Mentally Strong People: 13 Things They Avoid


By: Cheryl Conner
Contributor to
Originally Published Here

For all the time executives spend concerned about physical strength and health, when it comes down to it, mental strength can mean even more. Particularly for entrepreneurs, numerous articles talk about critical characteristics of mental strength—tenacity, “grit,” optimism, and an unfailing ability as Forbes contributor David Williams says, to “fail up.”

Gillette-4However, we can also define mental strength by identifying the things mentally strong individuals don’t do. Over the weekend, I was impressed by this list compiled by Amy Morin, a psychotherapist and licensed clinical social worker, that she shared in LifeHack. It impressed me enough I’d also like to share her list here along with my thoughts on how each of these items is particularly applicable to entrepreneurs.

1. Waste Time Feeling Sorry for Themselves. You don’t see mentally strong people feeling sorry for their circumstances or dwelling on the way they’ve been mistreated. They have learned to take responsibility for their actions and outcomes, and they have an inherent understanding of the fact that frequently life is not fair. They are able to emerge from trying circumstances with self-awareness and gratitude for the lessons learned. When a situation turns out badly, they respond with phrases such as “Oh, well.” Or perhaps simply, “Next!”

2. Give Away Their Power. Mentally strong people avoid giving others the power to make them feel inferior or bad. They understand they are in control of their actions and emotions. They know their strength is in their ability to manage the way they respond.

3. Shy Away from Change. Mentally strong people embrace change and they welcome challenge. Their biggest “fear,” if they have one, is not of the unknown, but of becoming complacent and stagnant. An environment of change and even uncertainty can energize a mentally strong person and bring out their best.

4. Waste Energy on Things They Can’t Control. Mentally strong people don’t complain (much) about bad traffic, lost luggage, or especially about other people, as they recognize that all of these factors are generally beyond their control. In a bad situation, they recognize that the one thing they can always control is their own response and attitude, and they use these attributes well.

5. Worry About Pleasing Others. Know any people pleasers? Or, conversely, people who go out of their way to dis-please others as a way of reinforcing an image of strength? Neither position is a good one. A mentally strong person strives to be kind and fair and to please others where appropriate, but is unafraid to speak up. They are able to withstand the possibility that someone will get upset and will navigate the situation, wherever possible, with grace.

6. Fear Taking Calculated Risks. A mentally strong person is willing to take calculated risks. This is a different thing entirely than jumping headlong into foolish risks. But with mental strength, an individual can weigh the risks and benefits thoroughly, and will fully assess the potential downsides and even the worst-case scenarios before they take action.


7. Dwell on the Past. There is strength in acknowledging the past and especially in acknowledging the things learned from past experiences—but a mentally strong person is able to avoid miring their mental energy in past disappointments or in fantasies of the “glory days” gone by. They invest the majority of their energy in creating an optimal present and future.

8. Make the Same Mistakes Over and Over. We all know the definition of insanity, right? It’s when we take the same actions again and again while hoping for a different and better outcome than we’ve gotten before. A mentally strong person accepts full responsibility for past behavior and is willing to learn from mistakes. Research shows that the ability to be self-reflective in an accurate and productive way is one of the greatest strengths of spectacularly successful executives and entrepreneurs.

9. Resent Other People’s Success. It takes strength of character to feel genuine joy and excitement for other people’s success. Mentally strong people have this ability. They don’t become jealous or resentful when others succeed (although they may take close notes on what the individual did well). They are willing to work hard for their own chances at success, without relying on shortcuts.

10. Give Up After Failure. Every failure is a chance to improve. Even the greatest entrepreneurs are willing to admit that their early efforts invariably brought many failures. Mentally strong people are willing to fail again and again, if necessary, as long as the learning experience from every “failure” can bring them closer to their ultimate goals.

11. Fear Alone Time. Mentally strong people enjoy and even treasure the time they spend alone. They use their downtime to reflect, to plan, and to be productive. Most importantly, they don’t depend on others to shore up their happiness and moods. They can be happy with others, and they can also be happy alone.

12. Feel the World Owes Them Anything. Particularly in the current economy, executives and employees at every level are gaining the realization that the world does not owe them a salary, a benefits package and a comfortable life, regardless of their preparation and schooling. Mentally strong people enter the world prepared to work and succeed on their merits, at every stage of the game.


