13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do (2017) tells us how to cultivate mental resilience. In the book, the author Amy Morin who is a social worker and psychotherapist, recounts how she was able to summon the strength to deal with the sudden demise of her mother and husband at a young age.  “Avoiding these thirteen habits,” she writes, “isn’t just what will help you through grief. Getting rid of them will help you develop mental strength, which is essential to dealing with all life’s problems—big or small.”

13 things mentally strong people don't do summary

“13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do” Summary

  • They Don’t Waste Time Feeling Sorry For Themselves
  • They Don’t Give Away Their Power
  • They Don’t Shy Away From Change
  • They Don’t Focus On Things They Can’t Control
  • They Don’t Worry About Pleasing Everyone
  • They Don’t Fear Taking Calculated Risks
  • They Don’t Dwell On The Past
  • The Don’t Make The Same Mistake Over And Over
  • They Don’t Resent Other People’s Success
  • They Don’t Give Up After The First Failure
  • They Don’t Fear Alone Time
  • They Don’t Feel The World Owes Them Anything
  • They Don’t Expect Immediate Results

Amy Morin “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do” Summary


Book Notes.

Chapter 1: They don’t waste time feeling sorry for themselves

  • “Self-pity is easily the most destructive of the non-pharmaceutical narcotics; it is addictive, gives momentary pleasure and separates the victim from reality.” —John Gardner
  • “A victim mentality is not an attractive characteristic. Complaining about how bad your life is will likely wear on people rather quickly. No one ever says, “What I really like about her is the fact that she always feels sorry for herself.” ”
  • “Sometimes self-pity becomes an act of defiance. It’s almost as if we assume that something will change if we dig in our heels and remind the universe that we deserve better. But that’s not how the world works. There isn’t a higher being—or a human being for that matter—who will swoop in and make sure we’re all dealt a fair hand in life.”
  • “I once witnessed a fender bender in a grocery store parking lot. Two cars were backing up at the same time and their rear bumpers collided. The collision appeared to cause only minor damage to each vehicle.”
  • “I watched as one driver jumped out of his vehicle and said, “Just what I needed. Why do these things always happen to me? As if I didn’t already have enough to deal with today!” ”
  • “Meanwhile, the other driver stepped out of his vehicle shaking his head. In a very calm voice he said, “Wow, we’re so lucky that no one got hurt. What a great day it is when you can get into an accident and walk away from it without a single injury.” ”
  • “Both men experienced the exact same event. However, their perception of the event was completely different. One man viewed himself as a victim of horrible circumstance while the other man viewed the event as good fortune. Their reaction was all about their differences in perception.”
  • “You can view the events that happen in your life in many different ways. If you choose to view circumstances in a way that says, “I deserve better,” you’ll feel self-pity often. If you choose to look for the silver lining, even in a bad situation, you’ll experience joy and happiness much more often.”
  • “Reframing the way you look at a situation isn’t always easy, especially when you’re feeling like the host of your own pity party. Asking yourself the following questions can help change your negative thoughts into more realistic thoughts:”
  • “What’s another way I could view my situation?” 
  • “What advice would I give to a loved one who had this problem?” 
  • “What evidence do I have that I can get through this?”
  • “While feeling sorry for yourself is about thinking I deserve better, gratitude is about thinking I have more than I deserve. Experiencing gratitude requires some extra effort, but it isn’t hard. Anyone can learn to become more grateful by developing new habits.”
  • “Say what you’re grateful for. If you aren’t likely to keep up with writing in a journal, make it a habit to say what you’re grateful for. Find one of life’s gifts to be grateful for each morning when you wake up and each night before you go to sleep. Say the words out loud, even if it’s just to yourself, because hearing the words of gratitude will increase your feelings of gratitude.”
  • “Researchers studied the differences that occur when people focus on their burdens versus focusing on what they’re grateful for. Simply acknowledging a few things you feel grateful for each day is a powerful way to create change. In fact, gratitude not only impacts your psychological health, it can also affect your physical health.”

Chapter 2: They don’t give away their power

  • “Each time you avoid saying no to something you really don’t want, you give away your power. If you don’t make any attempt to get your needs met, you’ll give people permission to take things away from you.”

Chapter 3: They don’t shy away from change

  • “Many people associate change with discomfort. And often, they underestimate their ability to tolerate the discomfort that accompanies a behavioral change.”
  • “Although change can feel uncomfortable, you won’t be able to increase your mental strength unless you’re willing to grow and improve.”
  • “Create a list of what is good about staying the same and what is bad about staying the same. Then, create a list about the potentially good and bad outcomes of making a change.”
  • “Don’t simply make your decision based on the sheer number of pros versus cons. Instead, examine the list. Read it over a few times and think about the potential consequences of changing versus staying the same. If you’re still considering change, this exercise can help you move closer to making a decision.”

