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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

14 Ways Strong-Minded People Think Differently

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14 Ways Strong-Minded People Think Differently

Most of us experience the same fears, regardless of our origin, profession, or our social status. Uncertainty, rejection, and judgment are the things we all wrestle with in life, with no exception. In that way, we are very similar to each other. Yet, what sets strong-minded people apart is how they make decisions to navigate those fears.

The list below explores the distinct ways in which strong-minded people think. On the one hand, it paints a general personality portrait of such people. On the other hand, it also helps to evaluate a specific decision you might have in mind.

A clear disclosure is important, however. If you are reading this, likely you are, for the most part, a strong-minded person. Otherwise you would not have been here!

Overachievers, we can easily get carried away with checking every box and barraging ourselves with criticism, unable to be perfect on all fronts. But this is not a place where you need to check every box at the same time. These are not strict prescriptions, but rather gentle reminders. The list is not a demonstration of who you are not, but rather an invitation for you to embody who you already are. With a comfort of this thought, let us proceed.

1. Strong-Minded People Go First

From starting a simple conversation with a person we like to proposing a new initiative at work, we often prefer somebody else to make the first step. The reason we default to waiting for a green light from the other side is simple – fear of rejection.

Strong-minded people accept the possibility of rejection and welcome the uncertainty that comes with them going first. It is a natural price to pay for not seeking permissions to act in their own interests.

Learning to go first starts with understanding of what imaginary boxes you’ve placed yourself in. Seeking permissions in the areas of personal growth is an example of that box. Perhaps, you do not need a green light to come out because you don’t even have to stay in.

2. Strong-Minded People Experiment

Most of our lives, we prefer playing it safe by taking a path others have already succeeded in multiple times. Education and career are good examples. We prefer to avoid experiments, afraid of irreversible damage the uncertain results that an experiment can bring. Quitting work for self-discovery may sound appealing, but what if we run out of money and won’t be able to get that job back? So we never do it.

Strong-minded people know how to set up an experiment, be that a year-long sabbatical or simply a new sales strategy at work. They understand that doing something differently for the next specified period of time may not bring the expected results but will definitely create experiences that cannot be acquired by any other way. And, if an experiment goes wrong, they are prepared to make a few steps back to reverse it.

Experimenting requires acceptance that the straight upward-sloping life trajectory is a myth. It’s a twisted path whether we want it or not. Instead of mindlessly stumbling through those twists, you might as well create them by experiments, however small they are at the start.

3. Strong-Minded People Appreciate Failures

Through upbringing and education, most of us are strongly conditioned to think that failures are bad. Punished for mistakes at school, we hide them at all costs in our adult lives. A failure, we think, is a judgment of our character. So, after one, we do our best to bounce right back and move on to the next thing.

Strong-minded people are not immune to experiencing pain from failure. They, however, move past the discomfort of being in the same space with negative emotions that decomposing a failure might bring. The lessons of it are too valuable to skip! So they take their time to go through uncomfortable retrospection[1] and only then bounce back, stronger and smarter.

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When you place a failure into a remote mental box to never access it, you are moving on uninformed and prone to making the same mistakes again. Instead, go for a brave stare-down with a failure you’ve tried hard to let go off. What superpowers it offers you? See the unique wisdom behind the uncomfortable emotional facade, and, maybe for the first time, appreciate your failure for that wisdom. Here’re more reasons why you should appreciate failures: 6 Reasons It’s Okay To Fail

4. Strong-Minded People Do Not Chase Immediate Gratification

In today’s fast-paced world, we train ourselves to achieve things fast. When access to people and resources is at our fingertips, we chase immediate gratification, be that receiving a dress from Italy within 24 hours, getting feedback from the team in a different time zone, or accumulating the higher views on a new blog post.

Strong-minded people understand that chasing immediate gratification is a road to a lot of anxiety and disappointment. Wanting things right now feeds inferiority complex, as there’s always somebody who got it faster, bigger, and better.

Deferred gratification, on the other hand, does not facilitate comparisons. It cultivates patience in strong-minded people, regardless whether they are marathoners, who evenly spread their energy, or sprinters, who calmly wait for the time to start running at full speed.