13. Expect Immediate Results. Whether it’s a workout plan, a nutritional regimen, or starting a business, mentally strong people are “in it for the long haul”. They know better than to expect immediate results. They apply their energy and time in measured doses and they celebrate each milestone and increment of success on the way. They have “staying power.” And they understand that genuine changes take time. Do you have mental strength? Are there elements on this list you need more of? With thanks to Amy Morin, I would like to reinforce my own abilities further in each of these areas today. How about you?

Click Here for a practical, step-by-step blueprint to rapidly developing mental toughness and suppress the fear and self-limiting beliefs that sabotage your success.


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  • Kerry Keel

    Reply Reply June 28, 2016

    Yes, indeed, these things are very true. Many of us would greatly profit from them if the time was taken to understand what they mean, and how to use them. The Bible does speak to this on the basis of the illustration of a farmer who looks back to see where he has plowed. He can’t plow properly if he is always looking back to see where he has been. This makes his field unfit for sowing, or to grow a useful crop. Focusing on yesterday is a waste of time. Trying to chnge yesterday does no one any good. Looking forward to, romorrow and what can be done to change that is worthwhile.

  • Terry Renick

    Reply Reply June 25, 2016

    There is no QUIT in a strong leader

  • Sandra Grillette

    Reply Reply June 24, 2016

    Excellent! hoping I can send this to my family

  • Sharon Sampson

    Reply Reply June 24, 2016

    Excellent list. Most people need to read this and memorize it to be able to make better decisions throughout the day. Takes time to actually assimilate this kind of thinking, to toss out bad automatic responses (road rage) and go through the learning process all over again until these new traits become themselves automatic. I’m printing this out and laminating and framing…grins.

  • Steve

    Reply Reply June 24, 2016

    This article is excellent. I wish I were still coaching high school soccer, as this would be one of my “motivation sheets”. My daughter is a licensed private counselor and I will share this with her. I see some personal strong points and some on which I need to improve.

  • terry_dP

    Reply Reply June 24, 2016

    Great list! I have a way of dealing with self-pity, Whenever I hear anyone say, “Why me?”, I always ask them, “Why not you?” How can one answer that one? Shuts them up, because if they try to answer, they usually feel selfish and foolish. This is especially good for parents to use on their children (I speak from the experience of raising “Miss Melodrama”).

  • radarphos

    Reply Reply June 24, 2016

    To Michael,

    Literally, “attitude” refers to a fixed object that stays put and doesn’t move around (e.g., the North Star, or magnetic north as well as its declination). It was used as a reference point to chart one’s compass, for navigating one’s direction(s), for the sake of arriving at one’s hoped for destination (e.g., sea sailing ships 200+ years ago, or the first planes that few the atmosphere), Our modern world has (without permission) redefined attitude in terms of the final hope or goal that it perceives as sourced within a person (and no longer as an independent object that permanently stays put and can be relied upon). Modern day delusion finds attitude in a person’s hopes, desired beliefs,wants, etc. (for which reason TODAY, attitude is redefined as a feeling state based in trust in self and/or one’s outlook).
    Trial and error does not at all refer to what “attitude” originally meant, because trial and error implies that one is “clueless” about “fixed navigational object points”, and even for wants. Attitude (as redefined in the 20th Century) has produced (says older statistical sources) about 50% failed marriages that resulted (whenever these counts were performed). Using latter 20th Century marriage and divorce as an example, who gives an F that half of marriages ARE INTACT (even if these have been largely or periodicallyNOT SO HAPPY RELATIONSHIPS)? People who romanticise attitude (and separate it from its original meaning, wisdom, insight, etc. are very-small fish in a smaller fishbowl–and that is not at all like the people who braved the unknown (to them) relying upon what they believed to be the truths of science, nature, or faith. I have no complaint with “feel good” stuff and looking for the bright side (if there is one) to any adverse “something” that confronts a person. The people I enjoy the most have this trait and celebrate it.
    But “bright side” psychology is not (at all) what attitude originally meant. Ships would not have sailed the sea without the fixed position of the North Star, because those old timers were not delusional (…they weren’t stupid). Polly-Anna’s, who receive “adda-boys” and “adda-girls” for their positive feeling states have a shipwreck awaiting them, if they cannot find some sort of immovable and unchangeable truth that can be relied upon as a source of direction in tough and scary times. When that time comes, your “adda-boys” and “adda-girls” about their former positive 20th Century-type “positive attitudes” is going to result in your being viewed as not a small fish in a small fishbowl, but as a dead fish in a dead fish bowl. Think about this. What is certain and guaranteed, says Who…? The north star is a guarantee for actual navigation purposes, is there any other truth proclaimed that can help one face terminal cancer, etc.?

