Letting others dictate our thoughts and emotions is easy.
People give away their power when they lack physical and emotional boundaries, psychotherapist Amy Morin writes in her book “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do.”
In the book, Morin writes mentally strong people don’t give away their power because it can negatively affect your career, relationships, and self-worth.
But Morin says she’s had everyone from CEOs to government officials tell her this is a major struggle for them.
“It’s clear that even really powerful people still find themselves giving away their power by blaming other people for how they feel,” she says. “Sometimes, they also acknowledge that they spend way too much time and energy thinking about negative people.”
Here are some ways mentally strong people avoid giving away their power:
1. Use language that acknowledges your choice.
It’s easy to give away your power without even realising it. It’s as simple as “saying that someone makes you mad” or “claiming that you have to do something,” Morin says.
Yes, other people will have an influence on your thoughts and feelings, but it’s important that our language leads to better behaviour. “Recognise that you have the power to control how you think, feel, and behave,” Morin says.
2. Set healthy emotional and physical boundaries with people.
If you’re feeling like you will get angry or stressed, set physical and emotional boundaries and don’t let other people infringe on them. “People with poor boundaries are likely to get upset when you set limits, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing anything wrong,” Morin says.
For example, each time you say yes to something you really don’t want to do, you’re giving the other person power over you. The same thing happens if you don’t like the way someone treats you but you refuse to stand up for yourself, Morin writes in her book.
3. Behave proactively by making conscious choices about how you’ll respond to others.
It all starts with awareness and knowing which people are most likely to bring out the worst in you, Morin says. She explains that it’s important to do anything you can to avoid unproductive arguments and keep your temper in check.
“Make a conscious choice to behave in accordance with your values, despite your circumstances,” Morin says.
4. Take full responsibility for how you choose to spend your time and energy.
It’s important that you don’t allow yourself to feel like a victim of other people, Morin says, because anything you do is in your control.
“Rather than insist you had to spend time with your mother-in-law, acknowledge that it’s your choice,” she says.
The same goes for working late: “Don’t insist your boss makes you work late,” Morin says. “There may be consequences if you don’t work late, but it’s still a choice.”
5. Choose to forgive people regardless of whether they seek to make amends.
“Waiting for someone to apologise before you offer forgiveness gives that individual power over you,” Morin says. “Let go of the hurt, pain, or anger for your own sake, rather than waiting for proof the other individual feels sorry.”
Holding a grudge will only hurt you, she says. It’s your choice to forgive someone else and move past whatever might have happened.
6. Be willing to examine feedback and criticism without jumping to conclusions.
Regardless of your field or your job title, you are bound to be given some type of feedback, both positive and critical. Either way, and especially when it’s negative, it’s important not to let it dictate how you feel about yourself, Morin says.
“While it’s healthy to evaluate feedback from others to see if it has any merit, automatically becoming defensive or believing criticism is true isn’t helpful,” she says.
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