Noticing where you seek immediate gratification allows you to pinpoint the sources of your daily anxiety doze. Limiting how many times you check social media and how often you communicate with people over messengers may be a good place to start fostering patience. Hearing “ding” from devices surrounding you may feel satisfying, but it can be just an illusion of actually getting things done.

5. Strong-Minded People Think in Terms of Opportunities, Not Limitations

Pragmatic people, we have a tendency of finding problems in everything. A self-protection mechanism we’ve developed, it is amazing for as long as it allows us to notice hidden dangers when we go forward. However, more often than not, finding problems simply prevents us from acting altogether.

Strong-minded people think in terms of opportunities, not problems. So, when they embark on something new, they understand that limitations are imminent, but they do not make them a center of their interest. Opportunities, which exist both with limitations and because of limitations, is what drives them forward.

Every time you leave a familiar zone to find new opportunities, notice whether you invent constraints that are not there and focus on limitations as reasons to return back. That’s you traveling with your brakes on! Only by releasing your grip on those brakes can you truly go into uncharted territories where a lot of things become possible.

6. Strong-Minded People Deal with Others in a Flexible Way

When we deal with other people, to establish our importance, we often choose to take an uncompromising position and fight until we are the last one standing. It shows in negotiations, in our team work, and in our relationships. We think it makes us strong, but fail to notice how this desire to always win suffocates us.

Strong-minded people choose to be flexible over immovable when dealing with others. They know that being rigid closes off a lot of opportunities for them. Moreover, being opened to opportunities, they do not think in terms of zero-sum-game, where one has to lose for the other to win. They compromise to seek ways for everyone to improve in the long-term.

Being flexible starts with loosening a grip on the need to always be right, always know it all, always be in control. Think of the times you feel the urge to reach for these weapons. More often than not, you are inflexible not because of the subject of negotiations itself, but because you want to prove that you matter.

Recognize that you do matter, regardless of the outcome of dealing with anyone, – and you are on the way to see more opportunities that being flexible opens.

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7. Strong-Minded People Are Firm on Their Values

Our values are the guideposts for our decisions. But oftentimes, we find ourselves in situations where these values are compromised. It can be a partner, who uses marketing that is borderline deceptive; a client, who disregards our commercial interests by changing terms on the go; a teammate, who guilt-trips us for better preparing for a meeting than he was. Being afraid to lose these people’s respect or trust, we choose to tolerate.

Strong-minded people are flexible in dealing with people, but they are also firm on their values. They know the difference between the two. Strong-minded people are willing to lose a relationship that does not uphold their values. They know that compromising values is a form of self-deception. No matter how enticing an opportunity may seem from the start, without strong values in the foundation, it will inevitably crumble.

Whenever you find yourself enduring a relationship where your values are disregarded, answer yourself whether tolerating it is worth it. Is a brief uncertainty caused by walking away really scarier and more damaging than the resentment that you house inside when you’ve chosen to stay?

8. Strong-Minded People Say “No” to a Lot of Things

Oftentimes, we confuse openness to opportunities with saying “Yes” to as much as possible. We are grabbing whatever is coming our way, just to find ourselves stretched when something we really want shows up. Fear of missing out is powerful!

Strong-minded people prioritize and focus. And that requires saying “No” to a lot of things, while overcoming the scarcity mindset. Instead of operating from a place of fear that a new opportunity might never present itself, strong-minded people trust that a better one will arrive when they are ready.

If you think of life in terms of addition, it’s easy to aim for grabbing as many experiences as possible. That, however, only elevates a distress caused by possibly missing other potentially rewarding experiences. If instead, you think of life as a product (multiplication) of things you do, where everything affects everything else, adding more may suddenly decrease the overall result. Removing something, on the other hand, may improve the overall quality of live. With that mindset, saying “No” becomes much easier.

Leo Babauta has some unique advice on The Gentle Art of Saying No.

9. Strong-Minded People Are Excited About Everything They Undertake

Whenever something good happens to us, we are used to telling ourselves “Don’t get too excited.” As if excitement makes it somehow vulnerable to an imminent threat. In a fear that something bad is bound to kill our joy, we reserve elevated emotional states to rare occasions only.

Strong-minded people use excitement as a general attitude towards everything they do. It becomes a source of energy to turn a daily routine into an experiment.

Excitement is natural, because, while saying “No” to a lot of stuff, only exciting things get to stay. And it is not about faking joy for others. For strong-minded people, excitement is an expression of their true authentic selves.

