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Published on July 16, 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

How to Answer the Interview Question “What Motivates You?” 14 Ways Strong-Minded People Think Differently

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Last Updated on August 19, 2019

5 Steps to Cultivate a Positive Mental Attitude

5 Steps to Cultivate a Positive Mental Attitude

Cultivating a positive mental attitude starts with a realization — a realization that you’re not the only one who has struggled, who has survived, and who has started over again. You are not alone, and there is a way through the darkness. There is simple wisdom, which can be relied upon, to help.

Find support, but also learn self-care in how you treat yourself which is what positivity is all about. That self talk, that perception, that attitude you choose changes you and changes those around you.

According to New Stanford Study: A Positive Attitude Literally Makes Your Brain Better by Jessica Stillman,[1] Stanford researchers studies how the brain was impacted in achievement and learning when one felt or was positive about a subject. The result? Outcomes were much more favorable for that student.

We do well in areas we are positive about. But what if we can choose to be positive about, well, anything? That would change everything.

Positivity is not about just being happy, which is often the misconception. In fact, acknowledging a range of emotions is healthy. Positivity is persistence while using positive thinking strategies. It is sitting with your feelings; it is acceptance of what is; it is holding onto what makes you happy; it is purpose found in pain.

And the reasoning behind choosing to be positive — you get what you give. You receive what you believe.

Here’re 5 steps to cultivate a positive mental attitude. In part, they detail why it’s important to be positive as an understanding assists in the pursuit as much as the adoption of the mindset.

1. Attitude is What We Can Change

There’s a Maya Angelou quote that goes:

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

When you choose positivity as your attitude, you select an attitude far more destined for resilient behavior than the alternative.

When you have a negative attitude, your brain gives itself permission to develop negative thinking patterns and in turn, difficult and dark emotions. You spend all your days ruminating, or worrying about the same thing over and over again, thinking that will solve it. Doing this will cause you to miss the answers rather than make the most of the moments in front of you.

In actuality, the first thing you need to do is calm yourself. It feels counterintuitive, but that means to release your troubled mentality. When you release what is bothering you, you choose a safer attitude. One that helps you to accept your emotions, accept what is happening and accept that you don’t have all the answers. You’re less afraid of that fact.

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Attitude is everything. It’s how we heal ourselves. It’s how we stay positive. It’s how we secure things. It’s how we overcome.

Without a positive attitude, we cannot persevere. Perseverance is the point of positivity.

A positive attitude is how we fuel willpower. Willpower is how we fuel positivity. It goes in a circle. They are interchangeable.

Positivity denotes willpower. You can be standing in a storm and feel completely calm when you use positivity. You stay grounded. You stand firm. You do not fall over. And you know what? Even if you do, you get back up again.

There is a Japanese proverb, “Nana korobi ya oki” which means fall seven times, get up eight. This means you do not stop; you keep going. You make it through the hard times to find the good.

A positive attitude is about understanding you have power over your problems. Once you understand that, you can change your attitude. You have to choose positive thinking first in order to reap its benefits. Once you’ve chosen to be positive, you can do anything.

2. Positivity Is Your Unique Power

When you have lost it all, a positive attitude can help you regain it or to regain your strength. It’s the best way to live. It’s the best way to learn from life and love. When you are positive, you have a power that circumstance nor others cannot take from you.

Recognizing the power you have to carry on, to make the best of things, to keep going when everything inside you wants to quit is worth everything.

You can’t always have it all, but you can always have a positive attitude. This in itself helps you stand out, helps you to shine. It’s enough to save yourself (and others potentially) with. That power keeps you grounded and safe.

For example, say you lost someone to a disease. Instead of just thinking about the loss and seeing it as the end, a positive person may decide to contribute to a cause dedicated to that disease. In doing so, the positive person becomes a beacon of hope. They become a voice for something which in turn gives them power over their hardship.

This is how people keep going: Meaning. Meaning creates a power over our emotions, over our loss so that they do not define us.

According to the Mayo Clinic, positivity affects one’s stress levels and overall health.[2] It is that powerful. When you are positive about a situation, you are less stressful and more calm and able to reason better to solve the very problem in front of you.

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Cultivating this power is about realizing a sense of meaning can be derived from all circumstances, even senseless tragedies. People often contribute to something greater than themselves when they are searching for meaning, for purpose, for positivity, for power.

You don’t always have to have a reason for why something happens, but you can use whatever happens for a greater cause. It’s subjective, changing from person to person. That’s why no matter how much you want to derive meaning from an event, there are no outright answers about how to do that.

So, what do you do? Meditate. Listen.

“Whatever purifies you is the right path, I will not try to define it. Let go of your mind then be mindful. Close your ears and listen.” — Rumi

3. Be Absolutely Present

In life, you have control over your ability to be present in the moment, even if not control over everything. You have the moment.

Positivity is telling yourself that this moment is what matters. You can’t regret the past or see the future. The only way to be positive is to be here. What do you have right in front of you? Suddenly, your life shifts to gratitude.

Gratitude serves us in letting go of what we do not need. Listing what makes us happy is one way to stay present. What do you have right now that you can use? You have the tools to be positive.

