Is Your Mind Weak Or Strong?
When I think of a weak minded person vs. a strong minded person, I think of James Bond tied to a chair in an underground room, somewhere in a foreign country, being tortured and still not giving up a secret “”key code”” to an evil supervillain.
The difference between a strong mind, and a weak mind, is a lot more subtle.
A weak minded person might just wander through life never feeling a true sense of fulfillment or happiness, and constantly feeling that “life is happening to them”, while a stronger minded person is more likely to cultivate deeper levels of happiness, and be more in control of their own life.
This is not only my perspective, but a perspective commonly shared amongst industry experts.
In this article we’ll explore expert opinions and analysis to determine the top signs that someone is weak minded, and how to overcome mental weakness and build mental strength.
Let’s Dive In.
Signs of a Weak Mind (and character)
Indications Of Low Emotional Intelligence
1. Masking Insecurities –
Lybi Ma, the Executive Editor of Psychology Today agrees, that we all ‘wear emotional masks’ to some degree or another.
For example, if someone feels insecure, they might ‘hide behind the mask’ of name-dropping.
If someone feels lacking in power, they can hide behind the mask of being a bully. If someone doesn’t feel that the world loves them, they might hide behind a mask of anger.
People often pretend that things are fine at work, when their jobs are actually on-the-line, and often pretend things are okay in their marriages, when there is clear distance.
Pretending To Act Tough –
Licensed Clinical Social Worker, psychotherapist, and best selling author Amy Morin has found that, “Acting tough is all about developing a persona that says, “Look at how great I am.”.
But usually, that tough exterior is just a shell, meant to hide deep insecurity.
2. Seeking Frequent External Validation –
Author and psychotherapist, Dr. Ilene S. Cohen writes that when “other peoples acceptance of you” impacts how you make decisions, then it’s an indication of low self-awareness, a weak mind, and a lack in overall awareness of what’s really important to you.
This is not to be confused with the actions ‘highly self-aware, and strong minded people’, who always look to leverage the opinions and perspectives of experts in order to make better decisions, towards what’s really important to them.
According to the experts at PsychCentral, when we don’t rely on external sources (other people or social media) to validate our positive existence , our sense of self-esteem actually starts to grow over time coming from the inside-out.
Slowly, we’ll feel more connected with ourselves and over time as we grow stronger, our perspective will change and we’ll be able to accept certain things about ourselves that our psyche wouldn’t even allow us to accept about ourselves before.
3. Suppressing and Repressing Emotions –
Repressing emotions is not the same as suppressing emotions (although many people get the mixed up).
People who repress emotions, might be doing so unconsciously and therefore they might not realize that they are repressing emotions.
Suppressing emotions is a conscious defense mechanism used in an attempt to avoid feeling negative emotions or being perceived as weak. For example, feeling pain, trauma, and displaying affection, or empathy.
Dr. Dan Brennan, MD has found that if you have recurring trouble in your relationships, or if you’re secretly feeling insecure, or if you avoid certain emotions, then these could all be signs that you tend to unconsciously avoid certain emotions.
Those who practice feeling all of their emotions, and facing their insecurities head on, tend to be much more strong minded, than those who are more weak minded and suppress, repress, and mask their true feelings.
4. Thinking That You Can Do Everything –
The most successful people in the world rely on field experts and delegate tasks efficiently to others who know more about the specifics than they do.
In other words, strong minded individuals understand their limitations (weaknesses) and leverage other peoples expertise (strengths) to help them achieve a common goal.
I’ve talked before that as humans, we tend to naturally fall into the trap of “illusory superiority”, which means that we are easily susceptible to the delusion of believing that we ”know” more than we really do.
According to experts, when we don’t fully understand something, we then tend to oversimplify it. By oversimplifying, it gives us a feeling of control and understanding, but in reality, it’s a false sense of control.
But by becoming aware of what you don’t ‘”actually know’”, it puts you into an advantage over others, and in place of power and wisdom. By understanding that you can’t “do” or “know” everything, it allows you to seek outside perspectives which will ultimately give you a clearer understanding of reality.
