On The Couch


Image for post
Image for post
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

6 Things Mentally Strong People Do Effortlessly

“And falling’s just another way to fly.” ― Emilie Autumn

Are you as mentally strong as you want to be?

Or could your resilience do with a tweak skywards?

Most of us fall into the “could do better” category. Psychologists routinely get asked for help in building resilience. That’s because everyone wants “tools” to help them survive and thrive the mayhem.

Mental strength is hard to pin down because we can’t see or measure it. It’s just that indefinable “thing” that stops you from falling apart in the face of life’s challenges. AND, well-used, can propel you to greatness.

Your mental strength comes from a super-combo of your genetics, character, history, experiences and the feedback the world has thrown at you. But from wherever you are, tools, and good habits, can be learned. Mental muscle can be ripped and toned.

So here’s how the best do it. Even though it may look easy — it’s not always. They just make it look that way.

6 Things Mentally Strong People Do Effortlessly

1. They think in shades of grey.

“Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.” — Michael McGriffy, MD

Mentally strong people are decisive but not closed-minded. They stay open to fresh ideas and able to see things from multiple angles. That means they can think in grey, rather than black and white (which can make you overly judgmental and keep you stuck.)

Flexible thinking is the hallmark of resilience. People who can adapt quickly, or take a jump to the left when necessary, cope better with uncertainty and change. The world is not black and white; there are a lot of grey areas. So introduce some shades of grey into your thinking — it’ll make you bolder and tougher when adversity strikes.

2. They climb their own ladder.

“If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.” — Stephen R. Covey.

Mentally strong people don’t bother climbing the ladder the next person is on. They don’t even look over at it. They do what they have to do; they focus on their own goals and what they have to do to reach them. BUT they follow Covey’s advice: they constantly check their own ladder is leaning against the right wall. And if it’s not, they move it.

3. They have high standards but they don’t attach to them.

“If the path be beautiful, let us not ask where it leads.” ― Anatole France

They strive — and keep striving — to be the best or for ultimate performance. They are proud of their efforts to get the most from themselves. And when they have a win they celebrate.

But they don’t attach strongly to the outcome. They don’t define themselves by the goals they reach (or don’t reach) — they define themselves by sustained effort, commitment and the ability to keep going, no matter what.

4. They keep their fears specific.

“Fear has a large shadow, but he himself is small.”
— Ruth Rendler

Mentally strong people are not fearless: they have normal human worries and vulnerabilities — but they are not overwhelmed by them.

When they feel afraid they don’t allow those fears to fan out into all areas of their lives. They still see and think accurately. They don’t catastrophise (rush to the worst case scenario) or globalise (after a setback make sweeping negative statements about themselves or the state of their life). Instead, they can identify precisely what they are worried about and why, then step into problem-solving mode.

5. They don’t get swamped by their feelings.

“You cannot make yourself feel something you do not feel, but you can make yourself do right in spite of your feelings.”– Pearl S. Buck

Mentally strong people are not emotional robots: they can express their feelings and be vulnerable when necessary. But they don’t allow negative or painful feelings to take over and shut down their ability to act. They don’t let their feelings lure them into irrational action or doing things they regret. They are able to think logically under pressure, make clear decisions and then act on them, even when they are struggling emotionally.

6. They stand up slowly after falling down.

“You can’t become a decent horseman until you fall off and get up again, a good number of times. There’s life in a nutshell.” — Bear Grylls

When mentally tough people have a setback, they get up again — and they keep doing it as many times as is needed. But they don’t leap to their feet and rush back into the fray without thinking.

They rise up slowly, taking the time to ask: how can I more creatively, more intelligently, begin again?

Thanks for reading! Join my email list here if you’re interested in practical psychology for everyday life.

Written by

Clinical psychologist, writer. Editor of On the Couch: Practical psychology for everyday life. karen@onthecouch.co.nz

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store