Some techniques to getting there are through meditations or mantras. For example, “Nothing bad is happening right now” is an easy one to incorporate. Your past traumas can’t trip you when you ground yourself in the present, and your ability to reason further develops to the point that even if you can’t see the future, you know it will play out like this– with you empowered and in the moment, using all your wisdom and tools and positivity to persevere. That’s all you need.

Focus on the moment. In a blog about Mindfulness, Courtney Ackerman writes that one such exercise is to live in the moment to reduce worrying.[3] Think about the past and future in small, manageable doses. But focus mostly on the present, what is happening right here and now. This will reduce worrying and therefore stress as well as other negative emotions significantly.

This will allow you to be positive.

4. Practice Self-Love

Self-talk is the core of self-love, the core of what positivity is all about. Positive self-talk leads to self-love. And when our own cup is empty, we can pour into another’s. We have to help ourselves first before we can help others.

What we say to ourselves is how we practice positivity or put it into action.

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For example, there’s a children’s book called The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper where the train thinks, “I think I can, I think I can” the whole way through its travels. The result? It could because it told itself that it can.

Such a simple concept for a complex world. And yet, it works.

This is also how self-love works. What you tell yourself is powerful and makes its mark. Here are examples of things you could tell yourself to practice positivity:

  • I am enough.
  • I am worthwhile.
  • I can do this, I just have to hold on.
  • I will make it through this.
  • I am powerful.
  • I am unstoppable.

Here’re more examples for you: 10 Positive Affirmations for Success that will Change your Life. Add to this list with your own!

When you write these positive mantras, you start to feel them. If you write “I am positive about this situation” enough times, you will start to feel that positivity seep in.

Loving yourself is not going to be easy nor come overnight. There will be a mess of feelings, regrets, negative self talk and more that you will have to carefully tip toe through to hold your own heart. Your heart needs love, and often, we deny what it needs in pursuit of purposeless pleasures such as external rewards rather than internal motivation for a life well lived. We live for what others think of us, say about us, and sometimes, losing it all or going through hardship can teach us what we really need: ourselves.

Loving yourself needs to come from an authentic place, not a “fake it til you make it” mentality. It needs to be real. It needs to include those flaws and all. That’s all you can do to become positive about yourself. You have to start within and do the work necessary to heal and be healthy.

Take a look at these 30 Self Care Habits for a Strong and Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit and try to practice them.

5. Avoid Toxic Positivity (Unhealthy Positivity)

Avoid the white knuckling type of positivity where you don’t acknowledge your struggles or pain (as they also serve you). You don’t just want to tell yourself to move on because that equates to repression.

Emotions are part of positivity. You want to sit with your feelings. You want to acknowledge them, give them a voice. Instead of telling yourself to move on, you let your emotions lead to a breakthrough that helps you cope with the changes of life.

The greatest misconceptions made about being positive is assuming one does not have to feel in order to change. Throwing away hurt, anger, grief, sadness, all those emotions we associate with being “negative” only thwart our growth and power. Positivity is USING these things to better yourself or the world around you because you’re not going to give in to them. They do not become you or your identity.

You don’t have to be the white knuckling soldier you’ve always been. You say your emotions, then follow up with a use or outlet for them. That makes your positivity profound.

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Positivity is not about wearing a mask; it is the opposite of a mask. It is freedom from negative thinking strategies such as jumping to conclusions, black or white thinking, worst case scenario assumptions and more. It’s acknowledging that there may be more strength or ability in you than previously assumed. And it’s worth it to find out.

Toxic positivity may suggest you simply put a smile on and act fine. That’s not real positivity. Healthy positivity is about showing up when you’re tired; loving when you are feeling loss; healing when you want to cling to your hurt. It’s realization that you are worth it, not worth writing off. And you care about the outcome, so you stay to sort it out. You don’t abandon or jump ship. You hold on. That’s healthy positivity.

So that one day you may say to others, “I see you. I feel you. I understand you,” because you have been where they are and got through it. It’s acknowledging the dark as much as the light.

It’s living so others may live; it’s all you need. It’s not an exact formula everyone can replicate, and no one can copy you either. Your story is important. You are meant to be here. You are meant to do well. It will be those thoughts that get you to the finish line. Thriving.

Final Thoughts

In every moment, you’re not going to want to be positive. There will be times when you want to throw in the towel. But even then, choosing your attitude, recognizing the power of positivity, being absolutely present, practicing self-love and avoiding toxic or unhealthy positivity will better your days and assist through your trials.

Being positive isn’t easy, but it’s worth it to see what is going to happen next. Just around the corner may be the change you need, but you’ll never know if you don’t hold on to find out.

Positivity is about being curious enough to stay for the outcome because you simply believe, hold onto and trust in yourself and some goodness in this world. That’s enough to keep one going, and enough to help them go from surviving to thriving which is where you want to be.

Everyone has low moments. There’s nothing to be ashamed of for that. You can feel negative emotions though without shaming yourself for them by practicing healthy positivity. These steps are how to cultivate a positive mental attitude.

That way you don’t live with regret. You live in the moment. You make the decision how.

You can start at anytime. Positivity can be like a switch of perception. Once you uplift yourself, there’s nothing you can’t accomplish. And soon, you’ll be onto uplifting others which helps even more.

Positivity is contagious. It spreads like sunlight over the darkness. You can be the source of that sunlight. All you have to do is simple: Believe you can.

Good luck!

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Featured photo credit: Court Prather via unsplash.com

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