3 Things you need to stop doing to develop mental strength and improve your well-being
How strong and rooted do you feel?
Deep inside I knew I wasn’t as strong as I was projecting myself to be.
I had developed such a beautiful way of protecting myself from others and it would feel like the perfect defence mechanism. It was working. I wouldn’t feel vulnerable. I was untouchable.
With time, I started to feel the secondary effects of this lack of real mental toughness.
The emotions I had been controlling “so efficiently”, the thoughts I was pushing away from my mind, were beginning to reveal behaviours I actually didn’t feel proud of. They weren’t helpful at all.
I thought I was tough!
Mental strength is not about acting as if nothing has an effect on you, not needing support, controlling your thoughts and emotions or treating your body as if it was a machine that can do everything you set it up for.
Mental strength is not about locking up your doors and windows so the storm doesn’t have an impact on you.
Rather, mental strength it is about getting out there, full equipped with confidence and conflict resolution tools. Being in the storm understanding and managing your emotions and thoughts in a way that supports you to behave positively, in any given circumstances and willing to learn from the experience.
I noticed I felt empty, I was stuck in my own personal development, I didn’t have the type of relationships I was craving for and I wasn’t behaving like the person I wanted to be.
What do you value in life?
I’ll tell you some of my highest values: Connection, Freedom, Adventure and Security.
If you don’t know yours yet, you can download this free worksheet (no opt-in required) and highlight five of them to come up with a better idea.
Now tell me, are you truly acting based on those values?
Or are you neglecting any of them?
When you have those present in everything you do, this will give you a sense of integrity and a peace from within.
You will know you won’t be betraying who you truly are and you will be able to start trusting yourself.
So at some point, life, beautiful life, is going to happen to you. You will see yourself surrounded by some kind of conflict.
It could be a huge issue at work, a relationship that is not going as expected or a project you failed to accomplish, you name it.
Whatever it is, it will have and effect on you, as much as you try to ignore it.
It is then, when developed, your mental strength will provide you with ease, clarity, focus and efficiency.
There are some patterns, ways in which you learned to behave given specific circumstances, that you must consider to start changing in order to improve your genuine mental toughness.
These are likely to be playing a role in the way you sabotage your success and could be impacting your well-being. So, why not think about breaking the patterns and stop doing some of these things?
When I read Amy Morin’s book on Thirteen things mentally strong people don’t do, I highlighted some of the ones that I felt I identified with more. These are the 3 things I want to share with you today but I highly recommend adding this book to your reading list and expanding your knowledge.
#1 Stop giving away your power
Do you tend to change your goals depending on other people’s plans?
Do you spend a lot of time complaining about all the things you “have to do”, about other people or your circumstances?
Do you ever feel deeply offended by criticism?
These are some examples of how you may feel or act when you are giving away your power.
When you give away your power, your sense of self-worth and confidence starts to stumble depending on your circumstances or other people’s behaviours.
Instead of setting the rules, based on knowing what you need and what you want, and establishing healthy boundaries, you tend to stretch yourself to the extreme to be able to give others what they are asking for.
It could look like that neighbour that asks you for a favor or taking on too many tasks to release the pressure on others at work. It is hard for you to say “no”.
If you are not confident in who you are, your self-worth may depend on what other people feel about you. This will make it harder for you to set the boundaries you need. Those that will allow you to keep your energy and your power for those things you want to do to create the life you desire.
With a confidence that develops from within, you will learn to tolerate the repercussions of saying no to your neighbour or even to your boss, when you know it won’t benefit you.
Enough is enough.
3 Things you can do to reclaim your power
Start setting healthy, emotional and physical boundaries with people
Let others know what you expect from them and what you will or will not accept, all based on your essential needs.
If you have planned to work hard today, or take time to write, or perhaps, to spend time on your own reading a book or having a long walk by the shore, it is ok to protect that space and say no to helping your neighbour with their kids that day.
You don’t have to always change your plans depending on others needs.
Take responsibility for how you choose to spend your time and energy
Remember you have the choice to do, or not to do, the things you have in your “to do list”.
You can choose whether the steps you “have to” take are actually steps you want to take because it will take you where you want to be.
This point really liberated me from constantly complaining about my circumstances and I started to see my days not as a victim but in a way that helped me to move forward. Everything I “had to do”got translated to “wanting to do” as they would bring me closer to my objectives.
If there is something you don’t like, choose to change it, stop complaining. It drains your energy.
When you receive feedback, be willing to open up to it, take it critically and examine it. Check what may be true, what you don’t resonate with and ask for the reasons behind.
This way you can understand what people may refer to, before jumping to conclusions and adopt the self-defensive mechanism.
