Word-Of-the-Week #665: Mental Muscle

May 4, 2017 by  

Mental Musclebrain strength.

Are you in control over how you think, feel and behave at all times? How would you rate your ability to adapt to changes? Does a failure make you want to give up?

The Chicago Tribune article by Amy Morin, “Mental muscle – Successful people don’t do these things” is a great follow up to last week’s Genius. She writes, “As a psychotherapist, I’ve witnessed countless people beat the odds. Despite the tragedies, hardships and challenges they faced, they persisted and were successful. My training has taught me to build on people’s existing strengths, but over the years, I realized that focusing on good habits was sometimes doing clients a disservice.

If you sought help from a nutritionist to lose weight, and the nutritionist said, “Eat more vegetables,” but never mentioned that you should eat less junk food, you probably wouldn’t succeed. And you’d likely feel frustrated by your lack of progress.

Similarly, building mental strength at work requires good habits, such as practicing gratitude, but you also need to relinquish bad habits, such as giving up after your first failure.

Often, people go through life with one foot on the gas and the other foot on the brake. Giving up the things mentally strong people don’t do is like taking your foot off the brake. You’ll move forward with less resistance.

Everyone engages in habits that drain them of mental strength from time to time, but being aware of those bad habits is the first step toward giving them up.

Here are 5 things mentally strong people don’t do:

  1. They don’t waste time feeling sorry for themselves. Feeling sad or grieving a loss is crucial to your healing process. But self-pity is about magnifying your misfortune and exaggerating your hardship. It causes you to dwell on your problems and stay stuck in your misery.
  1. They don’t give away their power. Saying your boss makes you feel bad about yourself gives that person power over your emotions. And feeling that you must go to your mother-in-law’s house for dinner gives her power over your behavior. Retaining your power is about acknowledging that you are in control over how you think, feel and behave at all times.
  1. They don’t avoid change. Change feels scary because there is no guarantee doing something different will improve your life, but shying away from change will prevent you from growing stronger and becoming better. The world is changing and success often depends on your ability to adapt.
  1. They don’t focus on things they can’t control. Time and energy are finite resources so it’s important to devote your efforts to the things that you can control. So while you can’t prevent the storm from happening, you can control how you prepare for it.
  1. They don’t worry about pleasing everyone. Just like other people can’t control your emotions, you can’t control theirs. It’s not your job to try to make other people happy. In fact, becoming a people pleaser will cause you to lose sight of your values, and your self-worth will become dependent on other people’s opinions of you.”

This week’s focus is on your mental muscle. Are you aware of any habits that drain your mental strength? Do you focus on things that you can control? Do you have the ability to deal with problems and then move on? Is it okay to not please everyone?

Stay tuned! Next week features 8 more from Amy.

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