Instead of the usual mantra “Don’t get too excited!”, try telling yourself the opposite next time. This enthusiasm will not only let you appreciate more what you already enjoy, it may also help you turn an otherwise dull day into an exciting adventure.

10. Strong-Minded People Do Things with Purpose

In the current culture, we cultivate busyness as an indicator of our importance. No other complaint gets more understanding in a group of overachievers than “I am so busy these days!” No wonder, we have an urge to fill up our schedules just to feel like we are not missing a beat. And we rarely question the purpose of what we do.

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Strong-minded people put the purpose of an activity above the need to be busy. They understand that the continuous movement between tasks may give a false sense of progress. What may seem like an advancement is really a meaningless gyration in an attempt to silence uncomfortable thoughts and sense of no direction.

Strong-minded people do not use busyness as a remedy for self-doubt. There is a purpose, rooted in their values behind every action, or even inaction they choose.

Whenever you feel the urge to be busy, question the reason behind it. A full calendar is a poor indicator of your worth. While a day with one thing that gives it a meaning, is definitely worth your while.

11. Strong-Minded People Don’t Need to Prove

The need to prove is one the most powerful motivational drivers out there. It touches a lot of aspects of our lives: from how we select our careers to how we present ourselves in social media. The problem is that it makes us easily manipulable. Challenge us with “Do you have what it takes?”, and we will run to there full speed just to prove that we are capable, deserving, and relevant.

Strong-minded people do not chase a goal just for the sake of proving.[2] They are not concerned with other people’s opinions of them. And though wanting to be seen in a good light is a natural desire, “proving them wrong” is an outcome, not a goal, for a strong-minded person.

Next time your need to be acknowledged makes you jump through hoops just to show others what you can, recognize that other’s opinion of you is not who you really are. Forget who you need to prove wrong, and remember that you are already enough.

12. Strong-Minded People Allow Themselves to Be Different

Through our life, we are strongly incentivized to fit in. In school, this is how we make friends. At companies, this is how we gain positions. Fitting in helps us connect. Our uniquenesses, on the other hand, are what get fingers pointed at us. So we learn to hide them.

Strong-minded people are comfortable with being different. They do not hide, justify, or make up believable stories to explain the uniquenesses away. They simply embody them.

Free of the need to prove, strong-minded people do not look at the differences as an obstacle to their progress; they use them as a source to create their own path.

Allowing yourself to be different does not require shaving your head bald and protesting topless on the main square of your town (unless that’s what you want!) It rather requires a level of self-awareness to know how your unique background translates into your superpowers. Leaning to connect with others applying those superpowers, you may discover that, to find a place you belong, you do not really need to fit in.

13. Strong-Minded People Listen and Ask Questions

Anywhere we go, we like to bring a know-it-all personality with us. It boosts our ego and helps us feel superior to others. We cannot wait to show off our sophistication and politely skip the topics we know nothing about. We’d rather spend hours figuring things out, than look weak not having anything to contribute.

Strong-minded people are okay with not being an expert in everything. They listen to understand, not to respond. In their mind, trying to know it all is fighting a fight they cannot win. So, instead of feeling inferior, they ask good questions and gather the information. A question for them is not a sign of weakness but rather a tool they feed their curiosity with.

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Next time you feel like moving a conversation to a topic that allows you to shine, simply try to stay and listen. Instead of reminding yourself of what you are lacking, appreciate the opportunity to learn something new right there and then.

14. Strong-Minded People Are Honest with Themselves

With the speed of life today, taking time to reflect on our feelings is a prohibitive luxury. Because we are so busy, hiding our emotions becomes a way to optimize our performance. We’d rather suppress our feelings inside to continue “business as usual” than allow something we are not prepared to deal with to come out.

Strong-minded people do not ignore their feelings in an attempt to make themselves appear more resilient. Just the opposite, vulnerability can be the great power for them.

Strong-minded people listen to others, and they also listen to themselves. They spend time analyzing their emotions and cultivating self-acceptance. Self-awareness is a big component of their intelligence.

Whenever you feel like suppressing a feeling as an unnecessary distraction, inquire into a source of this feeling. Only when you really know your weaknesses, you can bet on your strengths. Only when you understand your fears, you will know how to be brave.

