Do you know what mental strength is? You should, because some of the wealthiest and most well-accomplished people in the world cite “being mentally strong” as the key to their success.
Mental strength or mental toughness is defined as the measure of an individual’s resilience and control over their emotional and psychological well-being. And it’s because of this mental strength that we can maintain a positive mindset and rise above any circumstances, no matter the difficulty or demands. Being mentally strong means having a good grasp on your emotions, being able to do well under pressure, and effectively deal with the problems we face.
So while mental resilience is definitely an important goal all of us should strive for in our lives, building it takes a lot of time and patience. What’s more is that oftentimes we are guilty of doing things that hurt our resilience and make us more mentally weak. We sabotage ourselves in ways we may not even realize. With that said, here are 9 things you may be doing that make you mentally weak:
1. Being indecisive
Being indecisive and not being able to make up your own mind can make you mentally weak because of all the stress and pressure you put on yourself to make sure that every decision you make is right. But the truth is, no matter what you choose, you’ll always end up regretting it and wondering if you’ve made a mistake. You waver in your choices because you don’t trust your own judgment and your indecisiveness makes you neurotic, controlling, and dissatisfied with everything.
2. Being overly self-indulgent
When someone is overly self-indulgent, it means that they are a slave to their own impulses. They do whatever they want, whenever they want, without ever thinking any of it through. They seldom consider the consequences of their actions because they’re always living in the moment, trading one high for another. Hedonistic and reckless, people like this lack the self-control, patience, and discipline that it takes to become mentally resilient. Instead, they give in to every little desire that they have and often end up sacrificing their long-term happiness for temporary relief (Veenhoven, 2003).
3. Being afraid to be alone
It’s normal to feel afraid of ending up alone, but you shouldn’t let your fear of loneliness be the driving force behind your relationships. People who are terrified of being alone or having to be by themselves usually lack the self-love and self-acceptance that it takes to be able to enjoy one’s own company. But desperately seeking companionship and clinging to everyone around you just because you don’t want to be alone does nothing but make you feel lonelier and emptier than you already were.
4. Wanting everyone to like you
Even though we all know that being a people pleaser is never a good thing, sometimes we just can’t help it. Most of us have been guilty of changing some aspect of ourselves (whether it’s the way we look, or the way we dress, or the way we act) to fit in with the people we like and impress those we admire. But having such a strong need to be liked by everyone and gain their approval can foster feelings of insecurity and self-loathing.
5. Dwelling on the past
Do you ever feel so nostalgic you wish you could go back in time and relive certain experiences in your life? Do you often wonder about what could have been and find yourself coming back to a certain mistake, memory, or past relationship over and over again? Be careful! Dwelling too much on the past and not being able to move on is detrimental for your mental health. It keeps both psychological and emotional wounds from healing, and only serves to make you feel more remorse, sorrow, and helplessness over the things that have happened to you (Edlewirt, 2015).
6. Giving up easily
Numerous studies have shown that mentally resilient people persevere even in the face of rejection, failure, or adversity (Davydov, Stewart, Richie, & Chaudieu, 2010). So it should come as no surprise that giving up too easily is not something that’s good for your mental health. People who are easily discouraged by difficulty tend to be less successful, less accomplished, and less emotionally fulfilled than their more determined counterparts. So while it may feel easier to just give up sometimes, know that it may come at the cost of your mental and emotional well-being.
7. Having a sense of entitlement
Having a sense of entitlement means that you feel like the world owes you for something, like you deserve special treatment for no good reason. And while most of us aren’t usually aware when we are acting entitled, our sense of entitlement shows every time we complain about a setback or an inconvenience; expect things to just be handed to us; or get upset when we don’t get our way. Mentally strong people, on the other hand, understand the value of hard work and know that nothing is ever owed to us.
8. Letting your emotions control you
While expressing your emotions can be good for you, letting them control you instead of the other way around isn’t going to do your mental health any good. Because in getting carried away by what you’re feeling, you could easily become unstable and lose your sense of control. You become emotionally volatile and let your emotions cloud your judgment, making you more prone to reckless behavior, rash decision-making, and overreacting to situations (Rezvan, Bahrami, & Abedi, 2006).
9. Neglecting your self-care
Finally, but perhaps most importantly, neglecting to take care of your physical and emotional health will surely take a toll on your mental health as well. Only when you understand the importance of self-care and start prioritizing your own well-being will you become mentally strong and stable. Ways you may be neglecting your self-care include: overworking yourself, not getting enough rest, not doing the things you love, and not dealing with your emotions (Richards, Campenni, & Muse-Burke, 2010).
So, do you ever do any of the things we’ve mentioned on this list? Are you guilty of any of these 9 things that can make you mentally weak? If you are, don’t worry – there’s still plenty of time for you to change that! Some ways you can build mental resilience by: meditating, spending time with yourself, learning to control your emotions, better managing your time, practicing self-care more often, and imposing healthy boundaries in your relationships.
- Veenhoven, R. (2003). Hedonism and happiness. Journal of happiness studies, 4(4), 437-457.
- Eldeleklioğlu, J. (2015). Predictive effects of subjective happiness, forgiveness, and rumination on life satisfaction. Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, 43(9), 1563-1574.
- Davydov, D. M., Stewart, R., Ritchie, K., & Chaudieu, I. (2010). Resilience and mental health. Clinical psychology review, 30(5), 479-495.
- Rezvan, S., Bahrami, F., & Abedi, M. (2006). The effect of emotional regulation on happiness and mental rumination of students. Iranian Journal of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology, 12(3), 251-257.
- Richards, K., Campenni, C., & Muse-Burke, J. (2010). Self-care and well-being in mental health professionals: The mediating effects of self-awareness and mindfulness. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 32(3), 247-264.
- Nicholls, A. R., Polman, R. C., Levy, A. R., & Backhouse, S. H. (2008). Mental toughness, optimism, pessimism, and coping among athletes. Personality and individual differences, 44(5), 1182-1192.
- Gerber, M., Kalak, N., Lemola, S., Clough, P. J., Perry, J. L., Pühse, U., … & Brand, S. (2013). Are adolescents with high mental toughness levels more resilient against stress?. Stress and Health, 29(2), 164-171.