Submitted to ASN Lifestyle Magazine by Michael Bell
Mental strength and confidence in your relationships aren’t often reflected in what you do… they're usually seen in what you don’t do and “heard” through nonverbal communication.
What relates to much of life revolves around controlling your thoughts, behaviors, and emotions. You can’t control others; however, you do have control over yourself. In her book “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do,” Amy Morin writes that developing mental strength is important.
From our experiences with couples in modern-day relationships and our experience with vanilla couples, here are our thoughts on what mentally strong people do not do in relationships.
1. They don’t waste time feeling sorry for themselves.
You know what is self-destructive? Feeling sorry for yourself. Stop throwing yourself pity parties because all it is doing is wasting time, creating negative emotions, and it hurts your relationships. Get rid of the self-pity and start appreciating what you do have and whom you do have in your life. Look up the positive emotion optimism and, if you are unsure of how to make this one of your character strengths, reach out to us at any time about this and any of the following concepts for coaching at HolliandMichael@gmail.com.
2. They don’t give away their power.
"People give away their power when they lack physical and emotional boundaries," Morin writes. When appropriate, stand up for yourself and define where the “line” is and how you will handle the situation if your partner crosses it. If you allow other people to be in control of you, those people now define your success and self-worth. Put a stop to it now and take back control over yourself.
3. They don’t shy away from change.
There are five stages of change, Morin writes: pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance. Following through with each of the five steps is crucial. Making changes can be frightening, but shying away from them prevents growth. “The longer you wait, the harder it gets,” she says. “Other people will outgrow you.” Do you want your partner outgrowing you or growing with you? Look up the character strengths of creativity.
4. They don’t focus on things they can’t control.
Control what you can control… let the other things go. Trying to be in control of everything can be a response to fear. Realize what it is you fear and work only to control yourself, not others.
Morin writes, "shifting your focus off the things you can’t control can create increased happiness, less stress, better relationships, new opportunities, and more success." Look up the positive psychology role of personal control in adaptive functioning.
5. They don’t worry about pleasing everyone.
We often judge ourselves by considering what other people think of us, which is the opposite of mental toughness. What your partner thinks is important; however, the outside world should not have a major influence on your actions. Morin lists four facts about constantly trying to be a people-pleaser: It’s a waste of time; people-pleasers are easily manipulated; it’s OK for others to feel angry or disappointed; and, you can’t please everyone.
Want to feel stronger and more self-confident? Stop worrying about pleasing everyone and focus on yourself and your partner. Look up the positive psychology trait toughness theory.
6. They don’t fear taking calculated risks.
Are you afraid to take risks, what about calculated risks? Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. Whether it’s financial, physical, emotional, social, or business-related, risks are a part of life. You’ve heard of risk versus reward, haven’t you? Ask yourself, how big is the reward compared to the risk I may take? Morin writes, “A lack of knowledge about how to calculate risk leads to increased fear.” Increasing your fear is counterproductive and not sexy.
To better analyze a risk, ask yourself the following questions:
1. How will this help me/us achieve my/our relationship goal(s)?
2. How will my partner feel about each possible outcome?
3. How good would it be if the best-case scenario came true?
4. What is the worst thing that could happen, and how could I reduce the risk it will occur?
5. How bad would it be if the worst-case scenario did come true?
6. How much will this decision matter in five years?
Look up the positive psychology trait of self-efficacy.
7. They don’t dwell on the past.
Yesterday is the past, tomorrow is the future, and today is a gift; that’s why it’s called the present (we memorized this quote from the movie “Kung Fu Panda”). There’s no way to change what happened yesterday, so leave the past where it is — in the past. Experiences aren’t mistakes when you learn from them. Dwelling can be self-destructive, preventing you from enjoying the present, and planning for the future. It doesn’t solve anything and can lead to depression, anxiety, and arguments with your partner about things you can’t change. Why can’t you change them? They happened in the past. What can you control? Today and the future. We absolutely need to learn from the past by understanding what each of us could have done differently in order to reach a mutually desirable outcome. Look up the positive psychology trait self-esteem and the character strength forgiveness.
8. They don’t make the same mistakes over and over.
Reflecting, not dwelling, on the past can ensure you don’t repeat your mistakes. It’s important to understand what may have gone wrong, what either of you could have done better, and how to do it differently next time, Morin writes. Mentally strong healthy people in relationships accept responsibility for their mistakes and create a thoughtful, plan to avoid making the same mistake in the future. Relationships take work and when done properly are the best “careers” you can ever have. Look up the positive character strengths hope and prudence.
9. They don’t resent other people’s success.
You look across the room and see a couple smiling, laughing, and holding hands. You wonder what it would be like if you and your partner could still do that. Well, guess what? You can. Instead of wanting or even resenting others for their happiness, mirror it. Remember what makes you and your partner smile. Remember what makes each of you laugh. Be the difference you want and grow with your partner. Another thing to keep in mind is that what you see in public between a couple may not be what their relationship is like behind closed doors. Instead of wishing you had what they appear to have, create what you want with your partner. It’s literally up to each of you. Instead of resenting other peoples’ success, represent the success you want. Look up the positive character strength gratitude.
10. They don’t give up after the first failure.
Relationship success isn’t immediate, and failure is an obstacle you will have to overcome. Thinking that failure is unacceptable or that it means you aren’t good enough does not reflect mental relationship strength. By no fault of anyone’s, people grow apart. You are not a failure if your relationship isn’t working, and together, you decide it’s best to move on. However, in our opinion, you could consider it a failure if you keep your relationship on life support versus doing what’s in both of your best interests and pulling the plug. Go back to not dwelling on the past and not making the same mistakes over and over, learn where you may have been better off acting differently, and then model that in your next relationship. In fact, “bouncing back after failure will make you stronger,” Morin writes. Look up the positive psychology of self-efficacy and the character strengths teamwork and love of learning.
11. They don’t fear alone time.
GNO’s are powerful building blocks in relationships. Oh, what’s a GNO, you ask? Girls Night Out or Guys Night Out. It is important to understand that growing separately does not mean growing apart. Spend time with your friends, have hobbies together and separately, and don’t fear being alone whether your partner is out or you currently don’t have a partner. Desperation stinks, and it is a scent that can be smelled from miles away. Creating time to be alone with your thoughts can be a powerful experience, instrumental in helping you reach your relationship goals, Morin suggests. Look up the character strength zest and bravery as well as the positive psychology of self-esteem. If you are unsure of how to make any or all three of these recommendations part of your regular character strengths, reach out to us at any time for coaching (HolliandMichael@gmail.com).
Relationships take work. Comparing yourself to others or feeling the world owes you something is self-destructive. Becoming mentally healthy and strong in your relationship means working on yourself and working together toward a common goal. You cannot allow your needs and wants to suffer in order to please your partner; however, you also cannot demand that life be lived your way or no way at all.
This article appeared in the March 2020 issue of ASN Lifestyle Magazine.
13 things mentally strong people avoid – Business Insider. (2015, November 30). Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/mentally-strong-people-2015-11?utm_source=msn&utm_medium=referral
Morin, A. (2014). 13 things mentally strong people don’t do: Take back your power, embrace change, face your fears, and train your brain for happiness and success. HarperCollins Publishers.