How the mentally strong break through barriers

Anolene Thangavelu Pillay is a Psychology Advisor. | Supplied

Anolene Thangavelu Pillay is a Psychology Advisor. | Supplied

Published May 26, 2024



Living in an uncertain world, the many hiccups of life that are not always smooth sailing come to light.

Too many people succumb to the misconception that mental strength comes from superpowers that exist only in larger-than-life characters. However, such extreme examples of superhuman abilities often distort the real picture of what mentally strong people are like.

In reality, mental strength may not be as grandiose and visible, yet it is a reality.

This article outlines the key behaviours that mortals avoid while navigating life’s tough waters smoothly. Mortals often set themselves apart from others by committing to behaviours that create a magical life to look forward to.

They are aware that the brain is a heat-seeking missile that attracts whatever you focus on with the highest level of passion and emotion. While the saying “what we think we become” holds true, the well-meaning suggestions cannot help achieve individual goals if you are simultaneously engaged in the following destructive behaviours.

They avoid wasting time feeling sorry for themselves. It is easy to slip into a self-destructive habit by declaring that you are a helpless victim of circumstance. Living in self-pity is similar to being trapped in quicksand – the harder you try, the deeper you sink.

Consider asking “What next?” questions to avoid getting stuck in the “Why me?” trap. When we affirm the good in the world, we shift our focus from self-pity to gratitude which transforms breakdowns into breakthroughs.

Mentally strong people do not fret about the things beyond their control. They are aware that they can influence only their actions and behaviours, not those of others. Quiet reflection requires a concerted effort to tune into one’s thoughts without being influenced by others. Silence can be a useful tool in sustaining energy as it conditions the mind to be more adaptive and responsive.

Mentally strong people do not give away their power. Being mentally strong is about making conscious choices between what to avoid and what to pursue. Have faith and believe, primarily in yourself and your abilities.

If you feel lost in your journey, ask yourself: Who am I? Recognising and replacing the self-destructive behaviours that could be sabotaging your best efforts is key to being mentally strong. To break away from destructive behaviours, use control and discipline to steer yourself towards a positive path.

They do not give up. We experience failure as part of our journey which is often a pathway to our improvement and success. Why not shift our thinking slightly towards a dream we might have shelved?

Think of Thomas Edison’s famous quote “I have not failed; I’ve just found 10 000 ways that won’t work”. It demonstrates that every failure is a step towards success.

Mentally strong people do not feel entitled. It’s easy to feel entitled to certain aspects of life, thinking that we deserve something simply for existing or for our past achievements. They understand that life does not owe them anything. They acknowledge that success and rewards are earned through tireless persistence and hard work. Avoid dwelling on the thought of deserving certain things, and learn valuable lessons, with a newfound determination.

Mentally strong people do not focus on the success of others. Instead, they focus on their own development. Being entangled in a web of feelings can be more detrimental than beneficial as it distracts you from your path. Consider what you can learn from their success. Do they possess any skills or strategies you could develop and adapt to your own goals?

They do not fear calculated risks. Missed opportunities and stagnation occur when risks are avoided out of fear. To calculate risks, it’s necessary to evaluate the potential advantages and disadvantages. Before settling on a decision, consider the best and worst possible outcomes. for practical strategies and assurance, gain further insights from those who have walked a similar path.

They avoid dwelling in the past. Reliving old mistakes in our minds can trap us in a cycle of regret. Spend your time and energy investing in positive habits to create a healthier environment. Mentally strong people are known for practising self-compassion. They understand that making mistakes is a part of being human, forgive themselves and move forward, while crafting a realist approach to achieve their goals.

They do not expect immediate fulfilment. True success and a meaningful change are patience and perseverance, even if the results might not be immediately visible. The path to success is not a straight line. Prioritise small, incremental goals before attempting the ultimate goal. Success comes from trusting the process,and remaining dedicated through the twists and turns. Success will follow.

Break destructive behaviours and reconnect with the magic you believed in when you were a child. Why not break free from old conditioning behaviour, become receptive to alternative realities and embark on a path to future magical pursuits?

Anolene Thangavelu Pillay is a psychology adviser.

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