5 factors that can make some people mentally stronger than others

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  • Amy Morin is a psychotherapist, licensed clinical social worker, mental strength coach, and international bestselling author.
  • Through her work as a therapist as well as the recent launch of her podcast called "Mentally Strong People," Morin says she's met many mentally disciplined and resilient people and analyzed what sets them apart.
  • Life experiences, personality traits, and even genetics can affect someone's natural inclination towards mental strength, Morin explains.
  • Still, anyone can build up their mental strength through consistent, intentional effort.
  • If you're struggling, call the SAMHSA National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), or reach out to the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

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

Interviewing people who are good at managing their emotions, reframing their negative thoughts, and taking positive action has taught me a lot about mental strength. I've learned which mental strength exercises help people the most — as well as the bad habits that tend to drain people of mental strength.

I've also discovered that everyone has the ability to grow mentally stronger. And while the size of someone's mental muscle depends mostly on the work they put into growing stronger, some people have a natural advantage or two. Here's why some people are mentally stronger than others.

1. Genetics

Mental strength is similar to physical strength — some people are born with a genetic advantage while others have illnesses or issues that can be a disadvantage. 

You can't help it if you are genetically more susceptible to ADHD, anxiety, or depression.

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 when you're combating an illness can feel like an uphill battle.

Mentally strong people know how to use their genetics to their advantage. But, the good news is, those of us who weren't born with genetics on our side can still work on becoming the best versions of ourselves. 

2. Life experiences

Your experiences — especially your childhood experiences — 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 matters.

Imagine siblings experiencing a rough childhood. One may grow up to develop self-esteem issues as they believe the difficulties they experienced left them scarred and fragile. The other might grow up to be confident because they believe if they can survive a bad childhood, they can get through anything.

So it's important to consider how your life experiences have shaped you. While you can't change what happened, you can change how those encounters affect you.

Mentally strong people learn lessons that help them grow stronger and become better. They work on gaining new perspectives, expanding their mindsets, and shifting their outlook when necessary.

3. Personality

Some individuals are fortunate to have personalities that attract healthy, positive attention. And this can lead to great opportunities, a healthy outlook on life, and healthy relationships.

Other people have less award-winning charisma and fewer likable traits. Those things may add a few extra layers of difficulty to building mental strength as your interactions with other people affect your ability to build mental muscle.

But there's no evidence that "extroverts have the advantage" or anything like that. In fact, the true advantage is self-awareness.

Mentally strong people recognize their strengths and weaknesses so they can use their personalities in a way that helps them reach their full potential.

4. Environment

Sometimes people mistakenly believe if you're mentally strong, you should be able to endure anything. But that's not true.

Your environment is a major factor 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.

5. 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.

And they've experimented with enough coping skills and lifestyle changes to determine what works best for them. Just like there isn't a one-size-fits-all workout, self-improvement strategies should also be customized. What works for one person might not be as effective for you.

Mentally strong people perform specific exercises (like 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.

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