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9 Secrets Mentally Strong People Live By

9 Secrets Mentally Strong People Live By

What does it mean to be mentally strong?

Well, what it doesn’t mean is that you never struggle with issues like anxiety and depression. We all have to work with these states to some degree at one time or another. The person completely free of them is as rare as an honest politician.

You don’t have to be an enlightened master meditating in a Himalayan cave 24/7 to achieve your own version of mental strength though. With some practice and an intention toward awareness, you can thrive or even soar when life gets challenging.

There are many ways to become mentally strong. Listed below are nine pointers that anyone can incorporate into their lives. And though they may sound like the clichéd utterances of a bleary-eyed new-ager, there is some solid wisdom here.

1. Love yourself first, above everything else.

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    You might feel a weirdness in your chest at the notion of self love. Don’t worry. A lot of people do. But the fact is, it’s tough to love others if you don’t love yourself.

    Consider the oxygen mask on the airplane metaphor. Selfish as it may feel, you have to put on your own oxygen mask first in order to help others.

    2. Learn to be both soft and strong.

    The ability to see the world in shades beyond black and white is part of being mentally strong.

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    Many ascribe weakness to things that are soft, and power to things that are strong. But that’s black and white thinking.

    It is not only possible, but necessary to be both soft and strong to maintain balance and mental strength. For example, in one moment a mother elephant will gently rub her trunk against her calf as it nurses, and in another she’s fierce and ready to trample any animal that threatens her baby.

    Another less esoteric example? Toilet paper.

    3. Keep going, even when things get tough.

    Giving up is the belief that you don’t have what it takes and cannot endure. It is riddled with self-doubt and hopelessness.

    The mentally strong hold on to hope. They know that nothing is permanent and understand that with challenge comes growth.

    Yet with that being said…

    4. Know when to let go and do so bravely.

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      There’s a huge difference between giving up and surrendering. Giving up is a loss of belief and hope. Surrendering carries with it the knowledge of a healthy threshold, and not surpassing that.

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      Because it’s so often associated with giving up, surrendering can be one of the toughest obstacles to overcome. Especially if you’re a control freak. But it’s also one of the most freeing.

      5. Fake it till you make it.

      “Your beliefs become your thoughts,

      Your thoughts become your words,

      Your words become your actions,

      Your actions become your habits,

      Your habits become your values,

      Your values become your destiny.”

      -Mahatma Gandhi

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      ‘Nuf said.

      6. Never settle when something isn’t good enough.

      Seriously.

      Unless, of course, you feel some affection toward being undervalued and enjoy the deep resentment that grows over time like a tumor. You’re allowed.

      That’s just not the way of the mentally strong.

      7. Say no without hesitation.

      If your gut intuition is telling you that something isn’t right, then it isn’t right. Those who are mentally strong know they have the option to reject anything that isn’t right for them.

      They are acutely aware that “no” is not a four-letter word.

      8. Eliminate toxic people from your life.

      Of course, this is easier said than done. Especially if one of the toxic people is currently camping on your couch.

      But it can be done.

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      Toxic people will stay in your life as long as you continue to give them what they want. It may start with your money, your companionship, your car. But eventually it will become your time, your attention and ultimately your energy.

      That’s a heavy toll on your mental state and you don’t need it.

      9. Praise yourself rather than waiting for other’s approval.

      By praise I’m not implying adopting a god(dess) complex.

      But appreciating oneself for achievements or positive actions is part of a mentally strong regimen. In other words, it’s healthy.

      This is quite different from using self-flagellation and -degradation to draw positive comments on the contrary. That would be less healthy.

      So try this.

      Rather than attempt to tackle all of these suggestions, simply think of them as single steps toward becoming mentally strong. Consider them baby steps. Use one or several as mantras. Take them in any order you want.

      And remember that you’re building a foundation toward becoming more mentally strong.

      Take the necessary time and care to make it solid and it’ll definitely pay off.

