13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do

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Author: Amy Morin
Published: 3/7/2017
Everyone knows that regular exercise and weight training lead to physical strength. But how do we strengthen ourselves mentally for the truly tough times? And what should we do when we face these challenges? Or as psychotherapist Amy Morin asks, what should we avoid when we encounter adversity?

13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do: Take Back Your Power, Embrace Change, Face Your Fears and Train Your Brain for Happiness and Success

Happiness and success are things we are all striving for. And in order to achieve these goals in our lives, it is important to live life to its fullest.

In order to make this happen, it is important to be mentally strong. However, being mentally strong is not an innate gift, and instead it is something that people can train themselves for.

With 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, Amy Morin reveals tips, tricks, and solutions for how one can gain the mental strength needed to control your emotions, think rationally, and generally handle situations that are typically stressful.

And while it is important to note that mental strength can help improve one’s overall mental health, these two things do not go hand-in-hand. Rather, you can be mentally strong and have a mental health issue. But with mental strength, you can handle your symptoms with a realistic outlook on life and improvement on one’s attitude toward your mental health.

Where to begin improving mental strength

The key to improving one’s mental strength is identifying the different behaviors and thoughts associated with what is holding you back. There are 13 traits that Morin points to as being maladaptive behaviors.

The 13 traits to be mindful of are: feeling self-pity, allowing others to influence your actions and thoughts, refusing to change, constantly living in the past, being a people pleaser, always wanting to be in control, wanting to be recognized immediately for your actions, having an expectation of success immediately, feeling envy over other people’s successes, making the same mistakes over and over again, giving up quickly, avoiding your own company, and not taking enough “mitigated” risks.

All of these traits are considered to be those that someone with a weaker mental strength would engage in. Instead, to be someone with real mental strength, it is important to avoid these traits and focus on positivity and working to overcome the challenges put in your path.

Key Points

  • Self-pity should be replaced with gratitude to gain mental strength

Mentally strong people are people who do not indulge in self-pity when things don’t go their way. Instead, it is about being grateful for the opportunity to learn something new. It is about not feeling knocked down when things are not going your way.

Never see an obstacle in front of you, but rather look at whatever is in front of you as a new opportunity. Think of the challenges you face as a gift to be thankful for, rather than something that is there to stop you.

By being more grateful, you will not only improve your mental strength, but also your physical health and wellness. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology has indicated that people who choose to be grateful for things are more likely to deal with less aches and pains, while even having an improved immune system.

Gratitude might seem like something to brush off, but it is clearly very important, particularly when looking at one’s mental strength.

  • Forgiveness is important, while still being able to hold onto your own power

Rejection happens. However, what you do with those rejections is what will determine your mental strength and fortitude. Another person’s negative opinion of you and your work might feel like the thing that will stop you in your tracks, but mentally strong people never let those negative opinions change the way they do things.

Never let someone else hold power over you. Even if you face rejection or criticisms, use this to feed your inner strength and work harder than ever.

By not letting someone else’s opinion define you, you are showcasing mental strength and an ability to push past other’s expectations of you. And at the same time, by forgiving those people who have rejected you, you are not only reclaiming your power from them, but you are moving past whatever negativity they sent your way.

Being angry with someone else, especially someone who likely does not know you personally, will not have an effect on them, but rather on you. Resentment and anger will only have an impact on you and your work, as it will hinder your own progression and creativity.

By being forgiving, you are not only putting your focus back on you, but you are also improving your own mental strength. As an added bonus, forgiveness is another factor towards improved health. Forgiving others can reduce stress and improve one’s heart health.

Essentially, forgiveness is important, while also allowing you to keep your power.

  • Be willing to change

Mentally strong people are always willing to change and embrace the changes in their life. Knowing the changes you want to make in your life is important to being able to actually move forward with a new plan of action.

It is important to think about what change will do for your life and even how it will have an impact on your life. From there, take into account any negative thoughts or feelings you may have.

While it is important to pay attention to these negative thoughts, thinking about the changes you want to make can give you insight into whether those negative thoughts are worth stopping you and your future progression.

Once you have been able to push past any potential negative ideas, it is important to create a plan for change. According to Amy Morin, there are about five steps needed to successfully implement a change in your life.

  1. Set a goal for 30 days out. No matter what change you want to make in your life, having a short term goal can set you on the right path forward.
  2. Create a set of daily changes that will allow you to achieve your goal. These changes should be set in stone and done every day.
  3. List any obstacles you may face towards your goal. Knowing ahead of time what could stop you from reaching your goal can be a great way to face the issue head on. It can also prepare you for how to handle those obstacles.
  4. Have a way to hold yourself accountable. When you create accountability for yourself, it will help you to better achieve your goal, as there is someone or something there to make sure you are constantly pushing forward.
  5. Always measure your progress. Whether it is keeping a detailed journal or marking off a calendar, knowing that you are working hard to reach your goal is a great motivator.

Paying attention to how you feel as you try to make a change in your life is important. And once you have a plan in mind for a change you may want to make, it is important to set a goal to achieve that change. Mentally strong people are always willing to change and adapt in order to get where they want to be.

  • Don’t let the things you can’t control distract you

If something is out of your control, then there is no point in letting it consume your energy. Mentally strong people do not waste their energy worrying over the things that they can’t change and control.

Rather than waste your energy on things you can’t control, place your concentration on things that you do have control over. Instead, shift your focus to the things you can control in life.

This is all about steering your life in the direction you want it and not about being controlling. Never waste your time, energy, or power on the things you have no control over, and instead put your focus on the things you can do instead.

