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13 Things the Mentally Strong Don’t Do

No. 10: "They Don’t Give Up After Failure."


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Mentally strong people don’t waste energy on things beyond their control.

Amy Morin lost her mother to a brain aneurysm. Then she lost her husband to a heart attack. Many people in her situation would have ended up bitter or depressed, but not Morin, a psychotherapist near Bangor, Maine.

Instead, she wrote a blog. She may have thought it would be cathartic.

Unexpectedly, her post, titled “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do,” went viral, eventually reaching 30 million readers. The blog became a 2014 book by the same name.

Here is a summary of Morin’s 13 things mentally strong people don’t do.

1. They Don’t Feel Sad for Themselves 

Although many problems in life can’t be avoided, people often make a (sub)conscious choice to feel sorry for themselves rather than focus on how to fix their problems.

To change this behavior, teach yourself how to feel grateful. You can be grateful for people you know, things you own or skills you have. What you are grateful for is less important than the act of being grateful. This allows you to celebrate every day, rather than merely on holidays and birthdays.

2. They Don’t Give Others Power Over Themselves 

People tend to blame others for their problems. To stop doing this, you can empower yourself by taking full responsibility for your actions, emotions and thoughts.

3. They Aren’t Scared of Change 

To live a full life, which includes seeking new challenges, you first must recognize situations in which you avoid change because it causes discomfort. Then you must confront these challenges head-on. Examples include changing jobs, changing protocols and changing habits.

4. They Don’t Waste Energy on Things Beyond Their Control 

If we use our time to change the things we can control, rather than stress about uncontrollable events, such as other peoples’ choices and the evening news, then we can better prepare for life’s surprises, big or small.

5. They Don’t Worry About Making Others Happy 

To be truly authentic, live by your own values even if others don’t agree with your choices.

6. They Aren’t Afraid to Take Calculated Risks 

We usually take risks based on our emotions rather than on objective analysis. However, this is an inaccurate way to calculate risk, since emotions often have no rational basis. To live our best life, we need to take risks, and we need to calculate them accurately.

7. They Don’t Keep Ruminating on the Past 

Contemplating our past for too long can be harmful. Instead, accept the consequences of your actions without wishing that things were different. This is not always an easy skill to acquire, but you can teach yourself to let go and move on. And learn from the experience.

8. They Don’t Keep Repeating the Same Mistakes 

To learn from your mistakes, you need humility. You also need to search for new strategies to improve yourself. Rather than hiding your mistakes or making excuses for them, use them as an opportunity to grow.

9. They Don’t Resent Others’ Achievements 

Although envying others’ successes is natural, jealousy inhibits our ability to achieve our goals. In order to stop being envious, you need to have a whole-hearted belief in your definition of success.

Rather than comparing yourself to the Joneses, compare your future self to your past self. In other words, strive to be better (i.e. fitter, smarter, faster, kinder, wiser) next year than you were this year.

10. They Don’t Give Up After Failure 

Succeeding without failing is very difficult. Every high achiever in sports, business or everyday life has gotten to the top in spite of failures and setbacks. When you fail, keep trying rather than giving up.

11. They Aren’t Afraid to Spend Time Alone 

“Me time,” which often makes people uncomfortable, is incredibly beneficial. It gives you a chance to think without being distracted. It allows you to work on your goals. If you are a practice owner, it enables you to work “on” your business rather than merely “in” your business.

12. They Don’t Believe the World Owes Them Something 

Many people develop a sense of entitlement. They believe that others owe them time or money. Meanwhile, strong people are self-reliant. They understand that they need to work hard for what they want.

13. They Don’t Expect Immediate Results 

If you expect to see immediate results, you’ll be sorely disappointed, since those are fairly rare. Instead, in order to see results, you need to work slowly and steadily toward your goals.

We all have the ability to build up our mental toughness. To do this we need to become aware of these 13 self-destructive tendencies, which prevent us from unlocking our full potential. To counteract this, take note of the areas you need to work on. Then you can develop a better lifestyle by creating healthier habits and increasing mental toughness.

When reflecting on her book, Morin kindly told us: “Writing my list of the 13 things mentally strong people don’t do was a great reminder that sometimes you have to give up what’s holding you back. Rather than add more good habits to your already busy life, letting go of the bad habits helps you work smarter, not harder.”

Beyond our personal lives, these 13 traits apply well to our professional lives. It’s tougher to work in our field than what most people think. All day long we deal with sickness, cancer, euthanasia, clients with financial constraints, employee problems, difficult clients and so much more.

Thankfully, we also experience lives saved, joyful clients, happy employees, cute puppies and adorable kittens. This is how the 13 traits above can help us focus on all the positive things we encounter in the greatest profession in the world.


Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a board-certified veterinary surgeon and an author. You may visit his website at www.DrPhilZeltzman.com  and follow him at www.facebook.com/DrZeltzman.  Columnists’ opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Veterinary Practice News. 

Originally published in the December 2016 issue of Veterinary Practice News. Did you enjoy this article? Then subscribe today! 

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