      What do you do to stay mentally strong? Share your stories.

      Featured photo credit: Eyes by Dboybaker via flickr.com

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      Last Updated on December 4, 2020

      How to Give Constructive Feedback in the Workplace

      How to Give Constructive Feedback in the Workplace

      We all crave constructive feedback. We want to know not just what we’re doing well but also what we could be doing better.

      However, giving and getting constructive feedback isn’t just some feel-good exercise. In the workplace, it’s part and parcel of how companies grow.

      Let’s take a closer look.

      Why Constructive Feedback Is Critical

      A culture of feedback benefits individuals on a team and the team itself. Constructive feedback has the following effects:

      Builds Workers’ Skills

      Think about the last time you made a mistake. Did you come away from it feeling attacked—a key marker of destructive feedback—or did you feel like you learned something new?

      Every time a team member learns something, they become more valuable to the business. The range of tasks they can tackle increases. Over time, they make fewer mistakes, require less supervision, and become more willing to ask for help.

      Boosts Employee Loyalty

      Constructive feedback is a two-way street. Employees want to receive it, but they also want the feedback they give to be taken seriously.

      If employees see their constructive feedback ignored, they may take it to mean they aren’t a valued part of the team. Nine in ten employees say they’d be more likely to stick with a company that takes and acts on their feedback.[1]

      Strengthens Team Bonds

      Without trust, teams cannot function. Constructive feedback builds trust because it shows that the giver of the feedback cares about the success of the recipient.

      However, for constructive feedback to work its magic, both sides have to assume good intentions. Those giving the feedback must genuinely want to help, and those getting it has to assume that the goal is to build them up rather than to tear them down.

      Promotes Mentorship

      There’s nothing wrong with a single round of constructive feedback. But when it really makes a difference is when it’s repeated—continuous, constructive feedback is the bread and butter of mentorship.

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      Be the change you want to see on your team. Give constructive feedback often and authentically, and others will naturally start to see you as a mentor.

      Clearly, constructive feedback is something most teams could use more of. But how do you actually give it?

      How to Give Constructive Feedback

      Giving constructive feedback is tricky. Get it wrong, and your message might fall on deaf ears. Get it really wrong, and you could sow distrust or create tension across the entire team.

      Here are ways to give constructive feedback properly:

      1. Listen First

      Often, what you perceive as a mistake is a decision someone made for a good reason. Listening is the key to effective communication.

      Seek to understand: how did the other person arrive at her choice or action?

      You could say:

      • “Help me understand your thought process.”
      • “What led you to take that step?”
      • “What’s your perspective?”

      2. Lead With a Compliment

      In school, you might have heard it called the “sandwich method”: Before (and ideally, after) giving difficult feedback, share a compliment. That signals to the recipient that you value their work.

      You could say:

      • “Great design. Can we see it with a different font?”
      • “Good thinking. What if we tried this?”

      3. Address the Wider Team

      Sometimes, constructive feedback is best given indirectly. If your comment could benefit others on the team, or if the person whom you’re really speaking to might take it the wrong way, try communicating your feedback in a group setting.

      You could say:

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      • “Let’s think through this together.”
      • “I want everyone to see . . .”

      4. Ask How You Can Help

      When you’re on a team, you’re all in it together. When a mistake happens, you have to realize that everyone—not just the person who made it—has a role in fixing it. Give constructive feedback in a way that recognizes this dynamic.

      You could say:

      • “What can I do to support you?”
      • “How can I make your life easier?
      • “Is there something I could do better?”

      5. Give Examples

      To be useful, constructive feedback needs to be concrete. Illustrate your advice by pointing to an ideal.

      What should the end result look like? Who has the process down pat?

      You could say:

      • “I wanted to show you . . .”
      • “This is what I’d like yours to look like.”
      • “This is a perfect example.”
      • “My ideal is . . .”