Chapter 4: They don’t focus on things they can’t control

  • “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” —Maya Angelou
  • “Deciding what is within your control and what isn’t depends largely upon your belief system. The psychology field refers to this as your locus of control.”
  • “People with an external locus of control believe that their lives depend highly on fate, luck, or destiny. They’re more likely to believe “Whatever’s meant to be will be.” ”
  • “People with an internal locus of control believe they have complete control over their future. They take full responsibility for their successes and failures in life. They believe they have the ability to control everything from their financial future to their health.”
  • “Your locus of control will determine how you view your circumstances.”
  • “An internal locus of control has often been idealized as the “best” way to be. Ideas like “You can do anything if you just put your mind to it” have been valued in many cultures.”

Chapter 5: They don’t worry about pleasing everyone

  • “If automatically saying yes has become a habit in your life, learn how to evaluate your decision before giving an answer. When someone asks you to do something, ask yourself these questions before responding:”
  • “How will I feel if I do it?”
  • “Is this something I want to do?”
  • “What will I have to give up by doing this?”
  • “What will I gain by doing this?”

Chapter 6: They don’t fear taking calculated risks

  • “The truth is, most of us don’t really invest much time calculating which risks to take and which risks to avoid. Instead, we base our decisions on emotions or habit.”
  • “Risk starts out as a thought process. Whether you’re considering purchasing a new home, or you’re deciding whether to put on your seat belt, the decision involves some level of risk. Your thoughts about the risk will influence the way you feel, and ultimately, sway your behavior.”
  • “The level of risk you’ll experience in a given situation is unique to you. While speaking in front of a group is a risk to some people, it’s not risky at all to others. Ask yourself the following questions to help you calculate your risk level:”
  • “How much will this decision matter in five years?”
  • “What are the potential costs?”
  • “What are the potential benefits?”
  • “How will this help me achieve my goal?”
  • “What are the alternatives?”
  • “How good would it be if the best-case scenario came true?”
  • “What is the worst thing that could happen and how could I reduce the risk it will occur?”
  • “How bad would it be if the worst-case scenario did come true?”

Chapter 7:  They don’t dwell on the past

  • “We do not heal the past by dwelling there; we heal the past by living fully in the present.” —Marianne Williamson
  • “Refusing to dwell on the past doesn’t mean you pretend the past didn’t happen. In fact, it often means embracing and accepting your experiences so you can live in the present. Doing so frees up your mental energy and allows you to plan for your future based on who you want to become, not who you used to be.”
  • “Establish goals for the future. It’s impossible to dwell on the past if you’re planning for the future. Establish both short-term and long-term goals and begin working on the action steps needed to achieve those goals. It will give you something to look forward to while also preventing you from looking too much into the past.”

Chapter 8: The don’t make the same mistakes over and over

  • “When you view mistakes not as something negative but instead as an opportunity to improve yourself, you’ll be able to devote time and energy into making sure you don’t repeat them.”

Chapter 9: They don’t resent other people’s success

  • “It’s easy to resent what others have when you don’t even know what you want yourself.”
  • “When you overlook the fact that most people only reach their goals by investing time, money, and effort to get there, it’s more likely that you’ll resent their achievements. It’s easy to look at a professional athlete and say, “I wish I could do that.” But do you really? Do you wish you got up and worked out twelve hours a day? Do you really wish your entire income rested solely upon your athletic abilities that will decline as you age?”
  • “When you’re able to be happy about other people’s accomplishments, you’ll attract—rather than repel—successful people. Surrounding yourself with others who are working hard to reach their goals can be good for you. You may gain motivation, inspiration, and information that can help you along your journey.”

Chapter 10: They don’t give up after the first failure

  • “Irrational thoughts about failure may cause you to quit after your first failed attempt. Work on replacing them with more realistic thoughts. Failure isn’t likely as bad as you make it out to be in your mind. Focus on your efforts instead of the outcome.”
  • “Replace the irrational thoughts with these realistic reminders:”
  • “Failure is often part of the journey to success.”
  • “I can handle failure.”
  • “I can learn from my failures.”
  • “Failure is a sign that I’m challenging myself and I can choose to try again.”
  • “I have the power to overcome failure if I choose.”

Chapter 11: They don’t fear alone time

  • “Being alone often gets confused with being lonely. Feelings of loneliness have been linked to poor sleep, high blood pressure, weaker immune systems, and increased stress hormones. But being alone doesn’t necessarily cause loneliness. In fact, many people feel lonely when they’re surrounded by others in a crowded room. Loneliness is about perceiving that no one is there for you. But solitude is about making a choice to be alone with your thoughts.”

Chapter 12: They don’t feel the world owes them anything

  • “Increasing your mental strength sometimes requires you to accept what the world gives you without complaining that you deserve better. And although it’s tempting to say we don’t ever feel like the world owes us anything—after all, it’s not a very attractive quality—there are times that we all think we’re owed more in some fashion.”
  • “Pay close attention to the times and areas in your life where this attitude likely sneaks in, and take steps to rid yourself of this self-destructive mentality.”

Chapter 13: They don’t expect immediate results

  • “Expecting immediate results can also cause you to prematurely abandon your efforts. If you aren’t seeing results right away, you may incorrectly assume your efforts aren’t working.”
  • “A willingness to develop realistic expectations and an understanding that success doesn’t happen overnight is necessary if you want to reach your full potential.”
  • “… be willing to commit to the long haul and you’ll increase the chances that you’ll be able to reach your goals.”


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