5. Trying To Control Other People –
Medical News Today expert, Dr. Janet Brito, agrees that everyone wants control of their lives, but for some people, the need to control everything in their environment ‘at all times’ may be a sign of untamed anxiety, or a mental health disorder like narcissism.
The external ‘need for control’, may be a sign of an internal feeling of lacking control. So to make up for the internal feelings one may try and overcompensate by being overcontrolling.
Most clinical professional agree, that when someone tries to control or manipulate some else, it can be damaging and a form of abuse.
Micromanaging is something that we can all do with-out being aware of it. People micromanage as a way of holdinh onto control of a situation. The reason behind why someone might constantly micromanage could be a number of reasons, such as fear, loss of control, inexperience, or insecurity.
Medical experts need to make life saving decisions in seconds which is why the American Association of Nurses teaches that micromanaging is the enemy of teamwork. Ironically, by releasing control of others, you actually strengthen your own personal power, and increase respect.
6. Blaming Others For Your Problems –
Playing sports as a kid is a great way to learn accountability. I learned the hard way that if you make a mistake in a basketball game, and blame someone else or try to cover it up, then you will lose the respect of your teammates. The same is true in life.
Dr. Bernard Golden is the founder of Anger Management Education in Chicago, and Dr. Golden has found, through his 40 years of professional experience, that by accepting full responsibility (and not blaming others) we develop a deep resilience (strong mind) for dealing with some of life’s most difficult challenges, like relationships, daily pressures, and our past.
7. Being Overly Trusting –
There’s a delicate balance between being paranoid and trusting no-one, and being naive and trusting everyone. Being too trusting can open you up to people who might take advantage of you.
Author Marty Nemko, Ph.D has wrote 13 books on psychology, over 4,000 articles, and was recently named San Francisco Bay Area’s “Best Career Coach,”
Dr. Nemko names a few key aspects to look out for when giving out your trust.
- Be wary of praise from people who you pay.
- Some people are kind because they want something.
- Beware of a “generous” offer (if its too good to be true, there might be a hidden motivation)
- Beware of fake anger or tears (which could be used to manipulate)
8. Embracing a Victim Mentality –
Healthline expert Dr. Timothy J. Legg, PhD, PsyD, has found that a “”victim mentality”” rests on three fundamental key beliefs:
- Bad things happen and will keep happening.
- Other people or circumstances are to blame.
- Any efforts to create change will fail, so there’s no point in trying.
These beliefs go hand in hand with avoiding responsibility.
Many experts now understand that a victim mentality is a way for those who ‘feel powerless’ and ‘lack self-confidence’ to justify where they are in life. It’s easy to play the victim and it’s difficult (and takes a strong mind) to take responsibility and make changes. So when given those two options, a lot of people take the ‘path of least resistance’.
9. Lacking Clear Goals –
Setting goals in life, working towards those goals, and then achieving those goals can be a tasking experience, and takes a lot of mental fortitude.
I personally have lacked goals, set goals, failed at achieving goals, and (on occasion) achieved goals. I understand the full spectrum of feeling mentally strong and mentally weak when it comes to facing goals.
Whenever you set goals for yourself, there’s a chance that you’ll fail and won’t reach those goals. For a lot of people, the fear of not achieving their goals keeps them from even trying.
Ultimately those who lack clear goals likely lack purpose in their life, but by setting goals and going after them (whatever it takes) you’ll build a stronger mind and the ability to tackle any challenge head on.
10. Obsessing And Over-Analyzing –
If obsessing and overanalyzing was a sport, I might be Michael Jordan. This is a weak spot for me personally that I’m working on. Becoming aware of your over-obsessing is the first step.
According to Dr. Charles Herrick, M.D, who is the chairman of psychiatry at Western Connecticut Health Network… “If you think about overanalyzing as a habit, then you can break that habit by replacing it with something else,”
His suggestion: physical activity.
11. Being Consumed By Jealousy and Envy –
Jealousy and Envy and two toxic character traits that can consume the weak minded and poison their relationships.
The US born company FearlessCulture describe jealousy and envy best.
- Envy is a two-person relationship: I want what you have.