      6. Be Empathetic

      Even when there’s trust in a team, mistakes can be embarrassing. Lessons can be hard to swallow. Constructive feedback is more likely to be taken to heart when it’s accompanied by empathy.

      You could say:

      • “I know it’s hard to hear.”
      • “I understand.”
      • “I’m sorry.”

      7. Smile

      Management consultancies like Credera teach that communication is a combination of the content, delivery, and presentation.[2] When giving constructive feedback, make sure your body language is as positive as your message. Your smile is one of your best tools for getting constructive feedback to connect.

      8. Be Grateful

      When you’re frustrated about a mistake, it can be tough to see the silver lining. But you don’t have to look that hard. Every constructive feedback session is a chance for the team to get better and grow closer.

      You could say:

      • “I’m glad you brought this up.”
      • “We all learned an important lesson.”
      • “I love improving as a team.”

      9. Avoid Accusations

      Giving tough feedback without losing your cool is one of the toughest parts of working with others. Great leaders and project managers get upset at the mistake, not the person who made it.[3]

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      You could say:

      • “We all make mistakes.”
      • “I know you did your best.”
      • “I don’t hold it against you.”

      10. Take Responsibility

      More often than not, mistakes are made because of miscommunications Recognize your own role in them.

      Could you have been clearer in your directions? Did you set the other person up for success?

      You could say:

      • “I should have . . .”
      • “Next time, I’ll . . .”

      11. Time it Right

      Constructive feedback shouldn’t catch people off guard. Don’t give it while everyone is packing up to leave work. Don’t interrupt a good lunch conversation.

      If in doubt, ask the person to whom you’re giving feedback to schedule the session themselves. Encourage them to choose a time when they’ll be able to focus on the conversation rather than their next task.

      12. Use Their Name

      When you hear your name, your ears naturally perk up. Use that when giving constructive feedback. Just remember that constructive feedback should be personalized, not personal.

      You could say:

      • “Bob, I wanted to chat through . . .”
      • “Does that make sense, Jesse?”

      13. Suggest, Don’t Order

      When you give constructive feedback, it’s important not to be adversarial. The very act of giving feedback recognizes that the person who made the mistake had a choice—and when the situation comes up again, they’ll be able to choose differently.

      You could say:

      • “Next time, I suggest . . .”
      • “Try it this way.”
      • “Are you on board with that?”

      14. Be Brief

      Even when given empathetically, constructive feedback can be uncomfortable to receive. Get your message across, make sure there are no hard feelings, and move on.

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      One exception? If the feedback isn’t understood, make clear that you have plenty of time for questions. Rushing through what’s clearly an open conversation is disrespectful and discouraging.

      15. Follow Up

      Not all lessons are learned immediately. After giving a member of your team constructive feedback, follow it up with an email. Make sure you’re just as respectful and helpful in your written feedback as you are on your verbal communication.

      You could say:

      • “I wanted to recap . . .”
      • “Thanks for chatting with me about . . .”
      • “Did that make sense?”

      16. Expect Improvement

      Although you should always deliver constructive feedback in a supportive manner, you should also expect to see it implemented. If it’s a long-term issue, set milestones.

      By what date would you like to see what sort of improvement? How will you measure that improvement?

      You could say:

      • “I’d like to see you . . .”
      • “Let’s check back in after . . .”
      • “I’m expecting you to . . .”
      • “Let’s make a dent in that by . . .”

      17. Give Second Chances

      Giving feedback, no matter how constructive, is a waste of time if you don’t provide an opportunity to implement it. Don’t set up a “gotcha” moment, but do tap the recipient of your feedback next time a similar task comes up.

      You could say:

      • “I know you’ll rock it next time.”
      • “I’d love to see you try again.”
      • “Let’s give it another go.”

      Final Thoughts

      Constructive feedback is not an easy nut to crack. If you don’t give it well, then maybe it’s time to get some. Never be afraid to ask.

      More on Constructive Feedback

      Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

      Reference

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