Be aware that your self-worth does not depend on what other people think about you. Yes, you can learn, change and improve from other’s feedback, but whatever you have done, you have potential, you are worth it.
Knowing this, you won’t allow your feelings about yourself to change just because someone has given you an opinion.
#2 Stop trying to please everyone
Pleasing people will have a nasty impact on you, your self-esteem and your confidence.
You have a specific list of values set. Things that are important to you that you start to put aside in order to try to do many things for others, for their well-being and happiness.
Without realising, you are walking away slowly from who you are and what you need, wasting an important amount of energy because you feel responsible for other people’s feelings and want to avoid conflict. This makes it really hard for you to speak up.
Some signs that you are falling into the “people pleaser role” are:
Apologising often even if you haven’t actually done something wrong.
The tendency of trying to make someone that is upset to feel better and feeling responsible for their emotions.
Trying to avoid conflict at all cost.
I want you to remember that, you can continue to be a kind and generous person without trying to make everyone happy or please everyone.
3 Things you can do to avoid the traps of trying to please everyone
Behave according to your values
Do you want to be true to who you are so you can experience real peace of mind?
For this to happen you have to become self-aware.
Get to know your values and start behaving according to them. Have them present for each experience you encounter. They will help you decide how to respond in the face of difficulties.
Embrace uncomfortable emotions associated with confrontation
Get comfortable with how those situations make you feel.
Get used to expressing how you feel and not just taking into account the feelings of others in order to give a response.
Take your time to respond to requests, you are allowed to think about it. Decide what is better for you in terms of whether it is in alignment with your values or not.
Learn to deal with the repercussions of confrontations. At the end of the day you want understanding and kind people around you and in your life right? So if they decide to leave, just because you said “no” to something, then, believe me, it is their loss.
Value who you are and what you have to say. You never know the impact of how you think or what you feel may have on the outcome of any problem, experience, circumstance or even the people around you.
Speak up! In a way that feels in accordance with who you are and always respecting other people’s views.
Be confident and put yourself out there, explain your point of view, without needing to become aggressive. Never let your voice go unheard.
It is important that you express yourself, and learn from the experience.
Never stop communicating.
#3 Stop fearing taking risks
Ok, so I don’t tend to say “stop fearing” as such because I am an advocate of feeling any emotion that crops up for us. However, I would like you to take away some tactics to support you in dealing with that fear of taking risks.
Do you find it difficult to take important decisions in your life?
When you take a risk your mind tends to come up with the worst case scenarios, holding you back?
Do you think your life could be different, more adventurous and exciting but the fear of changing something holds you back?
Do you tend to avoid risks at least in some areas of your life (relationships, career, financial…)?
These are some clues that could tell you, you are stuck by the fear of taking the risk, or making that change in your life
The big problem with this, is that you won’t ever step out of your comfort zone and unleash your true potential if fear stops you from trying!
You could stop growing and developing and this, can bring dissatisfaction and sorrow.
3 Things you can do to manage this fear of taking risks
Become aware of the emotions that precede the decision you make
We tend to make decisions based on the emotions we are having.
If you feel excited about what might come if you do it, you may take the decision to go ahead. If, on the other hand, you feel sad, you are looking at the opportunity from a different light and it is likely that you don’t go ahead.
So, before taking any decision make sure you are aware of your emotional state. Don’t just decide to give up or go ahead straight away. Give yourself one more day and time to reflect.
Take time to calculate the risks before making a decision
Start by thinking about the impact doing what you have in mind could bring to you and what it could cost you.
Once you have the classic list of the “pros and cons” think about how doing it could support you in achieving your biggest or longer terms objectives.
How doing it may be related to which of your values?
Then ask yourself what is the best that could happen if you follow through or what is the worst that could happen?
Finally, fast forward 5 years from now, and ask yourself how much this risk is likely to impact your future. How might your life have changed in 5 years from now if you had said yes or no to it?
Learn from practice
Practice taking risks and monitor the results.
Sometimes we come up with irrational thoughts that have the power to stop us from even trying, as we believe them to be true.
However, I challenge you to start acting as a scientist and testing your assumptions, putting in practice what you notice you fear.
Note down what happens during the experiment and afterwards, learn from that experience, what would change? What would you keep?
Then, keep testing.
Mental strength is a skill, you are not mentally weak or mentally strong. We are all somewhere along the line, depending on the areas of life we place ourselves in. When you stop giving away your power, stop trying to please everyone and you learn to manage risk a change will occur. You will develop and increase your resilience and confidence, allowing you to become more adaptable and connected with your true self.
Tell me, which one of these points could you start practising with?
Lydia Garcia Martin
Confidence & Well-Being Coach