  • Jeffrey

    Reply Reply June 24, 2016

    Very nice article. I learned the FIDO Principle years ago, Forget It, Drive On!

    Dwelling on the distant disappointments of the past, or the new ones that surface in the present, can slow (or stop) us from moving on with life and making progress towards any goal we set for ourselves. The FIDO Principle was something I learned many years ago in a motivational conference I attended. It’s done me good.

    Everyday I look forward with excited anticipation of new emails from you folks. Keep up the great work! :0)

  • Rob

    Reply Reply April 16, 2016

    Great Stuff, I have made progress but still need to “Slay a few Dragons…”

  • bill

    Reply Reply March 20, 2016

    good article. too bad the entitlement mindset has shied away form all of these attributes.

  • Tim Clifford

    Reply Reply March 4, 2016

    That’s well done. I believe all successful people follow a similar path, or ribbon but with different energy and drive for one or two at a time. I don’t mean months either. Recognizing one has slipped in any of those areas can give them the chance to tackle it as a new challenge. Even if it’s just today’s slip and becoming aware of it.
    All at once is far too many rocks in you mental wheel-barrel at any one time!
    My mentor (grandfather) had gems for me: i.e. “Since you’ve decided to complete this job (any), take half the rocks out, and make two easier jobs than continuing to overwhelm yourself by trying to do it in one load.” Also, he said: “Remember that when you’re looking at today’s work, it’s much easier to plow around the stump!” (he was acknowledging that youths’ confidence may often cast the young into overwhelming situations that would have been better recognized and addressed before hooking up the plow.)
    I know he sounds like a bare-footed, bib overall kind of hick, but he was a college educated Hydraulics Engineer that designed all the “new” sprinkler systems in San Francisco after the 1916 earthquake destroyed the city with fire after the quake. All the water tanks on the roofs of the buildings got knocked or tipped over! OOPS No, he was just a very wise man that owned a ranch/farm in what is now Silicon Valley. a.k.a. Santa Clara. Nice hobby, ranching and farming. He also had 4 open pit gold mines in the Gold Country near the town (wee) of Mountain Ranch. Dictator Roosevelt closed all Americas gold mines in ’42 and almost destroyed our family. But, that’s just another chapter in a great book!

  • Joe Truncale

    Reply Reply March 4, 2016

    This is a fantastic article. It points the way to improve yourself mentally and physically. The “Never give up” mentally is what separates the winner from the loser in life.


  • Sharon Sampson

    Reply Reply March 4, 2016

    Hey there Mike! Wonderful list, sure made me feel even better. I just have to say I pushed my little body so far that although I had great muscles, my dang bone genetics couldn’t keep up. I thought I could be like Jack LaLane (sp), but found that each of us is different and more is NOT better. Your picture saying you like ‘pushing’ yourself…is fine to a point. I was…addicted to the nice pain of a great workout as well. I also taught others for decades physical fitness and took it seriously. I had my own ‘controlled impact’ and my studios always had suspended floors for the give. Controlled Impact was not allowing bodies to ‘bounce’ to use their ligaments for motion and to force the muscles to do all the work…such as doing ‘jumping jacks’ whilst carrying a glass of water on one’s head. Not for real but just the act of pretending to balance a glass of water ensured use of muscles, not ligaments. But for all the correct body movement I still have to endure ‘being grounded’ and deal with pain. Poo pee do. Just make sure to not get TOO flexible especially the knee joints! Balance in musculature. And overdoing does not make one stronger, faster nor more flexible. Overdoing is the key word here. You look wonderful…there is a point where maintenance makes sense.

  • Ern

    Reply Reply March 4, 2016

    As a person born with several birth defects and suffering some debilitating injuries early in life. I feel out of a tree at the age of 4 fractured my skull and did terrible things to my neck. I injured my back at the age of twelve, my shoulder at 14 and damaged my knees working as a stone mason and carpenter. Yet I have earned several black belts from legitimate martial arts, have two college degrees and numerous professional certifications. Life takes hard work, mental toughness and accepting responsibility for your action. I’m writing a book to tell my story. This acts as a sort of therapy by recounting my accomplishments as well as failures.

  • Dan

    Reply Reply March 4, 2016

    Simply put… Great stuff!

  • Michael

    Reply Reply March 4, 2016

    Excellent article for all people and circumstances. Like the saying goes, “ATTITUDE” is 95% of most all endeavors and of life itself.

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