Ten habits of mentally strong people

Image: 123RF/Dean Drobot

According to Dr Travis Bradberry, award-winning author of bestselling book Emotional Intelligence 2.0, to increase your mental strength, you simply need to change your outlook. It is the tough lessons in life that build the strength we need to succeed. “Developing mental strength is all about doing the things that no one else is willing to do,” he says.

So if you are going through a tough time and are looking for some inspirations, here are 10 habits of mentally strong people according to Bradberry:

You have to fight when you feel defeated

Humans are creatures of habit and if you push through a challenge, your strength will grow. If you quit when things get hard, it makes it a lot easier to quit the next time. “You always have two choices when things begin to get tough: you can either overcome an obstacle and grow in the process or let it beat you.”

You have to delay gratification

Patience and delayed gratification are essential to success. “People with mental strength know that results materialise when you put in the time and forego instant gratification,” says Bradberry. The famous Stanford experiment in which an administrator left children in a room with a marshmallow for 15 minutes sums up this point. The administrator told them they were welcome to eat it but if they waited 15 minutes, they would get another marshmallow. The study found the children who were able to wait until the administrator returned experienced better outcomes in life.

You have to make mistakes and try again

Bradberry says: “You have to make mistakes, look like an idiot, and try again - without even flinching.” In a study conducted by the College of William and Mary, in Virginia in the US, 800 entrepreneurs were interviewed and researchers discovered the most successful had two things in common:  they didn’t care what people thought of them and they didn’t let failure bother them. The point being the most successful entrepreneurs don’t waste time dwelling on their failures “as they see failure as a small and necessary step in the process of reaching their goals”.

You have to keep your emotions together

Negative emotions challenge mental strength, which is why you have to manage and control them. It is easy to lose your resolve when you let your emotions affect your ability to think clearly.

You have to face situations that frighten you

Sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do because they will be beneficial to us in the long run, for example scrap a project, fire someone or pull an all-nighter. “It’s easy to let the looming challenge paralyse you but the most successful people know that, in these moments, the best thing they can do is get started straight away.” You have to learn how to make tough calls.

You have to trust your gut

From when I was a little girl, my mom always told me to trust my gut, however, there is a thin line between trusting your gut and being impulsive. “Trusting your gut is a matter of looking at decisions from every possible angle, and when the facts don’t present a clear alternative, you believe in your ability to make the right decision; you go with what looks and feels right.”

You have to lead when no one else follows

Support makes it easy to set a direction for yourself but the true test of mental strength is how you maintain your resolve when no one believes in what you’re doing. You need to believe in yourself and your abilities, no matter what, and persevere until people start recognising your actions.

You have to be polite to people who are rude to you

It’s tempting to stoop to the same level when people treat you badly. “People with mental strength don’t allow others to walk all over them but that doesn’t mean they’re rude to them either,” says Bradberry.

You need to focus on the details

Bradberry says nothing tests your mental strength like mind-numbing details. The more we are challenged, the more we need to dig in and welcome that challenge, improving our mental strength. Numbers and details are no exception to this.

You need to be accountable for your actions

According to Bradberry: “People are far more likely to remember how you dealt with a problem than they are to recall how you created it in the first place. By holding yourself accountable, even when making excuses is an option, you show that you care about results more than your image or ego.”

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