... and why believing them can hold you back.
We spend a lot of time talking about physical strength, but devote a lot less attention to mental strength. As a result, there are a lot of misconceptions about what it means to be "mentally strong." Here are 7 of the biggest myths about mentally strong people:
1. They were born strong.
Babies aren't born with Hulk-like physical strength, and no one comes out of the womb possessing powerful mental strength, either. Everyone has the ability to develop the cognitive, emotional, and behavioral skills that build mental muscle. Growing stronger takes practice and hard work—as well as a commitment to giving up the bad habits that could hold you back
—but everyone has the ability to grow stronger.
2. They are cold and unemotional.
Mentally strong people experience emotions like everyone else, but they’re acutely aware of how their emotions can influence their thoughts and behavior. They're able to behave contrary to their feelings when doing so helps them reach their goals, and they refuse to allow their emotions to control them.
3. They are bossy and aggressive.
Mentally strong people don't worry about pleasing everyone—but they don't try to control others in a bossy or aggressive manner, either. Instead, they accept personal responsibility for their behavior and don't waste energy trying to manipulate others with harsh tactics.
4. They have never endured real hardship.
Many mentally strong people have overcome incredible hardships, from troubled childhoods to financial ruin. But they don't use their misfortune as an excuse for not reaching their goals. Instead, they turn those experiences into learning opportunities that help them grow stronger.
5. They don't ask for help.
Mentally strong people have enough confidence to admit when they don't have all the answers. They're willing to seek assistance from others who have more experience, expertise, education, or resources. They seek personal or professional help when necessary, and don't shame other individuals who seek to better themselves.
6. They don't have mental health problems.
Mental health and mental strength are two separate things, but people often assume things like, "I can't be mentally strong because I have depression." That's just not true: Some of the strongest people have battled mental health problems. As much as people with asthma can choose to build physical strength, people with depression, anxiety, or other conditions can develop mental strength.
7. They pride themselves on ignoring pain.
Being mentally strong doesn't mean you have to compete in triathlons or walk across hot coals just for the sake of it. Mentally strong people endure discomfort—when it's for a greater purpose. They're interested in learning from pain, not simply getting through it.
Just as you can perform exercises that build physical strength, you can choose to do exercises that boost your mental strength. Practice regulating your thoughts, managing your emotions, and behaving productively despite whatever circumstances you find yourself in. Increasing your mental strength is the key to reaching your greatest potential. Make it a top priority. If you do one thing every day to build mental muscle, positive results will follow.