3 Habits That Will Make You Mentally Strong

#2: Avoid unnecessary mental time travel

Nick Wignall
9 min readApr 2


Photo by Rene Asmussen

Here’s how I think about mental strength:

Mental strength is the ability to control your mind instead of being controlled by it.

For example:

  • Instead of getting sucked into spirals of self-criticism and shame, mental strength is what allows you to redirect your attention and thinking somewhere else less destructive — like that conversation you’re having with your son or the report you’re supposed to be drafting.
  • Rather than impulsively responding to your spouse’s sarcastic comment with a witty jab of your own, you are able to resist the impulse and either say nothing or mention assertively that you don’t appreciate the sarcasm.

Now, obviously there are aspects of your mind that you can’t control… Whether a specific memory pops into mind, for example. Or whether you feel afraid of almost getting run over by a car.

So becoming mentally strong doesn’t mean you are able to exert complete control over everything that goes on between your ears.

Mental strength means understanding which parts of your mind you can control and being able to do it well when it matters.

For example:

  • You may not be able to control whether a random worry pops into your mind. But you can control whether you keep worrying about it.
  • You can’t control whether someone says something insensitive to you. But you can control what you say in response.

One of the many benefits of becoming more mentally strong is that it’s one of the best ways to improve how you feel emotionally….

  • The only way to lower your anxiety in the long term is to learn how to control your mental patterns of worry.
  • You’ll only be able to get a handle on your anger issues when you learn to control your mental patterns of rumination.
  • It’s hard to break the cycle of low self-esteem without learning how to manage your mental pattern of self-criticism.

In other words…



Nick Wignall

Psychologist and writer sharing practical advice for emotional health and well-being: https://thefriendlymind.com