Final Thoughts

Aside from small daily practices you can do whenever you wish, there are plenty of resources available to facilitate a strong-minded approach to decision-making.

Need an inspiration about experimenting with the lifestyle design? Dive into the work of Tim Ferris!

Feel like you need to examine your daily decisions and overcome a scarcity mindset? Check out the blog of Khe Hy.

Want to eavesdrop how today’s leaders work through their fears? Listen to the thought-provoking Reboot Podcast .

The good news is, being strong-minded is not about faking it or making sacrifices that no one is going to appreciate. It is also not a quality that you have to be born with.

Being strong-minded is about the attitude you can choose to have towards anything in life, small or large. And choosing that attitude can only be achieved by being able to listen to yourself and having the courage to interact with the world from the position of who you really are.

More Tips for Becoming Mentally Stronger

Featured photo credit: Adrien King via unsplash.com

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Reference

More by this author

Oxana Kunets

Explorer of all things meaningful living, confidence, and courage

14 Ways Strong-Minded People Think Differently How to Turn a Bad Attitude into a Positive One How to Answer the Interview Question “What Motivates You?” 7 Reminders on Building Strong Family Relationships

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Published on October 14, 2021

How to Silence the Impostor Syndrome

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How to Silence the Impostor Syndrome

Do you ever worry about being exposed as a “fraud?” You’re not alone. It’s actually quite common for people to feel like imposters. In fact, approximately 70 percent of people admit to having experienced impostor syndrome[1] at some point in their lives — a Twitter poll found that 87 percent of people have experienced this.[2] Even successful and famous people like Tom Hanks, Howard Schultz, and Natalie Portman suffer from imposter syndrome.

But, what exactly is imposter syndrome. And, more importantly, how can you silence it?

Originally coined in 1978 by psychologists Pauline Rose Clance, Ph.D., ABPP, and Suzanne Imes, Ph.D., the term “impostor syndrome” describes symptoms that include being unable to internalize accomplishments and being afraid of being exposed as a fraud.

The individual may also be plagued by chronic self-doubt and believe that they’re unqualified for success despite evidence to the contrary. Inadequacies, fears of failure, and disbelief that success is a matter of luck or timing are also common.

If you don’t address this phenomenon, feeling like an impostor can prevent you from achieving ambitious goals. Moreover, those experiencing these feelings tend to over-prepare or procrastinate — which obviously hinders productivity and reaching goals. And, as if that weren’t bad enough, imposter syndrome prevents you from pursuing new challenges and opportunities.

Do you feel like you’re suffering from impostor syndrome? If so, don’t beat yourself up. After all, there are effective ways to overcome these feelings in a healthy and proactive way.

1. Don’t Hide It.

“Firstly, acknowledge it,” advises Claudine Robson,[3] the Intentional Coach. “You give strength to imposter syndrome by letting it continue to peck away at your confidence unchecked.” It can only be banished if you acknowledge it as soon as possible and break the silence.

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“Then you need to separate your feelings from facts,” Robson adds. “One thing imposter syndrome does very effectively is to mix up your perceptions of reality.”

If you can, take a step back and look at the situation objectively. “Recognize when you should — and when you should not — feel fraudulent,” she says. Appreciate and acknowledge the task, intellect, and insight that have led to your success.

You might even be able to take action by recognizing that the reason you feel fraudulent is that you’re new to a task. “That gives you a path forward; learning is growth, don’t deny yourself that.”

2. Implement the STOP Technique

In her book Cognitive Enlightenment, Melinda Fouts, Ph.D., outlines a technique to overcome imposter syndrome using what she calls the STOP technique.

“STOP is an acronym for ‘silence the oppressive player,” Fouts explains in Forbes.[4] “You need to eradicate this tape that is playing 24/7, whether you are conscious of it or not. It plays loudest when we are tired, hungry, or feeling defeated.”

Steps to implementing the STOP technique and rewiring your brain are as follows:

To replace the tape of not good enough, you need a “launch sentence.” “I’m more than good enough” would is an example of a solid launch statement.

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Put your launch sentence in prominent locations, such as your car’s dashboard or computer. How come? The reason is that as the tape plays, you won’t be able to remember your launch statement.

Continue to say “stop” until you recall your launch sentence, says Fouts.

Put your launch sentence into your own words and pontificate.

While going about your daily tasks, like while driving or exercising, practice your launch sentence so you can recall it when you need it in the future.

“I am told this sounds simple and it does,” she adds. However, this technique is challenging when your negative tape is playing. You will not want to replace the tape every day while your brain is rewiring itself. “It is these moments you can’t give up.”

3. Distinguish Humility and Fear

When it comes to hard work and accomplishments, there’s humility, and then there’s fear. In other words, having a high level of competence can lead one to discount its value occasionally. However, as Carl Richards wrote in an article for the New York Times,[5] “After spending a lot of time fine-tuning our ability, isn’t it sort of the point for our skill to look and feel natural?”

The problem is that we feel unworthy from time to time. But, as Seth Godin explained in a blog post,[6] “When you feel unworthy, any kind response, positive feedback or reward feels like a trick, a scam, the luck of the draw.”

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Feeling worthy without feeling entitled is possible. And, finding the right balance between them is critical for overcoming impostor syndrome. “Humility and worthiness have nothing at all to do with defending our territory,” Godin continues. “We don’t have to feel like a fraud to also be gracious, open, or humble.”

4. Keep a “Brag Sheet”

When you were sending out college applications, did you build yourself a “brag sheet?” If not, here’s a clean description from Shawna Newman,[7] “A brag sheet is very similar to a student resume – it highlights your accomplishments, key experiences, leadership skills, and employment throughout your secondary education.” In short, “it’s a quick reference guide with all the details and achievements for someone trying to get to know you better.”

While it may be awkward at first, you can apply the same concept when coping with imposter syndrome. Just compose a list of your accomplishments, activities, skills. That’s it. Just remember Godin’s advice and also be humble and gracious.

As an added perk, besides being an effective way to talk myself up, I’ve also found that this has helped me stop comparing myself to others. Instead of harping about other people’s milestones, I’m honing in on what I’ve done.

5. Celebrate Wins, Period

Speaking of accomplishments, they shouldn’t be categorized as small or big. After all, you feel as if you don’t belong when you have imposter syndrome. So, the more you celebrate your wins, the more confident you’ll become.

Furthermore, accept compliments without qualifying them and practice listening to praise every day. Finally, become kinder to yourself by saying at least one kind thing to yourself daily. And, give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back.

6. Assemble a Legion of Superheroes

“You know how corporations have a board of directors to — in theory — make them stronger, maintain checks and balances, leverage resources, and help advance the organization’s vision?” asks inspirational speaker, speaking coach, and creative consultant Tania Katan.[8] “Why not assemble your own board of directors to leverage resources to help make your career stronger, keep you in check and balanced, and advance your vision?”

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“My friend Alison Wade, president of conferences, training, and consulting at Techwell, calls her personal board of directors her “front-row” — those are the people she invites to sit spitting distance from the stage, cheer her on, challenge her, and review her performance,” Katan writes.

As for Katan, she calls hers a “legion of superheroes.” The reason? “I dig the idea of joining forces to do good in the corporate galaxy.”

It’s important to have a diverse group of individuals who will defend you. Ideally, they should be varied in all dimensions, such as cultural background, way of thinking, and skills.

Katan recommends that you meet together frequently, whether if that’s once a week or every quarter. “Share your experiences, fears, creative ideas, aspirations,” she adds. “Celebrate each other’s accomplishments.” You also need to both support and challenge each other. “Discover what you are capable of doing when you combine your powers.”

7. Visualize Success

Follow the example of a professional athlete by imagining yourself crushing that presentation or project. You’ll enjoy the relief from performance-related stress. And, more importantly, it can help you avoid focusing on the worst-case scenario.

Final Words of Advice

While there’s no single formula to cure imposter syndrome, the tips listed above are a start. After all, your success depends on your ability to fight the negative effects of it. For example, feeling unworthy over time can lead to crippling anxiety and depression if left untreated.

If you’ve tried the above, then make sure that you speak to someone about what you’re experiencing, whether it’s a mentor, peer group, or licensed professional. And, above all else, there’s a place at the table for everyone — no matter what your inner voice is telling you.

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How to Silence the Impostor Syndrome was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.

Featured photo credit: Laurenz Kleinheider via unsplash.com

Reference

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