“You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this and you will find strength.”
Time keeps on moving, no matter how we try to alter it.
This means that even the worst day ever will eventually come to an end.
Some people are able to plan and strategize their way through these difficult times, while others simply let circumstances dictate how they handle these stressful situations.
This is just one of the characteristics of mentally strong people.
They take charge of their surroundings, plan ways to deal with less than ideal situations, and remain proactive throughout the entire process.
Some people have a talent for doing this, but let’s get something straight right now: being mentally strong is a skill you can develop as well.
Are you ready to start making good things happen in your life?
Do you want to take charge of each day so that it can go your way?
Then consider adding these additional characteristics of mental strength when it may be appropriate.
#1. Be Confident
Uncertainty often comes from a lack of confidence.
Maybe you’ve been asked to do something you normally don’t do. Maybe you’ve been asked to take on a leadership role and you’ve never been a leader – ever.
The confidence you have in your abilities and skills will take you through the uncertain times so you can experience success.
How can you be more confident?
Try keeping a daily journal of what you’ve done every day.
When you look back over time and see your accomplishments, it’s a lot easier to have confidence in yourself.
Listen to the feedback people give you. Be willing to make adjustments when necessary. Check your ego.
At the end of a tough day, you’ll still feel strong when you have confidence.
#2. Look for the Purpose
There is a greater purpose which drives each of us to do the things we do every day.
Whether it’s family, spirituality, or the desire to make a billion dollars, there is always something which drives us to keep going when others are willing to give up.
When facing difficult circumstances, it can be easy to forget that purpose as we deal with the symptoms of what is going on.
You have to want it. The purpose you feel must be a need. Without this passion, it is possible to quit because you don’t truly care about the outcome.
This is why a strong purpose will always be a characteristic of mentally strong people.
#3. Resilience Growth
Resilience isn’t something that you inherit from your parents.
It is something that builds up inside of you the more you use it, becoming a force of nature over time.
This is why some people can endure ridiculously difficult situations without even blinking.
They’ve practiced being resilient and that is something you can do as well.
Resilience is practiced through each choice we make.
Choices become actions, which offers another opportunity to practice resilience.
Behaviors become a third opportunity to practice resilience.
At first, you might have grit your teeth and force your willpower to make something happen.
Soon enough, you’ll discover that resiliency becomes part of who you are.
#4. Emotional Flexibility
How many articles have you seen or read that talk about how successful mentally strong people are always positive?
To put it bluntly – that’s stupid.
People are made up of positive and negative energy.
The trick isn’t to ignore your negative nature.
Mentally strong people have figured out how to be flexible so they can balance their negativity.
Some negative feelings help us to survive.
You expect that one car in front of you to cut you off, so you ease up on the gas just a bit as you’re driving.
You avoid the dark alley on a dark and silent night.
We never know what situations we’ll face during the day, so it is important to have as many responses as possible so we can best handle that situation.
This is how you become mentally strong.
Or you could look at the positive aspects of walking by yourself down an unfamiliar dark alley in the middle of the night.
Which makes more sense?
There’s this neighbor who is always up at 4am.
He’s a doctor out at the local hospital, so it’s not like his work isn’t important.
It’s just that he parks his car in his garage every night.
Bright and early every morning, the whole neighborhood wakes up because his garage door opens and then closes.
It’s frustrating. That frustration is heightened if there were other issues during the night that have kept us all up.
People who are mentally strong aren’t going to ambush this poor doctor when they see him.
They’re going to work with him to figure out some alternatives so everyone can get some sleep at night.
The goal is simple: to find common ground.
There isn’t anything wrong with anger.
It’s how we respond in anger that gets us in trouble.
Now some of us sleep with earplugs or listen to music at night to avoid hearing the screech of the garage door.
#6. Move Forward
There’s a song by Of Montreal called “The Past is a Grotesque Animal.” The lyrics go something like this.
The past is a grotesque animal
And in its eyes you can see
How completely wrong you can be
Living in the past is something that can be fun to do when there are glorious successes to remember.
It is also something that can destroy you because you’re not looking forward to the successes that are waiting in the present or the future.
You literally miss your opportunity because you’re reflecting on past glories.
Living in the past can also create difficult emotions when there are mistakes or even regrets living there.
Guilt can be overwhelming and time doesn’t heal all wounds.
We must confront difficult emotions or they will linger, festering an emotional disease that will also have you miss your opportunities.
Keep moving forward.
The past offers us lessons to learn. The present offers us actions we can take. The future offers us opportunities that can make us all become a little better tomorrow than we were today.
This is the key which unlocks the potential of being a mentally strong person.
#7. Love Your Neighbor As Yourself
A neighbor can literally live next to you, like the doctor with a garage door that wakes up everyone at 4am.
Sometimes “neighbor” is simply a term used to describe your brothers and sisters in humanity.
Each person has unique talents which help to make the world a better place.
Even if we are at odds with someone, we can choose to love them and appreciate the good things they do.
The reason why love is such a cornerstone characteristic of those who are mentally strong is because this emotion doesn’t keep a record of wrongs.
It is fast to forgive, longs to endure, and desires to never fail.
This compassion helps to balance negativity, open up internal positive spaces, and drives you to seek out opportunities to help others.
Now imagine a world where everyone is doing the exact same thing.
With kindness, even the worst day ever has something that will change you for the better in some way.
Find it, use it, and you will develop more mental strength with each passing moment.