- Jealousy is a three-person triangle: I want the recognition you have from others.
Focusing on what other have is for the weak-minded, while focusing on yourself and providing value to others is for the strong minded.
12. Refusing To Forgive And Move On –
Do you hold onto grudges?
Strong minded individuals don’t have the time (or mental capacity) to waste on grudges, holding onto anger, or refusing to forgive.
It’s much easier in the long run (although mentally tougher short term) to just let go, forgive, and forget.
13. A Tendency To Anger Quickly –
A ‘short fuse’, and a tendency to get angry quickly, is a sign of someone who lacks the ‘mental toughness’ needed to control their emotional state adequately.
Dr. Elizabeth Wagner, Founder and CEO of ELEOS Psychology Center, suggests practicing breathing techniques to calm yourself in order to find a good balance between expressing your anger, while controlling your emotional response.
For example, try taking a deep breath to lower your heart rate, blood pressure, and calm your mind before reacting irrationally, which will be perceived as weak and immature.
By learning how to “control anger” instead of letting your “anger control you”, you’ll pave the way for more level-headed thoughts, and less weak-minded emotional reactions.
14. Trying To Dominate Others –
There’s a big difference between winning and dominating. Wining can be fun and exuberating, but once a victory (of any kind) is safely secured, there comes a time for compassion and empathy.
Winning is one thing, but dominating has a deeper, more sinister intent behind it. It’s not enough to just win, you also have to embarrass your opponent?
According to the Association for Psychological Science, people who have traits of dominating tend to exhibit arrogance, a sense of superiority, and conceitedness. They have higher-than-average levels of aggressiveness, disagree with others at higher levels, and have manipulative personality traits.
People who display high levels of dominance also score highly in the traits known as the ‘dark triad’: Machiavellianism, Narcissism, and Psychopathy.
15. Judgmental And Narrow-Minded –
Nothing says weak-minded like the inability to expand your mind and explore alternative perspectives other than your own.
For example, observing that the car in front of you just cut 3 people off, with-out judging that the driver is a complete jerk. This will allow you to be aware of your judgmental negative emotions without letting the story you tell yourself cloud your awareness.
Maybe that person just found out his/her daughter had a peanut allergy and is rushing to the hospital?
16. They Always Have To Be ‘Right’ –
Always “having to be right” and always needing to “have the last word” are both signs of deep insecurity, lacking a feeling of control, and weak-minded thinking. I would know, because I used to be the “last word guy”.
Since I’ve recognized this bout myself, I’ve learned to let-go and not need to be in control of every conversation.
17. They Struggle With Relationships –
Weak minded people often struggle with relationships because they blame others for their mistakes. This prevents them from learning from their mistakes, which in-turn leads to them making the same mistakes, over and over and over again. This is what we call a fractal behavioral pattern, which we discuss in more detail in this article.
Relationships take 2 people to make work. Period. It’s not always “”the other person”’.
18. Minimal Self-Control –
Self-control is probably the epitome of a strong-mind vs. a weak-mind.
Lack of self-control can ‘spiral’ out of control and effect every part of someone’s life. From sex, to personal health, to long-term vs. short term decision making.
In the “ultimate self-control guide”, Jakub Jílek, a PHD student in Cognitive Neuroscience produced a thorough study which found that “self-control had an equally powerful effect on success in life as intelligence and social class”.
Even 30 years later, the effects of childhood self-control skills was clear in the success of each adult.
19. You Can’t Handle The Truth –
When a person can’t get past the delivery of a message (the truth), it’s a sign of a immaturity, and lack of self-awareness.
Fragile minds never fully comprehend ‘the truth’ because they aren’t able to handle it. The truth might hurt their ego. Strong minds can take the hit and accept reality, but weaker minds may begin denying the truth, and making excuses because their ego can’t handle the truth.
20. People Know You As A Complainer –
No one likes a complainer.
Aurthor for the Harvard Business Review and Clinical Professor of Leadership Development, Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries, has found that chronic complainers in the workplace are toxic not only to themselves, but also to the people around them.
