Would you say that you are a mentally strong person? Would you describe yourself as a person who is free of self-pity, bitterness or regret?Mental strength is not about hiding your emotions,  it is about being aware of your feelings and managing them properly. If you learn to balance your emotions and thoughts, you will make good decisions and you will have peace of mind.In this book, author and therapist Amy Morin gives practical advice based on real clients and inspirational true stories to help readers become mentally strong.

They Don’t Waste Time Feeling Sorry For Themselves

When Jack was in elementary school, he suffered two broken legs due to a school bus accident. He was expected to make a full recovery, but would need the use a wheelchair for a few months. However, Jack’s mother had deep fears that her son would never walk again.While the doctors said Jack could return to school with the aid of the wheelchair, his mother insisted that he remain home. She assumed that being near school buses – even at school – would be traumatizing for the young boy.She also feared that Jack would be sad because he could not run and play with his friends.And so, Jack stayed home.He studied in the mornings, and then watched TV or played video games for the rest of the day. After a few weeks, his mother noticed that Jack had changed; he was no longer a happy and active child.
Jack’s mother brought him to the therapist, Amy Morin, because she believed that the accident had caused this change in his personality. But, Morin had a different approach: she treated Jack as a normal and healthy child.She even encouraged him to write a book entitled “How to Beat a School Bus”.  Jack loved this exercise – he drew himself as a superhero and wrote that he survived the accident because he is so strong.The therapist explained to Jack’s mother that she doesn’t need to feel sorry for her son because he is alive. He just broke a few bones. She encouraged his mother to treat Jack like a physically and mentally strong kid who can overcome any challenge. With this realization, Jack’s mother allowed him to return to school and he became a happy child once again.Do you ever feel sorry for yourself? Can you think of a recent event that made you feel self-pity? Remember, sometimes misery is not caused by the actual event, but by your reaction.
If you think that you are unlucky, worthless, or you don’t deserve to be happy, then you are only making your situation worse. Self-pity wastes your time and energy. You only feel more negative, and you attract more negative things to happen to you.Here is what you should do instead: be physically active. Even if you do not feel like it, force yourself to get up, take a shower, clean the house or go for a walk. Physical activity will take your mind off of the negative emotions. You will only feel worse if you keep lying around all day.Be positive. There might be things you’re missing because you focus only on the negative. Appreciate what you have. Be thankful that you are alive, that your family is safe or that there is food on your plate. Your situation is not as bad as it seems.
Change your perspective. What if your friend or a family member experienced the same situation as you? What advice would you give? Would you let them dwell on self-pity? Think also of all the times that you encountered a difficult problem. You made your way out in the past: you can definitely do it again.Try doing a random act of kindness. Do something good for someone else today. You will see that life has more meaning. 

They Don’t Focus On Things They Can’t Control

James and his wife got divorced and fought over custody of their daughter for three years. Finally, the judge ruled that the little girl would live with her mother and James could visit on the weekends.James was convinced that he was a better parent than his ex-wife and that she was intentionally destroying his relationship with his daughter. For example, James made plans to take his daughter whale-watching over the weekend, but his ex-wife beat him to it, taking her to see the whales earlier in the same week.James felt like he was competing for his daughter’s affection against his ex-wife. She was always buying the child expensive gifts, throwing big parties and taking her on grand vacations – things James could not afford.
Initially, James asked Morin not for therapy, but for legal support. He asked Morin to testify in court to help him to receive full-custody of his daughter. However, the author refused.Morin helped James to realize that his attempts to control the situation were not good for his daughter.James should focus instead on building a good relationship with his daughter and make the best of their time with together.Have you ever been in this situation? Did you try desperately to control a circumstance? Did you feel angrier and frustrated, and that it a waste of your time and energy?Accept the things that are out of your control and focus on those things which you can change. If you change your behaviour, then you can also change your circumstances.
Take for example, Terry Fox. He was diagnosed with a rare kind of bone cancer. His leg was amputated, and he underwent chemotherapy for sixteen months. Terry read about a man who joined marathons with a prosthetic leg, and he decided to do the same.Terry finished last in the race, but many people still cheered for him. After that, he thought of starting a fundraiser:
Terry would run across Canada by finishing one marathon a day. He aimed to raise $24 million for other cancer patients like him.People heard of Terry’s cause and they supported him; crowds waited for him to arrive at their town. In total, Terry ran for 143 days. Terry was featured on TV and more people donated to his cause, and at last he reached his fundraising goal.Unfortunately, Terry Fox died of cancer, but his legacy continues to this very day: the Terry Fox Run is a yearly event that raises money for cancer patients worldwide.

They Don’t Worry About Pleasing Everyone

Megan came to therapy because she was stressed. She told Morin that she was overwhelmed Megan, a 35-year-old, wife and mother to two small children also works part time and volunteers regularly with Sunday School and Girl Scouts.The therapist recognized Megan as a type of person who could not say ‘no’.  She said ‘yes’ to her church members whenever they asked her to bake cupcakes; she said ‘yes’ to driving other Girl Scouts home. Megan also said ‘yes’ to her sister whenever she asked for help with babysitting.Megan admitted that sometimes she couldn’t come home in time for dinner or bedtime. She was too busy doing favours for other people that she neglected the needs of her own family.
Slowly, Megan learned that she cannot please everyone. Morin helped her to learn how to say ‘no’. Megan learned that she does not need to explain or give an excuse, just a simple “No. Sorry, I can’t.” is enough.Now, Megan has more time with her family and she does not feel overwhelmed.Do you also find it difficult to say no? Maybe you are uncomfortable with conflict or perhaps you fear others will not like you if you say no. Remember, that in saying ‘yes’ to everyone you could lose your grip on your own values.You can learn from the story of Craigslist’s CEO Jim Buckmaster, who made sure that Craigslist stayed true to its mission. Many websites capitalize on advertisements, but not Craigslist.
The company has turned down several revenue-generating opportunities, resulting in criticism against Buckmaster’s approach. However, because Craigslist doesn’t rely much on advertising, it easily survived the Dot Com Crash of 1995 and it remains one of the most popular websites today.Buckmaster stayed true to his values. Instead of pleasing everyone, he focused on providing better service to customers.

They Don’t Dwell On The Past

When James Matthew Barrie was only six years old, his older brother David died in an ice-skating accident. David was thirteen years old.James’ mother was devastated. At James’ young age, he did whatever he could to make his mother happy; he even pretended to be David by wearing his deceased older brother’s clothes. He also decided that he wanted to remain thirteen forever, the same age as David when he died.When James finished high school, he told his parents that he wanted to become an author. However, his mother insisted that he should go to university because that is what David would have done.James agreed, but he studied literature.
James Matthew Barrie wrote the famous book, Peter Pan – the story of a boy who couldn’t grow up.Have you ever wished you could go back and change the past? Do you carry regrets from years ago? Dwelling on the past prevents you from enjoying the present. You can miss out on what is happening right in front of you.No matter what you do, you cannot change what has happened in the past.  Instead, focus on what you can do now for a better future.Consider this inspiring story: Wynona Ward came from a poor rural family. Her father physically and sexually abused her, and she witnessed her mother be beaten every day by her father.
Wynona kept her pain a secret; she performed well at school and married as soon as she could, at the age of seventeen. She started a new life and built a career as a driver.Years later, Wynona heard that her old brother was abusing his own child. In that moment, she decided that she would do something to stop the cycle of abuse in her family.
She returned to school and studied law, when she completed her degree, she started an organization for victims of domestic violence.She helped victims receive free legal services and more – even personally driving some of the clients she served.Although she had a traumatic past, Wynona chose to move forward and make a positive difference. By letting go of her past, Wynona has helped many abused women and children, even changing the course of their futures by her influence. 

They Don’t Resent Other People’s Success

Dan’s neighborhood was a friendly community where residents often hosted parties. Neighbors would give lavish dinners and share about their recent successes. Despite being a friendly man with a lovely home and a good job, Dan kept a secret: he hated going to these parties.He did not want to hear about Michael’s new car or Scott’s big promotion. He felt frustrated that his neighbors could afford new, expensive things and he could not.Since his wife quit her job to care for their children their family budget had been tight. Dan spent more time at work to earn more money, he even borrowed extra money to sustain his family’s lifestyle.
Dan wanted to keep up with his neighbors, no matter the cost. But the increased hours at work and stress of their financial situation made him short-tempered and irritable. Eventually, he sought the help of Morin.Morin helped Dan to realize that he didn’t have to maintain an extravagant lifestyle for his family: he was pressuring himself to keep up with his neighbors. Dan shared that he grew up in a poor family and was bullied as a child; he did not want his children to have a similar experience.In time, Dan opened up to his wife about his struggle and together, they stopped competing with the neighbors and focused instead on their relationship as a family.
Do you feel jealous of others? Does social media increase feelings of bitterness or inadequacy? Do you often compare your life to others?
Remember this, the less time you spend thinking about other people’s success, the more time you have to achieve your own goals. Never compare yourself to others, instead compare your present self with your old self.There will always be someone who is more successful, popular and wealthier than you. Believe it or not, no one has a perfect life, even if they pretend to on social media.In her book, Morin shares about a client named John, a man who was struggling with multiple problems.He was addicted to alcohol and marijuana, and he used to shout and curse at his wife and children on a daily basis. Unemployed for six months, James could not pay his bills. He was constantly complaining about how unfair his life was.
One day, John arrived at Morin’s office and said, “You know, I don’t feel good about myself.” He was surprised when she replied, “That’s good, John.”He was stunned. “How can you say that? You’re my therapist. Your job is to help me feel better.”Morin explained that in his condition, admitting to himself that he doesn’t feel good is a healthy sign. It meant that somehow John knew that there was something wrong and that he needed to change.Therapist Morin was delighted to see John improve.By the last day of therapy, John had made significant progress: he had a job, he stopped using drugs and alcohol, and was treating his family better.Do you feel bitter about other people’s success? Have you ever considered if it is rooted in how you feel about yourself? When you are not satisfied with your own life, it can be easy to compare yourself with others.Instead, focus on changing yourself and reaching your own goals.


Never feel sorry for yourself. You have your own abilities and blessings in life. Change the aspects which you can control. You do not need to please everyone. Build strong relationships with the people who matter most.Do not dwell in the past: live in the moment and appreciate the present. Be a better person than who you were yesterday. Every day is an opportunity for you to become a better version of yourself.  

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