16 Things Emotionally Strong People Don’t Do

16 Things Emotionally Strong People Don’t Do

You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think, and twice as capable as you have ever imagined.

When you add up nearly a decade worth of online conversations with our community of readers, the live events we’ve hosted in support of our book, and thousands of one-on-one coaching sessions with clients, Marc and I have a lot of experience when it comes to helping people find and resolve the pain points that have been holding them back.  But I am still frequently surprised by the interesting ways people frame questions about their challenges.

Last night a reader named Karla sent me an email that caught my attention, simply because the subject of her email was: “Things Emotionally Strong People Don’t Do” (An interesting title for an article, I thought.)

Part of Karla’s email read:  “I love your book.  It has helped me get through some seriously tough times.  But even though I’ve made progress, I often struggle with emotional weakness.  I persistently resist what I know I need to do for myself.  So I was wondering, what do emotionally strong people NOT do?  The reason I ask is that I’ve spent a lot of time implementing positive habits in my life, but I haven’t really focused on removing any (parallel) bad habits.”

There are a million ways to answer this question (especially as it relates to Karla’s unique life situation), but since emotional weakness is something all of us struggle with at times, I figured I’d take a stab at answering Karla’s question in a general sense, for all of us.

Here are some things emotionally strong people don’t do:

  1. They don’t let negativity and drama get the best of them. – Your brain is a radio transmitter.  It broadcasts thoughts, directions and vibrations into your life – you get to choose the station it’s tuned to.  Emotionally strong people understand this and tune out negativity to make room for positivity.  Be wise enough to follow in their footsteps.  Walk away from the nonsense around you.  Focus on the positives, and soon the negatives will be harder to see.
  2. They don’t waste time feeling sorry for themselves. – Emotionally strong people don’t sit around feeling sorry about their circumstances or how others have treated them.  Instead, they take responsibility for their role in life, work on changing what can be changed, and keep in mind that life isn’t always easy or fair.  In the end, happiness is not the absence of problems, but simply the ability to deal well with them.  So look at what you have, instead of what you have lost.  Because it’s not what the world takes away from you that counts; it’s what you do with what you have left.
  3. They don’t think they need more to be happy. – Emotionally strong people know that happiness is a mindset of appreciation.  In other words, happiness doesn’t start when “this, that or the other thing” is resolved.  Happiness is what happens now when you appreciate what you have.  (Read Authentic Happiness.)
  4. They don’t compare their journey to everyone else’s. – Social comparison is the thief of happiness.  Do YOUR best and don’t compare your progress with that of others.  They aren’t YOU.  We all need our own time to travel our own distance.  Emotionally strong people know this is the truth, and they live by it.
  5. They don’t envy and resent other people’s success. – Emotionally strong people can genuinely appreciate and celebrate other people’s success.  They don’t grow envious or feel cheated when others achieve something they are trying to achieve.  Instead, they recognize that success comes with hard work, and they are willing to work hard for their own chance at success.  True confidence has no room for envy and resentment.  When you know you are great, you have no reason to hate.
  6. They don’t expect everything to be easy. – Emotionally strong people don’t view failures and delays as reasons to give up.  Instead, they use failure as an opportunity to grow and improve.  They are willing to keep trying until they get it right.  Whether they are working on improving their health or getting a new business off the ground, emotionally strong people don’t expect immediate results.  Instead, they apply their efforts and skills to the best of their ability and understand that real change takes time.
  7. They don’t say, “I can’t.” – As Henry Ford put it, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you are right.”  Emotionally strong people know this is true.  If you really want to do something, you can and you will find a way.  If you don’t, you will surely find a long list of excuses.  So stop saying “I wish” and start saying “I will.”  Turn your “can’ts” into “cans” and your dreams into plans.
  8. They don’t let fleeting temptations distract them from their dreams. – Don’t let the temptations of today distract you from what you deserve.  Stay emotionally strong.  Do what you have to do now so you can do what you want to do later.
  9. They don’t get impatient and settle. – Good things don’t come to those who wait.  Good things come to those who are patient… while working hard for what they want most in life.  If you know what you want, if you can see it, feel it and move toward it in some small way every single day… it has to happen.  Be patient and keep working.  That’s what emotionally strong people do.  (Read Awaken the Giant Within.)
  10. They don’t make the same exact mistakes over and over again. – You can’t make the same mistake twice.  Because the second time you make it, it’s no longer a mistake, it’s a choice.  Emotionally strong people accept responsibility for their behavior and learn from their past mistakes.  As a result, they don’t keep repeating the same mistakes over and over.  Instead, they grow and move on to better decisions and new lessons.
  11. They don’t resist change. – Emotionally strong people don’t try to avoid change.  Instead, they welcome positive change into their life and are willing to be flexible.  They understand that change is inevitable and believe in their abilities to adapt.  Change happens for a reason.  Roll with it!  It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.
  12. They don’t waste time and energy on things they can’t control. – You won’t hear an emotionally strong person complaining over traffic jams and rainy days.  Instead, they focus on what they can control in their lives.  And above all, they recognize that sometimes the only thing they can control is their attitude.  After all, inner peace begins the moment you choose not to allow an uncontrollable event or person to control your emotions.
  13. They don’t hang on every word other people say about them. – Emotionally strong people listen to their own heart and intuition, not the peanut gallery.  So try not to take things other people say about you too personally.  What they think and say is a reflection of them, not you.  Ultimately, you can’t change how people treat you or what they say about you.  All you can do is change how you react and who you choose to be around.
  14. They don’t think everyone is out to get them. – Emotionally strong people choose to see the good in others.  Because the truth is, the world is full of good people.  Whoever says otherwise hasn’t looked around.  So look around.  Appreciate them.  Connect and smile together.  When you choose to see the good in others, you end up finding the good in yourself.
  15. They don’t worry about pleasing everyone. – Emotionally strong people recognize that they don’t need to please everyone all the time.  They’re not afraid to say no or speak up when necessary.  They strive to be compassionate and fair, but can handle other people being disappointed if they didn’t perfectly live up to their unfair expectations.  The bottom line is, pleasing everyone is impossible.  May the bridges you burn light your way.  (Marc and I discuss this in detail in the “Relationships” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
  16. They don’t think it’s too late to start over. – Let go of the idea that it’s too late to start over.  Remember, it’s always better to be at the bottom of the ladder you want to climb than the top of the one you don’t… even if it means beginning anew.  Just because some things didn’t work out as you had expected, or didn’t happen as fast as you thought they would, is no excuse to give up on yourself.  Time passes one way or the other.  Do what you need to do so that, at the very least, you can look back someday and say, “I gave life my best shot.”

