Exercise #2: Finding Your Strength By Avoiding 13 Things

Psychotherapist Amy Morin’s list of 13 things that mentally strong people avoid is a helpful tool for everyone, but especially for those looking to break a cycle of self-defeating behavior. In collaboration with the women who have contributed to my Wise Women discussion series, I’ve expanded on each of these points. Take a look at each item on the list. Spend a few minutes describing how you avoid, or partake in, each activity. Then, write out how you could take steps to avoid each item in the future.

1. Waste Time Feeling Sorry for Themselves

Mentally strong people allow themselves to feel their negative emotions, but then look to build resilience rather than dwelling on their misfortunes. How have the difficult events in your life helped you to build resilience?

2. Give Away Their Power

The mentally tough understand that they can’t choose how they are treated, but that they can choose how they react. Think about a time when you gave away your power by saying, for example: “My boss always makes me feel bad,” rather than accepting responsibility for your own feelings. 

3. Shy Away from Change

Life is never stagnant, so it’s vital to find a way to become comfortable with change. When have you resisted change? Do you have confidence in your ability to adapt to change in the future?

4. Waste Energy on Things They Can’t Control

What are you struggling to control in your life right now? What would it look like if you loosened your grip? Figure out how to take that energy and be productive with it, recognizing that sometimes, all you can control is your attitude.

5. Worry About Pleasing Others

Mentally strong people are kind and fair, but they understand that they can’t make everyone happy. Practice saying “No” three times a month to requests, demands or favors that do not energize you.

6. Fear Taking Calculated Risks

The key here is “calculated,” as mentally strong people balance fear with logic and confidence in their own abilities. Which calculated risks are you avoiding in your life?

7. Dwell on the Past

Mentally strong people acknowledge the past so they can learn from their mistakes, but they don’t constantly focus on actions they regret or things they wish hadn’t happened. 

8. Make the Same Mistakes Over and Over

When you catch yourself asking, “Why does this keep happening?” take the time to create a timeline of events, situations or dialogues that have caused a similar feeling. Then, create a list of ways that you could change your response in the future.

9. Resent Other People’s Success

When some one else succeeds, that doesn’t mean you failed.  All it means is that they succeeded. Think about someone whose success you envy, and take time to admire what it took to get there.

10. Give Up After Failure

Can you think of one particular failure in your past that helped you get to where you are today?

11. Fear Alone Time

Mentally strong people know how to use downtime to be productive, and aren’t afraid to be alone with their thoughts. What fears come up for you when you think about spending time alone? 

12. Feel the World Owes Them Anything

Expectations are pre-meditated resentments. The mentally tough look for opportunities based on their own merits, not the idea that others should take care of them.  

13. Expect Immediate Results

Mentally strong people understand that change takes time and occurs in incremental steps. Write down a list of the best things that happened in your life.  Did they come immediately? Probably not. Take a deep breath.