Those who are constantly complaining and ‘playing the victim’ form this habit in childhood. Professor Manfred believes this arises from a ‘need for validation’ and attention.
11 Ways Build Mental Strength
How To Overcome Mental Weakness
1. Understand Being Kind vs. Being Nice –
People often use the words “kind” and “nice” interchangeably, but there’s a vast difference between them. Being nice is ‘surface level’ easy and takes little mental toughness, while being kind is a ‘deeper rooted’ effort, and takes much more mental strength.
For example, when you walk past someone on the sidewalk and give them a smile or a wave, or when you open the door for someone as they enter a building, you’re being nice. Basic levels of being “nice” is expected of you as a functioning member of society.
Kindness is different. When you drive past someone with a flat tire, turn around, and then help them change it, you’re being kind. When someone asks you for a ride to work while their car is being fixed, and instead you let them borrow your spare car until theirs is out of the shop yo’re being kind.
See the difference.
Nice is expected, and kind is a deep rooted intent that goes above and beyond what is expected.
“Kindness relies on a lot of skills that we take for granted,” says author Houston Kraft, who spent seven years speaking at more than 600 schools, taking to students about kindness, empathy, connection, and leadership.
Kraft realized that to behave in “kindness” requires higher levels of skills like empathy, emotional regulation, perspective, and vulnerability. Holding open a door for someone walking behind you at Starbucks is a nice act, but not a true example of kindness.
Meditation Experts describe the difference between nice vs. kind the best.
2. Changing Your Mind –
Some people think changing your mind is a sign of weakness, but in actuality, changing your mind, based on new information, takes more courage (and a stronger mind) than refusing to change your mind, despite new information.
A study by Harvard found that people perceived entrepreneurs, who changed their minds, as a show of demonstrating intelligence.
3. Acknowledging Your Weaknesses (Focus On Your Strengths) –
Strengthen your mind by understanding your weaknesses, but focusing on your strengths.
An article written in Scientific American, by Dr. Lauren C. Howe, found that you’re much better off focusing on developing your strengths rather than improving your weaknesses.
Dr. Howe’s article focuses on multiple studies that conclude while most people try and focus on developing their weaknesses, most people fail. As opposed to those who found much more success by understanding their weaknesses, but still focusing on their strengths.
4. Asking For Help –
As humans, it hard for most of us to ask for help. Asking for help is seemingly wired into our DNA as a perceived sign of being weak-minded, needy, or incapable.
Author, Dr. Joan Rosenberg, writes that …, “Most people who have grown up in individualistic cultures like the United States are often raised with the belief that relying on others and asking for help is a burden to others and makes you seem emotionally weak.”
The reality is, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
In the words of author Patricia Haddock…, “As long as we view asking for help as weakness, we take the path to failure.”
The vast knowledge of all humanity is infinitely too large for any one person to know everything. While our ego may blind the weak-minded into thinking they don’t need to ask anyone for help, the strong minded understand the advantage of leveraging the knowledge of experts to help make important decisions.
5. Failing –
Failing is one of the best ways there is to build mental strength and mental toughness.
Speaking from personal experience, failing has forced me to face my mental weaknesses head on. I’ve experienced mental pain, exhaustion, and depression, but through failure, I’ve survived and what does not kill you only makes you stronger.
When you set goals for yourself (both personal and professional) you will fall on your face eventually, but we all learned to walk that way. You have to get back up after falling. Learning to strengthen your mind and be the best version of yourself is no different.
Keep pushing forward, and don’t forget to keep yourself motivated every step of the way.
6. Expressing Emotions –
Being aware of your emotions is one thing, but expressing emotions openly and rationally is difficult and take a strong mind to do so skillfully.
Business coach and TED Talk alumni, Achim Nowak, describes emotional self-awareness as taking 2 forms.
- Emotional Self-Awareness: We recognize and understand our own emotions.
- Emotional Self-Expression: We openly express our feelings verbally or non-verbally to others.
Mr. Nowak says he often observes that people score high on “emotional self-awareness”, but then score significantly lower on “emotional self-expression”.
Lack of rational emotional expression leaves the outside world with no idea what you’re feeling (whether you’re aware of it or not). But, by increasing your ‘emotional self-expression’, it encourages others around you to feel open, and be free in their communication.
The atmosphere of open self-expression will help foster deeper relationships, deeper levels of communication, and deeper levels of self-awareness.
7. Improving Yourself –
Trying to improve yourself in any capacity takes mental toughness. Improvement at anything usually isn’t easy, and takes dedication, motivation, and repetition. All skills that build mental strength over time.
Being the best version of yourself is not a ‘one-time-fling’, but a lifestyle of radical self-awareness, taking action, and conscious self-improvement.
In order to become the best version of yourself, first you must learn to develop a high level of self-awareness in order to look at yourself objectively.
Then identify your personal strengths, weaknesses, and internal motivations.
Finally, you can start to leverage your strengths to overcome your weaknesses in an effort to reach new heights that you never thought were possible.
8. You Balance Emotions With Logic –
If your emotions control you (and your behavior), then it’s clearly a sign of having a weaker mind than you could have.
As a human, you’ll always have emotions, so stopping them isn’t an option. But, you can learn to control your emotions and balance your emotional response with logical thought.
- Dr. Blanke found that controlling your mind from wandering (which takes practice), and being in the “present-moment”, was the strongest predictor for increased positive emotions.
The more attentive that people from the study reported being, the better they felt overall.
- On the ‘flip side’, practicing mindfulness to become more aware of your environment, with-out “judging” your environment, was the strongest predictor for decreased negative emotions.
For example, observing that the car in front of you just cut 3 people off, with-out judging that the driver is a complete jerk, will allow you to be aware of your negative emotions, accept them, and then let them pass with-out getting upset for the rest of the drive.
9. You Face The Fears That Hold You Back –
I personally over-thinks most everything, and I’ve experienced “fear” holding me back, more often than I care to admit. Fear can make us feel helpless, scared, and vulnerable. But you can’t let it control your life.
Expert psychologists have found that we often over-estimate the ‘risk’ and therefore we overestimate the ‘fear’ associated with that risk.
To escape this ‘false feeling of fear’, try and understand what precisely your fear is based on, and what the actual probability of that fear happing would be?
This will help give you some perspective to weigh the ‘risk vs. reward’ when trying to make a difficult decision.
In order to move forward in life, we must face our fears which will ultimately strengthen our minds.
Fear can prevent you from living your dream, or pursuing your passion. You probably don’t want to look back and think “what if”
Face Your Fears (or someone else will).
10. You Accept Personal Responsibility For Your Choices –
Taking complete ownership and responsibility over the full-state-of-your-life, is a common trait shared among some of the most successful minds on the planet.
I’m far from perfect, but when I started took take full responsibility for everything in my life (even things I didn’t think were my problem) I was able to see new opportunities open up as I began seeing ‘my same old life’ from a new perspective.
Sometimes I fall into the mindset that “life is happening to me”. Where when I take full responsibility, I feel more able to “make life happen for me”.
11. You Engage In Active Problem-Solving –
Weak minds fall into the trap of constantly being the victim of life. Life is always ‘happening to them’.
While strong minds see problems as an opportunity to learn and overcome.
When I used to work as a construction manager, my job was to solve complex construction problems on a daily basis. Often the most complex and devastating problems were my favorite.
I wouldn’t say “poor me” this project is doomed, why does this always happen to me.
Instead, I took these major problems on as an opportunity to test my mental resolve, while remaining calm and triangulating multiple perspectives of both field personnel and engineers to come up with creative solutions.
Ultimately (although it may take time to brainstorm) all problems always have a solution and a way around.
Conclusion: Weak Mind vs. Strong Mind
The biggest difference between a ‘strong mind’ and a ‘weak mind’, is time.
Our brains are always changing, learning, or fortifying themselves if we’re not learning. Even the weakest mind can become the strongest-mind with practice.
The indicators in this article are not absolutes, but just signs or indications. It’s very difficult to judge anyone with-out really knowing them first. Take the signs of having a weak mind in this article with a grain of salt unless multiple signs are clearly present.
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