And remember, it only takes one idea, one second in time, one relationship, one dream, one leap of faith, to change everything, forever.  So hang in there.  Keep exercising your emotional strength.

The floor is yours…

What’s one habit or belief that has slowed you down and weakened your emotional strength?  How have you coped?  Leave a comment below and share your thoughts and insights.

Photo by: RelaxingMusic


  1. Joey says

    I found this article great. I work really hard to achieve things I want for myself and I’m currently considering ways I can work really hard to help others. But whether I’m working hard or taking it easy, working for me or others, it’s a great idea to appreciate what I have now, what I have around me. If I can’t appreciate what is around me now then that’ll be my habit and my norm and that’ll continue no matter what else changes in my life. I want to look in the mirror and say “I like that guy!”

    Cheers the article


  2. Lara says

    Number 12 is something I am still learning to overcome – I allow what other people say and how they treat me to affect me. My sister is constantly rude to me – she bosses me around and is always telling me how I should feel and what I should do – for example when I was hurting over my ex boyfriend – taking time to get over him and going through my grief stage, I would tell her that I tried to call him – and she would tell me “You shouldn’t call him, you are wasting your time” she didn’t even give me a chance to explain why I called him – she always just jumps the gun and tells me what to do or how I should feel.

    Another example is if she is driving she will expect me to pay attention to the road and help her out with GPS or maps on my phone in getting somewhere. I can’t be playing games on my phone or texting people (mind you I’m the passenger – she’s the driver and she knows very well where we are going) – but when I’m driving and I genuinely need help with directions as my GPS isn’t always reliable – she says “I don’t know how to operate my maps on my phone (her own phone mind you) and she will be more than happy to play on her phone and not be of any help. Her latest excuse is I’m not feeling well – when she doesn’t want to be helpful.

