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Posted on: July 19, 2019 at 8:24 am

Building habits is like lifting weights at the gym. At first, it’s extremely difficult. The muscles break down after you workout, and you never want to pick up another dumbbell again. But when you do, it gets easier until you can lift that heavyweight without any strain. Your muscles have recovered and grown stronger.

Mental ‘muscles’ work the same way. You must break bad habits to build strong, new ones. It seems impossible at first, but over time, you notice how far you’ve come and how happy you are because of it. Bad habits are experts at holding you back from achieving your goals.

Amy Morin discusses these issues in her new book, 13 Things Mentally Strong Women Don’t Do, with particular regard to gender and the bad habits women tend to adopt. Cultural expectations, societal pressures, and the slight differences in how girls are raised sometimes contribute to them developing these unhealthy habits. [1]

If you recognize one or many of these habits within yourself, that’s great. You’ve already taken the first step to change and strengthen your mental muscles.

Here are 13 Habits Mentally Strong Women Don’t Do:

1. Compare Themselves to Others

Social media throws portraits of seemingly perfect and successful people into your feed every day. Even those without any accounts can have moments of discouragement when a friend gushes about their awesome job, pay raise, or some other fortune. It’s tempting to compare yourself, to wonder why she has that and you don’t. However, this is counterproductive. You can’t control other people’s lives, only your own. Don’t let them distract you from your goals.

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2. Insist on Perfection

Perfectionism is toxic. It brings incredible stress to your life and sucks the enjoyment out of any project, all while being completely unattainable. High expectations are good, but perfection is debilitating. [2]

3. See Vulnerability as Weakness

It’s helpful to have a good game face. It shows others you’re serious and confidant. However, you don’t have to wear it all the time. It’s okay to ask for help and admit you don’t know all the answers. Acknowledging your weaknesses is how you become stronger. Pretending they don’t exist may cripple your long-term success.

4. Allow Self-Doubt to Prevent Them from Achieving Their Goals

All high achievers have little voice in their heads prattling on about how they’re not good enough, everything they do is unworthwhile, and their hard work will never amount to anything. If you have these thoughts, congratulations, you have something in common with many great people. Like them, ignore the voice until you prove it wrong.

5. Overthink Everything

Everyone makes mistakes, and some fumbles are more embarrassing than others. Acknowledge the mistake and move on. Don’t waste time and mental energy rehashing the scenario over and over, hating yourself, and worrying about far-fetched consequences. This behavior is emotionally taxing. Take a lesson from the humiliating experience, make a plan never to repeat it, and carry on. [3]

6. Shy Away from Challenges

Nothing worthwhile gets done in the comfort zone. If you have big dreams, you will have to face tough situations to achieve them. Although it’s uncomfortable and sometimes terrifying to face challenges, be brave. Takedown one fear at a time, and revel in how good that feels after.

7. Afraid of Breaking Rules

Many young girls are taught to be polite and well-mannered. There are times when rules must be trod and broken to make a difference. Sometimes, people limit themselves by self-inflicted rules that don’t exist outside their heads. Don’t allow yourself to restrict your own potential.

8. Put Others Down to Lift Themselves Up

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Sometimes it’s tempting to insult people, point out their flaws, or lower their statuses to raise your own. This alienates others, and while it makes seem helpful short-term, you will be labeled as untrustworthy. Raising others brings yourself up as well. You earn their trust, help, and long-term success. [4]

9. Let Others Limit Their Potential

People might have said you will never achieve your dream, you won’t amount to anything, you don’t deserve a promotion, or you are too (fill in negative trait here) to succeed. These words could be soul-crushing to hear, but don’t let them cage you. Believe in yourself and your skills. Take whatever lesson you could from the criticism and rejection, and don’t let them stop you.

10. Blame Themselves When Bad Things Happen

Accepting responsibility for a mistake is an important skill to have, but that doesn’t include a spiraling mode of self-blame. This toxic habit lowers your confidence and your productivity. Say “I made a bad decision” instead of “I am a bad person.” [5]

11. Stay Silent

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Women tend to stay silent in a place of intensity and stress, like business meetings, especially when the board is a majority of men. They don’t speak up for three reasons:

  • They didn’t think their ideas were good.
  • They didn’t want to seem loud or aggressive
  • They couldn’t think fast enough on their feet.
  • They were afraid of being wrong. [6]

Thinking on your feet is a skill that develops over time with practice and confidence. The other three depend purely on your self-esteem. Find your voice and don’t be afraid to use it.

12. Slow to Reinvent Themselves

Don’t hold yourself back from growing by clinging to your old self. Your personality, priorities, and values will naturally shift as you mature. Let them. Reinvent yourself into whatever better version of yourself you could be, whether it’s a career change, making supportive friends to replace old toxic ones, or embracing your spirituality.

13. Don’t Own Their Success

When someone compliments you, never say some variation of “it was no big deal” or “it was really this other person’s idea” or “your accomplishment is so much greater than mine.” It’s not arrogant to say a simple “thank you.” Own your achievements; you’ve worked hard for them. [7]

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Giving up these unhealthy habits will be a challenge, but it will be worth it. Changing the ways you think, feel, and act will change how you work. Once you break free, you may be surprised at how much you can achieve.

  1. Amy Morin, LCSW. 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do https://amymorinlcsw.com/mentally-strong-people/
  2. Psychology Today. Perfectionism https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/perfectionism
  3. Amy Morin. 6 Tips to Stop Overthinking https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201602/6-tips-stop-overthinking February 12, 2016
  4. Dominique Jones. Strong Leaders Don’t Put Others Down https://www.saba.com/blog/strong-leaders-dont-put-others-down February 19, 2015
  5. Jonice Webb, PhD. The Self-Blame Game: An Obstacle to Change https://psychcentral.com/blog/the-self-blame-game-an-obstacle-to-change/ July 8, 2018
  6. Kirsten Blakemore Edwards. Even Powerful Women Struggle to Speak Up in a Meeting Full of Men. Here’s How to Overcome That https://www.inc.com/partners-in-leadership/breaking-the-silence-in-the-boardroom-even-when-yo.html July 21, 2017
  7. Jacqueline Whitmore. 8 Ways to Gracefully Receive a Compliment https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/282225 September 20, 2016
  8. Jennice Vilhauer Ph.D. The 5 Mental Traits of Those Who Succeed at Change https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/living-forward/201809/the-5-mental-traits-those-who-succeed-change September 30, 2018
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Sarah Biren
Founder of The Creative Palate
Sarah is a baker, cook, author, and blogger living in Toronto. She believes that food is the best method of healing and a classic way of bringing people together. In her spare time, Sarah does yoga, reads cookbooks, writes stories, and finds ways to make any type of food in her blender. Her blog The Creative Palate shares the nutrition and imagination of her recipes for others embarking on their journey to wellbeing.

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