5 Ways to Kick the Habits That Sap Your Mental Strength

No matter what goals you’ve set for yourself, you’ll struggle to reach them if your brain is working against you. The way you think affects how you feel and how you behave. And it only takes one bad mental habit to hold you back.

Getting rid of your bad mental habits will help you work smarter, not harder. Your good habits will become more effective when you’ve eliminated the unhealthy habits that steal your time and rob you of mental strength.

Alliance/Shutterstock

Alliance/Shutterstock

Kicking these five bad mental habits will help you meet your goals:

1. Create behavioral experiments to challenge your self-limiting beliefs.

Everyone experiences self-limiting beliefs at one time or another. Maybe you think you’re not good enough to get a promotion. Or perhaps you’re convinced no one will like you if they really know you.

Those self-limiting beliefs will turn into self-fulfilling prophecies—unless you challenge them. Remember, your beliefs aren’t necessarily true.

Be willing to prove yourself wrong. Take one small step to challenge your beliefs. When you view life as a series of behavioral experiments, you can test the negative assumptions you make about yourself.

2. Replace victim language with statements that empower you.

Statements like, “My friends make me spend more money than I want,” or “My boss makes me feel bad about myself,” cause you to become a victim of your circumstances. It’s important to recognize that no matter how tough things are, you still have choices.

Stop giving away your personal power. Remember that the only person who controls how you think, feel, and behave is you.

When you find yourself blaming other people—or your circumstances—stop yourself. Use language that empowers you to be in the driver’s seat in your life.

3. Practice self-compassion.

Beating yourself up after a mistake or calling yourself names won’t motivate you to do better. In fact, it’ll hurt your performance and drag you down.

If you want to do better, practice self-compassion. Talk to yourself like a trusted friend. Be honest, but refuse to be overly self-critical.

So rather than calling yourself an idiot for messing up, remind yourself that everyone makes mistakes. Commit to learning from your mistakes so you can do better next time.

4. Behave like the person you want to become.

Thinking, “I wish I could be a happier person,” or “I wish I could be a morning person” won’t do you any good. If you want to change your life, you have to get out of your head and make it happen.

The best way to do that is to behave like the person you want to become. Whether you want to be a productive person or a mentally strong person, ask yourself, “What does a person like that do?”

Then, behave like the person you want to become. That doesn’t mean acting fake or pretending to be someone you’re not. Instead, it’s about becoming the best version of yourself by changing the way you behave.

5. Practice living in the moment.

It’s easy to waste time wishing the past were different or worrying about what might happen in the future. But the only time you can change your life is right now.

If you want to improve yourself, pay attention to what is going on around you. Mindfulness takes practice and a concerted effort. But over time, you can learn how to become fully aware of the here and now.

Research has linked mindfulness to everything from better health and improved relationships to heightened focus and increased mental strength.

Build Your Mental Muscle

People have the ability to train their brain for happiness and success. Becoming aware of your bad habits is the first step in creating positive change.

Letting go of your bad mental habits will jump-start your mental strength training. Commit to building mental muscle and you’ll be prepared to reach your goals—no matter what obstacles you face.

About Amy Morin

Amy Morin is a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist. Since 2002, she has been counseling children, teens, and adults. Amy also works as a freelance writer, adjunct college instructor, About.com's parenting teen expert and discipline expert, as a nationally recognized speaker and is a contributor to Forbes. Amy's Forbes articles cover the psychology of business and entrepreneurship.

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