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Last Updated on October 23, 2019

14 Ways Strong-Minded People Think Differently

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.

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Featured photo credit: Adrien King via unsplash.com

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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?”

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Last Updated on October 23, 2019

How to Change a Negative Attitude That Is Destroying You

How to Change a Negative Attitude That Is Destroying You

A negative attitude carries with it a lack of awareness. You’re not necessarily aware of a negative attitude permeating your outlook on life, and because of this lack of awareness, your attitude affects your interactions with other people and your interactions with yourself.

What if you were to become aware? What if, suddenly, you were able to step outside of the thought pattern that creates your attitude, choose a new pattern, and thus, a new attitude?

Think about your thoughts. Many sources of advice aren’t going to tell you this crucial point:

Changing your attitude is not about stifling or eliminating negative thoughts. It’s about changing your thought patterns through action.

Negative thoughts will arise, but when you brood on them it’s like feeding and rewarding them so that they will come back again and form a pattern.

When you alter repetitive thought patterns, you alter your attitude — it’s a physical process, and with it comes the ability to change the world in which you live. You’ll achieve things you didn’t think were possible before.

To undertake this change, understand what to do with negative or unhelpful thoughts when they arise. This understanding will help you take action towards changing your attitude.

Read on for some quick and easy suggestions on how to change a negative attitude.

1. Harness the Incredible Power of Redirection

Oftentimes, we think in a black-and-white, limiting way. It’s called binary thinking. Even thinking of thoughts as only negative or positive is a binary way of thinking.

You develop a negative attitude because you are convinced this binary way of thinking is an accurate reflection of reality. When this way of thinking doesn’t achieve good results, you assign blame. Blame doesn’t help solve the problem of binary thinking — it perpetuates it.

Binary thinking causes you to have tunnel vision when you’re working on your goals. You feel one approach is the right one — but research shows that redirection improves creativity.[1] Redirection requires you to think differently by changing tasks.

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Take a step back from what you’re doing. Is there a different approach you can take? Who can you reach out to for help? What haven’t you tried? Redirect your actions and you’ll find yourself thinking more creatively and positively when it comes to solving the original problem.

2. Amp up Your Positive Self-Talk

Positive self-talk is exactly what it sounds like: these are uplifting statements you make to yourself. Then, you act on them.

The thing about positive self-talk is it’s self-fulfilling. In other words, by concentrating on your strengths and making positive statements about yourself, you become what you tell yourself you are and your attitude changes.

Psychologist Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker identifies key statements that mentally healthy people make:[2]

  • “I am lovable”
  • “I am capable”
  • “Most other people are lovable and capable, too”
  • “Success comes from doing”
  • “Challenges are opportunities”
  • “It’s only human to make mistakes”
  • “I have what it takes to cope with change — and to make changes happen”

Tell yourself these things every day. Note statement number 4, “Success comes from doing.” You want to change your negative attitude. To successfully change your attitude, do things that help you feel good about yourself and others. Volunteer work and community sports leagues are great options.

Action creates change. Make positive statements to yourself, take action based on these statements, and your outlook on life will change.

3. Be a Change Agent, Not a Victim

An agent is someone who is actively engaged in making something happen. A victim is someone who suffers from circumstances beyond their control.

Victimization is valid and real, but if there’s no active pursuit of a solution, you remain a victim — you remain passive, and your attitude is one of bitterness, helplessness, or cynicism.

You’re an agent who can change your own attitude. Ultimately, your own actions are the only things you control.

You may not be able to control the rise of negative thoughts due to a tragedy that was beyond your control, but you can control how you respond to those thoughts.

Consider the following methods of coping with tragedies:[3]

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  • Talk with a counselor or someone who can give you an outside perspective.
  • Turn off the news, stop wallowing, and get active. Activities such as exercise, art, and games will help you process your feelings better by giving you a break from concentrating on repetitive negative thoughts.
  • Offer your support to others who have had a similar experience. If, for example, you’re recovering from addiction, find a peer support group.
  • Redirect painful emotions by finding an activity, such as volunteer work, writing, music, or sports, that is emotionally fulfilling and allows you to release pent-up emotions.

Sometimes tragedy is self-inflicted, meaning you have a bad experience that’s not necessarily a tragedy, but you treat it as such. You get down on yourself, turn to drugs and alcohol, and brood over your negative thoughts and feelings.

Be sure to recognize if this is happening, and become an agent of recovery instead of victimization.

4. Dream Huge — but Set Realistic Expectations

This is the truth about your dream: it’s real. What you really want out of life — call it your dream or fantasy or ambition — is a real idea you can and should hold onto no matter what happens.

To set realistic expectations, break your dream down into steps that are achievable in the short-term.

If you believe you’re entitled — you expect everything to fall into place — you will not realize your dream. Even if you’re lucky and successful, it won’t feel like success because entitlement is a bottomless pit.

A negative attitude stems from expectations that don’t line up with reality. Again, your actions are the only thing you control. Science shows you’re not even necessarily in control of your thoughts.[4]

But you are in control of the thoughts you choose to dwell on. Concentrate on your plans. You can expect to follow through when you concentrate on and check off the steps to completing a task. Concentrate on the tasks you need to complete in order to make your dream a reality.

5. Transform Negative Thoughts into Ultimate Questions

Asking questions opens your mind to new ideas. It helps you begin to build confidence. Positive self-talk can be tough, because your mind is like a broken record. You tell yourself you’re lovable, but for every time you say that, the thought that no one loves you pops up 10 times.

Forbes’ Melody Wilding makes a great recommendation:[5]

“When you catch your inner critic flinging accusations, think: how can I turn this statement into a question?”

Here are some examples:

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  • Instead of, “Something must be wrong with me,” say, “What are the steps to success?”
  • Instead of, “I hate going to the grocery store,” say, “How can I save time at the grocery store?”
  • Instead of, “These people are annoying,” say, “How can I talk to these people so that this meeting is enjoyable?”
  • Instead of, “I was a complete idiot last night,” say, “What can I do differently in the future?”

This way, you’re opening possibilities for new, constructive thoughts. You’re also paying attention to your thoughts and doing something with them.

6. Laugh!

“It is impossible for you to be angry and laugh at the same time. Anger and laughter are mutually exclusive and you have the power to choose either.” – Wayne Dyer

In almost all cases, you’ll develop a negative attitude if you choose to be angry and depressed instead of choosing to laugh. But how can you choose to laugh when something seems downright terrible?

This is where the imagination and mental exercise kick in. Choose to look at a disappointing or disheartening circumstance in a different way. What is it that’s ironic, absurd, or outrageous about the circumstance?

Is there an opposite circumstance you can imagine, one that’s so fantastically great it brings tears of laughter to your eyes just thinking about it? Are there any details that are just flat-out strange?

If you’re depressed, choose comedy — choose something that can bring a smile to your face. Train yourself to seek good opportunities for humour, and you’re training yourself to have a positive attitude.

7. Embrace Your Emotions and Release Them Confidently

The moment you experience an emotion, there’s a reason for it; and therefore it’s valid.

Here’s the challenge: you must control what you do with that emotion.

You could hold the emotion in and let it fester, but that leads to things like depression, pent-up rage, and low self-esteem.

You could release your emotion the moment you feel it without thinking, but that leads to relationship issues with other people. Or, you could release the emotion confidently in a way that asserts your self and your boundaries.

  • Practice observing your emotions when you feel them on a daily basis. Note what the emotion is and be there with it.
  • When you experience a strong emotion such as anger, take time to note your anger, take deep breaths, and calm down.
  • Figure out what or who caused your anger, and why.
  • Assert yourself. Don’t be mean about it, be confident. Say something like, “I would prefer for you to treat everyone as equals in the group, I can’t speak for everyone in the group, but it’s very important to me.”
  • Set your boundaries by repeating “I” statements, such as, “I don’t want you to yell at me, I feel uncomfortable. If there’s a problem, I would prefer to talk about it calmly.”

If you embrace your emotions by processing them — by asking who, what, why, and how — and then you deal with them by expressing yourself confidently, your attitude will remain one of confidence, calmness, and positivity.

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8. Create, Move, Believe, Contemplate Great Things

Once you know you are in control of how you react to thoughts and emotions, and in turn your actions create a pattern that reinforces itself, a huge world of greatness is there for you.

Greatness is there because at all times you can choose it. You can choose to listen to your deepest emotions, which are a thing of beauty because of their intense purity, and you can translate them into new things. New songs, poems, sayings, artworks, running routes, exercise routines, meals, friendships, jobs — it’s all there for you.

Each negative thought is a positive response waiting to happen. Feel how your positive responses and your positive attitude are so enjoyable you wouldn’t trade them for anything else. Believe that you are amazing and your actions will have amazing results — even if you are not around to see the results bloom and flower.

Contemplate great things because they’re the greatest things to contemplate. What if your decision to appreciate other people’s little quirks someday becomes love? What if your decision to write in your diary everyday someday becomes a memoir? You’re capable of all these things, and life can be great.

9. Leave with the Four Agreements — but Agree to Come Back Again and Again

A man named Don Miguel Ruiz wrote a book called The Four Agreements. With these agreements, Ruiz distills pearls of ancient Toltec wisdom. To transform your attitude, agree to do the following:

  • Don’t make assumptions
  • Don’t take anything personally
  • Be impeccable with your word
  • Do your best

That’s it. Think about how these agreements inform your actions.

If you are doing your best, you are in the moment.

If you are impeccable with your word, you say things that reflect on the world you want to create.

If you don’t take anything personally, you don’t get offended by other people’s words and actions, so you don’t lash out at them.

If you don’t make assumptions, you have realistic expectations.

Furthermore, check out these other tips on how to change your attitude. Return to advice that helps you again and again. With an attitude that says, “I’m always learning,” you’ll do just that, and your life will keep improving.

Featured photo credit: Carolina Heza via unsplash.com

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