5 Reasons Why Someone Might Be Mentally Stronger Than You

Some factors are outside of your control.

Posted Oct 15, 2020

Comeback Images / Adobestock
Source: Comeback Images / Adobestock

You may have looked around at times and wondered how your co-worker adapts to change so well. Or maybe you have a friend who bounces back from failure and has an incredible ability to persist at her goals. You might even begin to question whether you’re just not able to be a strong person. 

When you’re not feeling so strong, it’s tempting to put yourself down. But the truth is, everyone has the ability to develop more mental strength. 

I’ve met many mentally strong people in my therapy office as well as through my podcast—which just happens to be called Mentally Strong People.

Talking to individuals who are good at managing their emotions, reframing their negative thoughts, and taking positive action has taught me a lot about what it means to be mentally strong. 

I’ve learned new mental strength exercises, which exercises seem to be the most effective, and which habits tend to drain people of mental strength. 

So if you feel frustrated sometimes because other people seem to have more mental strength than you, rest assured you can build bigger mental muscles too. But it’s important to understand which factors you have control over and which you don’t. Here are five reasons why someone might be mentally stronger than you.

1. They Have Genes That Put Them at Lower Risk.

Mental strength is similar to physical strength—some people are born with a genetic advantage. Others are born with a heightened risk for illnesses or issues that put them at a disadvantage. 

You can’t help it if you are genetically more susceptible to ADHD, anxiety, or depression. You may have inherited genes from your parents that mean you are more likely to have a mental illness.

And while having a mental health issue doesn’t mean you’re weak (I’ve met plenty of strong people who were battling mental health issues), building mental muscle can feel like an uphill battle when you’re combating an illness.

If you weren’t born with genetics on your side, however, don’t despair. You can still build incredible mental strength. 

2. They Had Different Life Experiences.

Your experiences—especially your childhood experiences—can greatly affect your mental strength.

But it’s not really the experiences themselves that determine the size of your mental muscles. It’s your response to those experiences that makes the difference.

Maybe you had a rough childhood and you’ve developed self-esteem issues because you believe you are fragile. But maybe your friend who also had a rough childhood became more confident than ever because they believe if they survived a bad childhood, they can live through anything. 

It’s not just traumatic experiences that play a role. Perhaps someone else had more positive role models or they may have grown up with plenty of support and resources that shaped them.

Consider how your life experiences have shaped you. While you can’t change what happened, you can change how those encounters affect you. You can also change any self-limiting beliefs you may have learned along the way.

3. They Have a Different Personality.

Some people are blessed with personalities that attract healthy, positive attention. Their personalities may open the door to lots of great relationships and exciting opportunities that help them stay strong. 

You might feel as though you don’t have quite so much award-winning charisma. And that may add a little more difficulty to life at times. 

The point is not that “extroverts have the advantage” or anything like that. In fact, the true advantage is self-awareness.

So simply understanding your weakness and your strengths (as well as the things you can change about yourself) could be key to reaching your greatest potential.

4. They Have a Healthier Environment.

Sometimes people mistakenly believe if you’re mentally strong, you should be able to tough it out in any environment. But that’s not true.

Your surroundings play a huge role in your mental strength. If you’re surrounded by toxic people, unhealthy temptations, and complete chaos, you’ll waste a lot of brainpower throughout the day.

That’s why mentally strong people create healthy environments for themselves. Rather than waste willpower and mental real estate on fighting constant temptations, they preserve their energy for the most important tasks. They set themselves up for success so they can feel and do their best all the time.

So if you’re living, working, or playing in an environment that is dragging you down, you may want to make some changes.

5. They Put in More Effort.

Mental muscles grow with tension—just like the physical ones do. Mentally strong people put time and energy into learning, growing, and challenging themselves.

They also experiment with coping skills and lifestyle changes to determine what works best for them. Just like there isn’t a one-size-fits-all workout for physical strength, mental strength should also be customized. What works for one person might not be as effective for you.

Mentally strong people perform exercises (like expressing gratitude or facing a fear) that help them grow stronger and become better. And they know that no matter how strong they are, there’s always room for improvement.

Fortunately, you get to decide how much time and effort you put into self-development. You can choose to do things that help you grow stronger every day or you can choose to engage in unhealthy habits that drain you of mental strength.

Get Help to Grow Stronger

Mental strength shouldn't be a competition. Don't make your goal to be stronger than someone else. Instead, focus on becoming a little stronger today than you were yesterday.

Just make sure you don't confuse being strong with acting tough. True strength is about acknowledging your weaknesses, asking for help, and working to become better.

If you want to grow stronger and aren’t sure where to begin, consider getting professional help. Talking to a therapist may help you learn new exercises and strategies that can help you become the strongest and best version of yourself.

To find a mental health professional near you, visit Psychology Today's therapy directory.

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