The vast majority of those who’ve attained lasting success owe it to an outstanding work ethic, effective strategising, and most importantly, mental fortitude.
As acclaimed novelist Tom Clancy put it: “An overnight success is ten years in the making.” There is no shortcut to success; only those who are willing to put in the work for it and those who aren’t. If you count yourself amongst the willing, read on: here are the ten powerful habits of mentally strong people that you need to start emulating.
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We live in a world that’s taken the idea of “keeping up with the Joneses” to the extreme. It’s no longer just about buying things and having enough status in life.
Today, we even base our values, goals, and milestones in life on someone else’s conception of success instead of our own. Some of us live our whole lives, never truly knowing ourselves and what we want in life.
Mentally strong people know what they want. While they may not necessarily have it all figured out all the time, they are not afraid of walking their own path.
They set their life goals and the strategies they choose to get there out of their personal convictions. They know what their purpose and mission in life are, and they hold themselves to their own standards of what success is and isn’t.
No matter how well-thought out your plans were, things will go awry. When you fail because of circumstances that were out of your control, it’s easy to slip into rumination.
You end up hanging on to the past and passively feeding your regret, anger, and resentment at being deprived of the success you know you deserved.
Mentally strong people don’t dwell unnecessarily on the past. They accept that there are always going to be factors that you can’t control regardless of how much you plan. Instead of letting it deplete their motivation, they spend their time and energy productively on how best to move forward.
There will be other times when you fail because of your own shortcomings. Sometimes it’s a mistake that you made. Other times, it’s down to a lack of your current abilities.
Instead of drowning in self-pity and catastrophising when this occurs, mentally strong people channel their regret to drive them to re-strategise. They stay focused on how to improve themselves by reflecting on where they went wrong in the past and why it happened, to make sure that they don’t repeat the same mistakes in the future.
Even child prodigies encounter failure. However, if you’ve been made to believe that your abilities are static and that no amount of work is going to change it, you become paralysed either by self-doubt or perfectionism.
Because you’re afraid that someone will “find out” about your supposed lack of talent, you either throw in the towel before the fight begins or commit yourself to the futile search for perfection.
Conversely, the mentally strong harbour growth mindsets; they know that their abilities are dynamic. Hence, they’re always focused on continuous improvement, and take failure as a learning opportunity instead of as a sign of crippling incompetence. They don’t rest on their laurels because they know that passivity breeds complacency and even erodes existing skill sets.
Similarly, the mentally strong amongst us are always open to change because they’re so eager to keep learning and improving themselves. They’re not afraid to engage in the kind of experimentation that’s often required to adapt, because they see it as a crucial aspect of self-improvement.
On the other hand, those who are unwilling to adapt are afraid of changing to suit the environment because they often think they just aren’t capable of changing.
One of the biggest traps we tend to fall into in our lives is finger-pointing. So many people blame their stagnation in life on their circumstances or everything other than themselves.
Truthfully, it’s a lot easier to keep being angry at the people and things that “did you dirty” than it is to accept that you need to take responsibility for your own life.
To be clear, it’s important to process and understand negative life experiences so that we can learn from them and know why we are the way we are. Mentally strong people, though, use this as a means of rising above the noise and the negative chatter in their lives, not as a way to justify being stuck in life.
As we progress increasingly into a more automated and wired society, emotional intelligence is becoming more and more important. A huge part of this is to have emotional self-awareness and therefore have emotional self-control.
Mentally strong people are always on top of their emotions. They don’t allow negative emotions to get the best of them in dire situations, and they choose to deal with their emotions productively instead of ceding their self-control to the tyranny of negativity.
They might, for example, ensure that they have constructive outlets for their anger, like picking up recreational boxing. They’re also not afraid to rely on others for emotional support when they need to.
Those who aren’t mentally strong, though, tend to be more emotionally volatile and closed off. They may even choose to sweep their negative emotions under the rug instead of dealing proactively with them, resulting in an eventual explosive meltdown that could have been avoided.
People who are insecure often try to undermine others because they don’t really believe that they can succeed. As a result, they feel that underhanded acts like cheating, lying, and manipulation are necessary to ensure that they stay ahead.
Since mentally strong people are always focusing on self-improvement, their priority is always to create value. They understand that success comes when you succeed in providing something of value for yourself, your loved ones, those around you, and the larger society in general. Hence, they don’t hesitate to collaborate with others and uplift those around them instead of trying to bring them down.
Boundaries are essential, and mentally strong people don’t take them for granted. They know what they stand for and what they don’t stand for, and they’re willing to do the harder thing in standing up for their beliefs when necessary, and when to just say no.
Besides knowing their moral boundaries, they’re also aware of their personal stress thresholds. Burnout isn’t an indication of success, it only impedes it. Mentally strong people don’t work themselves to burnout; they don’t take personal health lightly. They make it a point to practice good stress management habits like regular exercise, having a hobby outside of work, or spending quality time with loved ones.
Toxic people are like the plague. If you don’t avoid unnecessary contact with them, they’ll suck you into their circle of negativity. Once that happens, it’s easy to keep feeding the monster of negativity that’s slowly growing inside of you.
Mentally strong people know how to pick their battles wisely. They stay away from toxic people unless necessary and don’t allow themselves to be affected by the negativity. Instead, they’re constantly focusing and re-focusing on their goals so that they stay productively engaged in progress and growth instead of being held back from it by unnecessary drama.