“You are a completely new person!”
“You are right. I am.” I smiled at her goodbye.
I used to be the shy girl with the eating disorder who always sat alone and thought that people were too shallow to deserve her attention. I used to be the cynical, depressive, anorexic kid no one wanted as a friend.
At the age of 18, my mental illness was so bad I had to drop out of school and pursue private lessons because I couldn’t stand being around people.
So when I bumped into Susan — a former classmate — a few months ago, she was pleasantly surprised to see me doing so well.
I hadn’t seen her in almost 10 years. During this time, I have worked hard on my mental health. I worked on rewriting my story, line after line. And by doing so, I started eradicating those false beliefs that were keeping me stuck, one by one.
Life doesn’t get easier. Time doesn’t make things better. But we can get stronger. And we get stronger as we learn more about life and how to cope with it.
The way you think shapes your reality. Your beliefs inevitably become your life. Some are good and some are just holding you back.
These are the most toxic beliefs that you need to shift if you want to become mentally stronger and healthier. At least, that’s what I have been doing.
1. “I Have To Pick Every Battle Or I’ll Never Win.”
Throughout your life, you will be confronted with people, events, and situations that are at times frustrating, unfair, and even outrageous. You’ll have a right to be angry. You’ll have a right to fight.
However, for the sake of your mental health, you cannot respond to every single affront, injustice, or behavior that bothers you. There’s just too much noise in the world and you don’t have the energy to handle it all.
Decide what and who deserves your attention and let go of the rest. What you give your energy to is what you attract into life. The only time you win at life is when you are at peace with yourself.
2. “I Am Either My Worst Failures Or My Greatest Successes.”
You are not your promotion or the career you have chosen. You are not the opportunity you just missed or the exam you just failed. These are just things that happen to you. While you may have a great deal of control over them, they don’t define you.
You are defined by how you treat others and what you believe in. Your values, the way you make people feel when they are around you, that’s what defines you.
The people who care about you aren’t thinking about your greatest mistakes or achievements when they are around you.
The fact that you got rejected once does not mean you are not worthy of a “yes.” It just means that you have to work harder. The fact that you build a massive social following does not imply that you are a good person. It just means that you are good at social media marketing.
The sooner you understand that, the quicker you can turn your life around.
3. “My Material Success Reflects My Personal Growth.”
Whether it’s possessions, status, physical attractiveness, or social recognition, the world has done a great job of making us believe that we are what others can physically see.
We often assume that massive success comes from massive personal development and that if you are not making millions then you are not playing the game of self-improvement.
The truth is that our personal growth is far deeper than that and you can’t measure it through outside rewards. Our growth is about our willingness to learn, reflect, compare, and make a change in both the way we think and the way we act.
4. “I Am What People Think I Am.”
People’s ideas of you should be taken with a grain of salt because they are constantly shifting and usually filtered through their own beliefs and insecurities.
Often, what people think about you has more to do with themselves than with you. If you think that you are the sum of other people’s opinions of you, you are always going to be afraid of what they would think and you are going to live your life accordingly.
Know this: Somebody’s opinion of you does not define you. Be it good or bad, someone else’s perception of you is not a clear lens you should look at yourself through. It doesn’t matter if they think you can or if they think you can’t. What matters is what you believe.
You don’t get in life what other people think of you. You get what you are and what you believe.
5. “If I’m Not Better Than Them, I’m Not Good Enough.”
You don’t have to be in the top 1% of your industry to be good enough. You don’t have to sell more than your competitors to be successful.
What you really need to do is to decide what’s good enough for you. You get to decide your standards and your self-worth—no one else. Someone else’s light is not your darkness.
Somebody’s success, happiness, attractiveness, or recognition does not mean the absence of yours. You don’t have to be the best or better than them. You just have to be willing to be the best you can be, regardless of others’ status, so you can be proud of yourself.
There’s no point in comparing someone’s last chapter to your first one.
6. “The Outside World Decides My Future.”
When we think that our environment has the power to control and dictate our path in life, we fear failure and we reject change because we are too afraid of what could go wrong.
We convince ourselves that the world decided our path for us and all we can do is to keep up with the highs and lows of life. But it doesn’t have to be like this.
By becoming more present and self-aware, we recognize that even if the future bends in a direction we didn’t anticipate, we always have control over the final destination.
No matter what life throws at us, we can always choose our attitude, we can always adapt, and we can always learn. It’s not about what the world gives us. It’s about what we do with it.