13 Things Mentally Strong College Students Don't Do

Getting rid of these unhealthy habits boosts resilience.

Posted Oct 30, 2015

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Developing resilience to stress and imrpoving your psychological health isn't always about adding more good habits to your routine. Instead, reaching your greatest potential often means getting rid of the bad habits that are holding you back.

Whether you're hoping to gain more direction for your future, or you're striving to improve your academic performance, building mental strength will help you reach your goals. To become mentally strong, you must give up the bad habits that prevent you from becoming your best self.

Here are the 13 things mentally strong college students don't do:

1. Waste Time Feeling Sorry for Themselves

Many of life's problems and sorrows are inevitable, but feeling sorry for yourself is a choice. Whether you're drowning in student loan debt, or you're struggling to pass Advanced Calculus, indulging in self-pity won't fix your problems.

If you're tempted to host a pity party when the going gets rough, train your brain to exchange self-pity with gratitude. Mentally strong people don't waste their time and energy thinking about the problem, instead they focus on creating a solution.

2. Give Away Their Power

It can be tempting to blame other people for when you face problems and experience uncomfortable emotions. Thinking things like, "My professor makes me feel bad about myself," however, gives others power over you.

Take back your power by accepting full responsibility for how you think, feel, and behave. Empowering yourself is an essential component to building mental strength and creating the kind of life you want to live.

3. Shy Away From Change

Although you likely feel safest when when you stay within your comfort zone, a safe life isn't necessary fulfilling. Avoiding new challenges serves as the biggest obstacle to living a full and rich life.

Acknowledge when you're avoiding change simply because you want to escape the discomfort associated with doing something new. Commit to facing uncomfortable emotions head-on. The more you practice stepping outside your comfort zone, the more confident you'll become in your ability to tolerate the distress that may be necessary to reach your full potential.

4. Waste Energy on Things They Can't Control

It's tempting sometimes to worry about all the wrong things. Rather than focus on preparing for the storm, you may be tempted to waste energy wishing the storm wouldn't come. If you invested that same energy into the things you do have control over, you'd be much better prepared for whatever life throws our way.

Acknowledge the things you can't control, but don't waste too much time and energy on them. Rather than waste your resources worrying about things like your roommate's GPA or how the job market is going to look when you graduate, devote your energy to problems you can change.

5. Worry About Pleasing Everyone

Choosing a major based on what your parents want you to do, or accepting an internship that a professor wants you to take, can interfere with your ability to create your own path in life. Doing things that won't be met with favor takes courage, but living a truly authentic life requires you to live according to your values, even when your choices aren't popular.

Cherish what it means to be an adult—you get to make your own choices, regardless of what other people think. It's not your job to make anyone else happy. Be bold and brave, even when others around you aren't happy about your choices.  

6. Fear Taking Calculated Risks

You likely make dozens—if not hundreds—of choices every day with very little consideration of the risks you're taking. And in college, calculating those risks fall on your shoulders for the first time. It's up to you decide everything from what you're going to do on Friday night to what career path you're going to take.

Avoid basing your decisions solely on emotion, rather than the true level of risk. Emotions can be irrational and unreliable so your level of fear isn't an accurate way to calculate risk. You don't get to be extraordinary without taking risks, but it's important to take calculated risks, not reckless ones.

7. Dwell on the Past

While reflecting on the past can help you learn valuable lessons, ruminating on your history can be harmful. Whether you were bullied in junior high, or still can't believe you didn't pass that class last semester, dwelling on it will only hold you back.

Although moving forward can be hard—especially if you've endured your share of misfortune—it's a necessary step to becoming your best self. Make peace with your past so you can enjoy the present and make your future as good as it can be.

8. Make the Same Mistakes Over and Over

It'd be nice to learn enough from each mistake that you'd be guaranteed to never repeat that same mistake twice. But, how many times have you said, "I'll never do that again," only to find yourself right back at it a few days later?

Mentally strong people don't hide their mistakes or make excuses for them. Instead they turn their mistakes into opportunities for self-growth. Be humble and learn from your mistakes, and you'll find new strategies to become better. 

9. Resent Other People's Success

No matter where you go to college, you're bound to be surrounded by people who are prettier, smarter, wealthier, and more successful. Focusing on all the things other people have however, will interfere with your ability to reach your goals.

When you're secure in your own definition of success, you'll stop resenting other people for obtaining their goals and you'll be committed to reaching your dreams. Remember that your journey in life is different and unique. Compete to become better than who you were yesterday, rather than compare yourself with those around you.

10. Give Up After Failure

From a young age, you may have been taught that failure is bad. But, it's nearly impossible to succeed if you never fail. 

Mentally strong people view failure as proof that they're pushing themselves to the limits in their efforts to reach their full potential. While it's normal to feel embarrassed, discouraged, and downright defeated when your first attempts don't work, don't give up. Turn failure into an opportunity to beome better.

11. Fear Alone Time 

In today's fast paced world, obtaining a little quiet time takes a concerted effort. But avoiding silence and solitude because it feels uncomfortable isn't healthy.

Taking time for yourself is an essential component to building mental strength. Create opportunities to be alone with your thoughts so you can reflect on your progress and consider your goals for the future.

12. Feel the World Owes Them Anything

It's easy to get caught up in feeling a sense of entitlement. But waiting for the world— or the people in it—to give you what you think you're owed isn't a helpful life strategy. Just because you work hard, doesn't mean you deserve success. Or toughing it out through bad times doesn't mean you deserve good things to happen.

Focus on what you have to give, rather than what you think you deserve. You have gifts to share with the world, regardless of whether you've gotten a "fair deal" in life.

13. Expect Immediate Results

The "no lines, no waiting" lifestyle makes your brain start to believe that everything should happen instantaneously. But not everything happens at lightning speed. Self-growth develops at more of a snail's pace.

Whether you're trying to lose weight or you want to improve your self-confidence, slow and steady wins the race and expecting immediate results will only lead to disappointment. Even when it feels like you're moving too slow, keep going. As long as you're headed in the right direction, you're making progress.

Build Your Mental Muscle

Gaining mental strength is a lot like building physical strength. While a successful bodybuilder needs to maintain his physique with good habits, like going to the gym, it's equally important for that bodybuilder to get rid of unhealthy habits, like eating junk food. An exercise regimen won't be effective in building lean muscle unless unhealthy eating habits are also eliminated.

Similarly, building mental muscle requires hard work, dedication and exercise. In addition to adopting healthy habits, it's also essential to avoid detrimental habits—like thinking negatively, engaging in unproductive behavior, and indulging in self-destructive emotions.

The good news is, everyone has the ability to build mental strength. But to do so, you need to develop self-awareness about the self-destructive thoughts, behaviors, and feelings that prevent you from reaching your full potential. Once you recognize areas that need work, commit to mental strength exercises that will help you create healthier habits and build mental muscle.

Source: AmyMorinLCSW.com

Want to learn more about how to give up the bad habits that are holding you back? Check out my book 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do.

Interested in learning more about mental strength? Check out my eCourse Mental Strength: Mastering the 3 Core Factors.