  • You can’t please everyone and you need to be willing to displease some people

While paying attention to other people’s feelings is important, it can also be potentially damaging to your own mental strength. In order to improve your own mental strength, it is important to understand that sometimes you may have to hurt someone else’s feelings.

It is just as important to care about your own feelings, as it is to care about the way someone else feels. Being willing to potentially displease other people is something that will make you mentally stronger.

By being willing to choose yourself over others, it will make you happier and even healthier. While being mindful of others may seem like a virtue, if you are forgetting your own feelings, all you are doing is hurting yourself and even letting yourself look bad.

If you choose yourself first, you will find that you ultimately are happier and more confident. And these are both important qualities associated with mental strength.

  • Never be afraid to take well-thought out risks

Life is all about taking risks, because without them you can’t succeed and move forward. However, even though it is important to take risks, big risks can also lead to failures that have an impact on your motivation.

When it comes to being mentally strong and taking risks, it is all about mitigating those risks. It is important to think through which risks are worth taking.

It is important to analyze any risk you may be thinking of taking, looking closely at what elements are involved. By carefully reviewing what could happen or go wrong, you can potentially minimize the risks involved in trying something new.

In order to develop one’s mental strength, it is important to look at the risks that may be holding you back. What exactly are your fears? By knowing what you are afraid of, you can figure out ways to circumvent your fears and push past those worries in order to take that risk that scares you.

  • Accept your past and determine constructive ways to move forward

Mentally strong people are able to come to terms with their past, while also acknowledging the things that happened to shape who they are. In order to build on your present, it is important to accept what has happened, and in many cases forgiveness is crucial to this.

While moving forward and accepting one’s past is not as easy as it sounds, there are certain steps that can be taken to achieve this.

It is important to enjoy life, which means giving your permission to do so. No matter what happened in the past, you can enjoy your life. It is also crucial to not let a negative attitude stop you from making a change in your life. Just because something bad happened before, that doesn’t mean it will happen again.

  • Avoid making the same mistakes you have in the past

Even if you are able to do all of the things that have already been mentioned, you may find yourself falling into old, bad habits. However, mentally strong people study their past mistakes and work to avoid them.

By learning from your mistakes, you can work at not repeating them in the future. In order to learn from your mistakes, it may require asking yourself about the past, including what you did wrong to begin with and even what it is that you could have done differently.

It’s also important not to doubt yourself, which means setting aside any negative feelings and pushing forward. Being consistent in these behaviors can also make it easier to avoid past mistakes as well.

Self-discipline is a major key to avoiding making the same mistakes again. Being self-disciplined means keeping your eyes on your goals, listing the reasons why you don’t want to repeat your previous mistakes, and even restricting yourself so that you are not making it easy to make a repeated mistake.

  • Never envy someone else’s success

While envying or resenting someone else’s success is a typical trait of humans, it is something that can hinder one’s mental strength. In order to be more successful in life, you need to overcome those feelings of envy and instead try and harness the power that those people exude.

The best way to harness the power of someone else’s success is via collaboration. By supporting other people and their success, you can actually build your own successes and increase your strength and ideas.

By celebrating other people’s success, rather than envying them, you can attract those successful people and aim for a collaboration. Having competitive partners can lead to inspiration and motivation. This can be a true success for both of you.

  • Do not be someone who gives up easily

Being successful can mean dealing with a lot of risks, failures, and even rejection. It is important to keep pushing forward and not being someone who is willing to give up easily.

Every failure is a chance to learn something new and that is the sign of someone who is willing to keep moving forward. One failure is just a stepping stone towards success.

The idea of consistent practice, even with failure, can be seen as the perfect way to end up perfecting a skill that might seem to come naturally to others.

While we might fear failing, if we practice being compassionate to ourselves, we can change the way we think about failure. By being willing to be self-compassionate, a failure won’t be seen as a major blow, and the next time you attempt something, you will likely see a marked improvement in the outcome.

  • Being alone can improve mental strength

People with mental strength are able to be alone and actually need that time to themselves. Quiet times are a great way to rejuvenate one’s self, while also allowing for reflection and even inspiration.

These quiet moments alone are the perfect time to assess one’s goals, determine if you are on track towards your goals, and even create new goals for the future.

Meditation is another important aspect towards improving mental strength. After being alone for a while, you can find yourself looking for further ways to improve your mental strength, and meditation is a great way to do that. In fact, it can help improve your resilience.

  • Mentally strong people are all about giving over receiving

Mentally strong people do not expect things to be given to them. Instead, they choose to give to others.

Rather than expecting a job to come their way, mentally strong people do what they can to get that job. And even if something goes wrong in life, mentally strong people will find a way to improve other people’s lives when they can.

  • Mentally strong people understand that achievements can take time

It is important to have realistic expectations for ourselves. Our achievements can take time to happen, so not expecting things to happen quickly is important.

Remember that change is never easy. You have to know that going for your goal will be difficult at times. Be flexible with your deadline for your goals. You may want to have an idea of when you want something to happen, but never make it a firm date, because things can happen, and you don’t want to find yourself discouraged.

It’s also important to remember that just because you achieve your goal, that does not mean that suddenly your life will change overnight. And remember, one’s progress is not always immediately obvious.


13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do is all about finding ways to improve one’s mental strength using tips and tricks that are technically easy to put into place. In order for mentally strong people to improve that mental strength, it is important to find ways to change your life by focusing on the positive.

From taking careful risks to embracing change, there are any number of ways that you can become mentally strong, while also improving your overall happiness and success.


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