There are people who struggle to face life obstacles, and people who seem able to easily bounce back from failure.
Those who seem to be more resilient don’t necessarily have everything under control. Their life is not perfect.
However, they somehow tend to find a way to manage adversity in the right way, and eventually come out of it stronger.
What follows are seven habits they usually have in common — and that can help you build mental strength and resilience.
1. Mentally strong people focus on the things they can control
It’s not a coincidence I’m mentioning this point before all the others.
See, before anything else, mental strength means knowing where to focus your energy. It means using it wisely.
As Amy Morin mentions on an article published on Inc, mentally strong people focus on productive tasks — rather than concentrating on the things that frustrate them and that they can’t control.
Let me give you an example. You’re working on a project at work but you still don’t see results.
Your metrics are not so good, but you know it takes time to actually see an improvement — all you have to do is keep working.
In this situation a mentally strong person would ignore the metrics for a while and focus on the tasks that can lead to an improvement, that actually matter and can drive results.
The mentally weak person instead, will spend time complaining and sharing their frustration with their colleagues — consequently focusing less time and energy on the tasks that matter.
2. They don’t take everything personally
Mentally strong people don’t take things too personally.
If someone doesn’t say hi or doesn’t smile back, it’s not the end of the world, they know that person might just be having a bad day.
If someone they hardly know criticizes them, they don’t invest too much of their energy on that. They might use that negative comment as a constructive feedback, but nothing more than that.
Because what they truly care about is what they think about themselves.
So they focus on continuously improving who they are so that one day they can feel proud of themselves. Because their goal is not to please others, but to become the best version of themselves.
3. Nothing can distract them from their life purpose
There’s a nice analogy I’ve heard a few days ago on an Instagram reel, which explains this perfectly.
Imagine you’re at home, cooking pasta.
The water is already boiling but you realize you don’t have salt. So you decide to quickly go to the groceries store around the corner.
It will take you just four or five minutes, so it’s not a big deal. You can leave the pasta cook — for no more than eight minutes, as indicated on the package — and come back.
On your way to the grocery store you stumble upon a friend you haven’t seen in a while. You say hi, hug them, and tell them you’re in a hurry and that you’ll call them later.
Of course you do that, or your pasta will boil forever, right?
That’s what mentally strong people do with their life. The salt is something that is key to their life purpose in a certain moment; the friend is a distraction — at least in that moment; the pasta is their life purpose.
Mentally strong people have a purpose, and they don’t let anything distract them from it.
4. They focus on the present
As Amy Morin mentioned in Inc, mentally strong people focus on the present instead of thinking too much about the past. They don’t let the past distract them.
See, it’s ok to think about the past and see it as an opportunity to learn from your mistakes, but it’s not ok to focus all your energy on it and obsessing over it.
And this goes hand in hand with the first point of this article.
Mentally strong people know their past is one of the things they can’t control — because it’s gone — while their present is the only thing they can actually control.
5. They don’t feel the need to judge others
Mentally strong people focus on how to grow.
Their priority is to become the best version of themselves.
So they don’t waste time putting others down to feel better about themselves. As Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D. explains in Psychology Today, that’s something people with a low self-esteem do.
Mentally resilient people don’t need to judge others — also because they understand that you never know for sure what’s actually behind other people’s actions or decisions.
6. They set healthy boundaries
“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others.”
— Brené Brown
Setting boundaries is essential to protect and maintain your mental and emotional health, so that you can focus on your life and on the things that matter.
It’s an act of self-love.
Unlike people pleasers who tend to prioritize other people’s needs over theirs, mentally tough people know when they have to set healthy boundaries. And they’re not afraid of that.
They are willing to say no, even when they know they might disappoint someone.
7. They embrace failure
As we mentioned before, mentally strong people see failure as an opportunity to learn and grow. They use it as a tool to succeed. I love how Travis Bradberry explained this on Forbes:
“Your mistakes pave the way for you to succeed. The biggest breakthroughs typically come when you’re feeling the most frustrated and the most stuck. It’s this frustration that forces you to think differently, to look outside the box, and to see the solution that you’ve been missing.”
And I couldn’t agree more.
Another point worth mentioning is this: While using your mistakes as a tool for growth is the best thing you can do, you shouldn’t fall into the trap of over obsessing over them.
That’s the mindset mentally strong people adopt: they acknowledge the mistake, analyze it if they need to, and the move on.
Mental resilience is one of those skills anyone can learn and eventually master.
Here’s a summary of the habits mentally strong people have in common:
- They only focus on the things they can control;
- They don’t take everything personally;
- Nothing can distract them from their life purpose;
- They focus on the present;
- They don’t feel the need to judge others;
- They set healthy boundaries;
- They embrace failure.