According to psychotherapist Amy Morin, everyone has the ability to build mental strength, but most people she says, don’t know how to. I know exactly what she means! Easily frustrated and easily overwhelmed was how I used to feel a lot of the time until I started to work on my mental strength. But first, I had to learn there was such a thing as mental strength and that it could be developed.
In her talk, The Secret to Becoming Mentally Strong, Morin tells us that there are three kinds of destructive beliefs that make us less effective and rob us of our mental strength.
Below are some recommendations to help you work on the three unhealthy beliefs that Morin talks about so you can increase your mental strength.
1. ⊗ Unhealthy beliefs about ourselves
Those magnified self-pity where you feel put upon, and feel that you’re the only one who experiences a crisis and hard times. It doesn’t help that you (like most people) believe that “people don’t change.”
I work in the Change business so I must humbly disagree, and I have the proof to back me up in all the ways people out in the world have changed.
- Millions have lost weight and kept it off.
- Countless people have quit smoking for good.
- A lot of people have kicked the gossip habit and turned into leaders.
- Meditation is growing in popularity and is helping to bring calm and more self-control to so many.
- There are anti-recidivism programs where 80% of criminals stayed out of jail!
- Loads of workaholics have changed careers, reordered their priorities, and are leading more rewarding lives.
- There is a huge market for tiny homes now—something that was once only for the frugal or poor.
- Plenty of hoarders have tossed their excess “stuff” and never brought them back into their homes (some even turned to minimalism).
Change may be harder for you for any number of reasons but the truth is, most of our everyday wants and goals are achievable. Start by amending that “change” belief to “People don’t change…until they are ready.“
DO THIS: Keep this idea in the forefront of your mind: When I’m ready to change, there is hope and options out there.
2. ⊗ Unhealthy beliefs about others
When we’re thinking that others are “causing” us to feel bad or “triggering” us, we forget that we’re in control of our emotions. We forget that other people behave the way they do, independent of us. With this unhealthy belief, we give away our power. Because if I am able to hurt you, I have power over you.
While you may not yet have the emotional maturity to stop yourself from feeling bad or insecure because of what someone says or does, and yes, your little feelings will still be triggered, but you do have control over how you let others make you feel. That’s not me talking—that’s wisdom from the sages.
DO THIS: Use this 3-step plan to help you develop a healthier view of others:
- Become aware of yourself as you’re feeling bad.
The next time you’re lamenting how so-and-so made you feel bad, become aware of your heart rate, your breathing, and the pitch of your voice. Ask yourself whether you are feeling defensive. Ask yourself how you’re aligning with your values as you “let others” make you feel the way you do. Do this whenever you’re in blame-mode.
- After about 5 of these experiences, write down how your life benefited from your responses. If you went off on someone, for example, how did THEY change? Besides that “high” that you got from taking no BS, what tangible benefit did you receive?
- With insights from step-2, consider the best (most beneficial) way for you to have responded.
3. ⊗ Unhealthy beliefs about the world
When we think that the world owes us something, we’re always wanting more and we’re never satisfied with what we have.
DO THIS: Get into the gratitude habit. Gratitude is not all about wearing rose-colored glasses. You have to be honest in order for gratitude to really work. Plus, faking it is too much work for too little reward. Gratitude works best with honesty and that starts with you acknowledging that the world owes you nothing. That everything you have is a gift. Yes, even the weave you paid for with the money you earned. It’s all a gift. Life is a gift.
To change a belief (which is a firmly-rooted idea), you start by holding space for a new perspective. Every time you’re faced with the old idea, consider the new one. Logic and evidence usually win out eventually to change your belief.
Christine is a Life Strategist and Emotional Health Coach living in Los Angeles. She's big on meditation and believes in systems and routines, and in personalizing everything you do to help you get where you want to be.