    I have learned to stop relying on her as she is useless – but I do find myself stuck from time to time trying to open up to her to explain that her behaviour hurts my feelings – that is where I’m going wrong – I have to stop allowing what she and others do to affect me. I need to say – that is their problem and move along.

    Easier said than done – I could write a whole book on what my sister does that annoys me. I can’t control what she says – how she thinks or how she treats me, I can control how much I allow her to treat me like that, by ignoring her and I guess talking to her less and less, sharing my thoughts and problems with her less and less. The catch is she is my sister and I care about her – but I guess there comes a time in everyones life where no matter who they are – if they make you feel horrible and upset you – then I shouldn’t allow that person to affect me.

    Great article – I think I have mastered some of them – but need to practice working on some :)

  3. says

    I sometimes fall victim to your 4th point: comparing my journey to those of others. It’s ironic how even though most of us understand that the world has a vast combination of people, we refuse to realize the combination of paths we could face.

    It really helps to believe that yourself is a special breed. There’s a specific purpose for your co-existence with others. And since success will vary depending on who you talk to, you can’t really assume that someone else is “doing better” than you.

  4. says

    Emotionally strong people make mistakes and are guilty of violating every item on this list, they just learn to do it less often, not as vehemently and for shorter periods of time
    They accept they are not perfect and will try to learn from their mistakes and will recognize when they are making them again sooner and work to avoid making them again sooner but since they’re not perfect they also understand they will make them again again and learn to laugh at themselves for screwing up yet again.

    Great list to aspire to as long you understand it’s an ideal state and will never be a real state 100% of the time. The authors should have caveated it with emotionally strong people most of the time avoid…

  5. alison says

    Worrying about my family’s expectations, ideas, beliefs, gossip, etc… About what they think I should do has kept me back for so long, in horrid jobs and painfilled relationships. I have doggedly returned to my true love and sense of destiny in life after following what I believed people in my family thought I should do- which got me nowhere when I did for many years. Now I’m approaching my goals more and more and some of them, my siblings, are almost furious with me! I am worried I will give it all up to get that 9 to 5 they believe I should follow them in doing, but I’m starting to get accolades for my work… If I just keep at it… Thank you for writing these and helping me to keep on being determined to follow my own path.

  6. mmbphmmbph says

    Great vibrations here. Agree with Kevin Mireles, though I like to see the perfection in how things are working ‘good enough’..so my applause to the author.

    I love how the internet can be a place everyone can come to and share our light to illuminate our shadow collectively and separately.

    Currently, my least favorite habit is falling in love too quickly with anyone..platonically and otherwise. I seem to have almost no motivation to pursue my dreams in physicality unless I’m with someone I can spend most my life with.

  7. Jamie says

    So so so many of these hit home :/ A bit sobering and also illuminating. I feel I do so many things to hold myself back and slow myself down. The main one that comes to mind is how negative I am towards myself, how self-critical and self-loathing I am. It’s really hard to feel good about any little thing I may achieve (any step towards growth or a positive change) when I attack myself, berate and blame myself for “everything that went wrong”. I feel this takes away so much clarity or chance to either take reasonable, and possibly needed, responsibility, or be able to be compassionate towards myself and accept that sometimes other people really are behaving in a way that doesn’t work for me or hurts or confuses me. Sometimes, I suppose, people are just being themselves, the same way I’m just being myself, “warts and all”. I’ve tried to cope with this by breathing, taking time to be alone with myself, and really asking myself why I get so upset (or sad, or angry, hurt, etc.) in a tough situation, so I can be honest and real with myself and another person. It doesnt’ always make thing magically better (oh if only it would!) but I think focusing on how I’m doing that is a lot better than focusing on how it “doesnt’ work and I ruined it by being honest”. Which, as I say it now, seems totally silly and not true! Thanks for this article.

  8. says

    Great point,

    The only thing I would have to say to this , and that I know about and always tell my clients, is you have to be careful with “not expecting things to be easy” because if you expect things to be hard, then they will be.

    So, my advice always is DO EXPECT and VISUAL things to be easy, and you’ll see how your life will improve.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *