This is a fantastic book by Amy Morin, I highly recommend you all read it. While it is not a Jewish book it really is all about emunah and how our job is to go from contraction to expansion. Remember, contraction of intellect focuses on the problem while expansion focuses on the solution. How do we go from contraction to expansion? Through faith! Everyone on this earth has unlimited potential, we just create blockages in our minds which limit our fulfillment of that potential. Let’s look at the thirteen things which successful and mentally strong people do not do.
First, they do not waste time feeling sorry for themselves. Self-pity is counterproductive, all it does is shut off our emunah and denies our creator the glory he deserves. It is so destructive in our lives as it is addictive, it is a source of short-term but immediate pleasure, and it separates a person from reality. Self-pity is just like a dangerous narcotic! It is a problem because it causes you to get stuck in the past, inhibiting your ability to move on to the next chapter in your life. Mentally strong people do not go around saying “Why me?” they say “What’s next!”
Next, they do not give away their power to others. What do we mean by giving away your power? You give away your power when you allow someone else to hurt your feelings or cause you to form a resentment. No one has the innate power to make you feel a certain way, you give them that power through your interpretation of the situation. When you hate your enemy you have given them power over you as they hold sway over your mental and emotional state. How can you tell if you’re giving away your power? If you are easily offended or angered, these are signs that you are giving others power over you.
Third, they do not shy away from change. The Torah instructs us to get out of our comfort zones because growth never happens within a comfort zone. This is the purpose of emotions - when you are feeling bad, it is an indicator that you need to make a change! Your life will not change unless you form new daily habits. This is no easy task, but it is not a lack of willpower preventing your successfully forming a new habit, you just aren’t ready for change. We are naturally inclined to resist change because we are stubborn, this is just part of the human condition. When you first try to form a new habit, you struggle to stick with it in those first few weeks. You have to accept that pain is non negotiable, you can either go through short term pain in the present and reap the rewards later or avoid the pain of the present and suffer long-term pain later on.
Fourth, they do not focus on things they cannot control. What a waste of time it is worrying about something outside of your control! This is another common source of anxiety and anger - you worry about something outside of your control, and grow frustrated and angry at your inability to effect change in the situation. We need to pray and release, placing our trust in our creator. After all, He is the one running the show! All that is required of us is our putting forth the effort, we leave the results to Hashem. A person with control issues is often exhausted and burnt out as well, if this is common for you you should look at how much time you are spending focused on things you have no control over.
Next, they do not worry about pleasing everyone all the time. A person who always cares about what others think will always be a prisoner. Obviously we all want to make people happy, but if we take this too far we lose ourselves in our attempts to please everyone around us, becoming a pushover and neglecting our own desires and opportunities.
Mentally strong people are not afraid of taking calculated risks. Successful people recognize the fact that sometimes vessels have to break, so they are not afraid to take action since they understand a vessel breaking is part of their creator’s plan. Nothing in life is guaranteed, but if you never take any risks you are guaranteed to never achieve success! Life is all about experience, the more you have the better you become at living. There is no failure - you either win or you learn!
Seventh, they do not dwell on the past. All our negative thoughts are born out of the past, as we waste our time wondering how much better our lives would be if only things had gone differently. Avoid dwelling on the past by setting aside a specific time during the day to think on the past, fifteen minutes at most. Once that time is up, that’s it! Get yourself back into the present moment and move on. Denial of our past is equally detrimental to our present, as denying the past prevents us from carrying the lessons we’ve learned into the present.
Next, they do not make the same mistakes over and over again. John Powell has a great quote about this: “The only real mistake is one from which we learn nothing.” When we find ourselves making the same mistakes repeatedly, this is because we are being stubborn and refusing to learn the lesson we are meant to take away from the situation that will allow us to overcome the obstacle and move forward.
Ninth, mentally strong people do not resent the success of others. If you see another person enjoying a great deal of success, you should either celebrate them or serve them. The last thing you want to do is envy them, as all this does is creates a blockage in your own vessel, preventing you from receiving the blessings Hashem had prepared for you. Stay in your own lane and remember, no one’s life is perfect! Just because from your perspective someone’s life looks amazing does not mean they are not experiencing a lack in an area not visible to you.
Tenth, they do not give up after the first failure. Mentally strong people recognize that failure is just a part of the process and cannot be the termination of their effort. Any person who avoids failure will also avoid success - you cannot have one without the other. If we had nothing but success in life we wouldn’t appreciate it or even see it as a blessing! This idea goes for marriage as well, just because the first did not work out does not mean you should not try again.
Mentally strong people are not afraid of spending time alone with their thoughts. In fact, they cherish and appreciate this time as it allows them to reflect on their day and where they are placing their effort and focus. You should learn to enjoy time alone as without it you can never examine your thoughts and feelings, which is an important part of letting go of negative emotions.
Twelfth, they do not feel the world owes them anything. Everyone comes into this world as a guest, so anything you get while you are here is a gift. Just because your neighbor or your friend was given something doesn’t mean you are entitled to receive as well. Remember to practice humility, as the more humble a man is the more he sees how much he already has in life.
Last, but certainly not least, mentally strong people do not expect immediate results. They appreciate the process rather than focusing on the arrival of the reward. Usually the greatest blessings in life are received after a long period of effort and patience, which is why successful people revel in the process and maintain patience rather than grow frustrated that the blessings have not been received on their timetable.
These are thirteen mental blockages which successful and mentally strong people avoid in their daily lives. If you can identify areas in which you are struggling, pray to your creator to help you improve these aspects of your mentality, and put forth the required effort to change your thought processes, your emunah will grow, your mental stability will improve, and you will gain a new perspective. All of these will result in your being prepared to receive the blessings Hashem wishes to give you in life!