#8. One Step
There’s a flight of stairs that you need to climb to get to your intended destination.
Maybe you just need to run upstairs to use the bathroom. Maybe you’re at work and headed to a potentially difficult meeting with a supervisor.
There are many reasons why we climb stairs every day.
How we climb them can be a lesson to increase mental strength.
Standing there at the bottom of the stairs, can you make it to the top of the stairs in just one step?
It’s possible if there are only 2-4 steps that you need to climb.
What if you have 14 stairs to climb?
Can you do that all at once?
Of course not.
You take a series of steps so that you can reach your goal of making it to the top.
This is the same thing mentally strong people do when they have a difficult task before them.
Looking at the entirety of the task can be overwhelming. It can be tempting to give up.
This is why they break things down into manageable steps.
When you take things one step at a time, you can start your climb to the top.
Otherwise you might never move, looking at the top of the stairs and wondering how anyone could climb that high.
#9. It’s All About Responsibility
“What am I going to do?” A friend is telling me a story of a co-worker’s situation.
“I messed up the report and approved items that weren’t supposed to be approved. Now they have an active account. There has to be a way to get out of this.”
And so this person worked hard to cover up their tracks so it looked like a computer glitch instead of a mistake on their part.
This person was afraid of taking responsibility for their choices.
Mentally strong people aren’t going to place any blame except on themselves.
They apologize quickly, make adjustments so that improvements can be made, and take their lumps when necessary.
If you listen to the world today, you’ll find that there is a lot of blame being handed out, but not a lot of responsibility being taken.
Look at your social media feeds, comment sections, or even have a random conversation with someone and often the results will be the same.
It’s easier to blame others instead of taking responsibility and moving on.
We all make mistakes. We all screw up. We all do stupid things.
It’s what you do next that will determine your mental strength.
Are you going to try to cover your tracks and place blame somewhere else?
Or are you going to not worry about losing face and move forward?
In many ways, we’re forced to mix our professional and personal lives today.
We’ll take a work email at 9pm and we’ll check our Facebook status in the middle of a project at work. It happens.
Yet there needs to be some level of boundaries that you don’t allow anyone or anything to cross.
People who are mentally strong don’t let others cross their limits, but they also respect the limits that others set as well.
Sure. It can be scary when you’re boss calls at 7pm when you’re eating dinner to discuss work, but don’t let that fear overwhelm you.
Politely, but firmly tell the boss that you’re spending time with your family and that you’d be happy to discuss things at work the next day.
Is there some risk in doing this? Absolutely.
It’s also going to benefit you in the long-run.
When you respect others in this way, it is offered in return.
When you’re firm with boundaries, people won’t want to cross them.
#11. Staple Your Pants
It’s something that always seems to be lurking. That deadline is still three days away? Great! I can do something else today and worry about that project tomorrow.
Mentally strong people take a different approach.
They prefer to finish tasks before moving to the next one and will set different deadlines for themselves so they can continually be productive.
Taking some time off can definitely feel appealing.
Sometimes it may even be necessary, especially if you’ve been working a couple weeks straight.
The only problem is that procrastination also causes your workload to keep building.
What you don’t get done today will have to be done tomorrow.
A hidden form of procrastination that is in today’s workplace is multitasking.
When you switch tasks, you can lose up to 15 minutes of focus during the transition.
That can add up to a lot of lost time during the day.
Stay focused on one task, see it through to its completion, and then move onto the next task which needs to be completed.
If you want to see if someone is mentally strong, then look at their budget. Seriously.
Are they living paycheck to paycheck, but working on establishing a savings account and an IRA? That’s mental strength.
Are they spending their extra cash every month on things they want instead of things they need? That’s not mental strength.
People who are mentally strong will take care of every aspect of life to the best of their ability.
They want to make wise decisions to the extent that the process is almost an addiction.
Any foolish decision feels like a kick to the stomach.
There will always be impulse purchases. Buying a candy bar doesn’t mean you are lacking in willpower.
If you can take responsibility for your finances, then you can take responsibility for anything else that life throws your way.
#13. Focus on Your Health
I have this friend who weighs 260 pounds. He’s what you’d describe as a “big guy.”
At a first glimpse, you’d probably say he could lose some weight. According to BMI charts, he’s classified as obese.
Yet his blood pressure is right where it needs to be. His pulse is below 65 even when he’s had two cups of coffee. He exercises every day. His doctor just laughs.
There are many ways to be healthy. It’s about the purpose of your decisions.
Are you trying to maintain your health?
Or are you letting yourself go for some reason?
If it’s the latter, then there is a reason for that decision.
Root it out and deal with the cause so you can maintain your health.
If you want a strong mind, you need to have a healthy body supporting it.
You don’t have to take on the whole world.
You have a support network that you can utilize to get stuff done.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you get to sit back and relax because you’ve got nothing to do.
It does mean that you don’t need to carry the whole world in your hands.
People who are mentally strong are willing to give others the benefit of the doubt.
They’re willing to offer second chances.
Of course you should take action to protect yourself when necessary, but people don’t grow without the help of others.
We all got a helping hand to get to where we are today.
It’s important to extend that hand to others now as well.
These characteristic of mentally strong people are examples that we can all follow to develop our own strength.
Life can throw us a challenge at any moment.
We can’t ignore these challenges.
We must deal with them and it is our mental strength that will get us through.
How do you handle difficult situations? How have you worked on developing your mental strength? I’d love to hear about some of the unique ways you’ve worked to become a mentally strong person.