I’m mentally mixed over this “mentally strong” article I’ve seen a few times now.

The author of it’s this psychotherapist who went through hardship (just like the rest of us) and came out of it with fodder for a book that’s made her a lotta money. As the book’s been selling, however, the Cliffs Notes version of it has been circulating through my social media feeds with the top 13 pointers on how to improve your mental fitness. It’s title? “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do.”

Some of them – all of them, really – are good advice at their core. The kind of “duh” advice you know you should be following on the daily, but that’s easy to eschew the moment life’s happenstances and assholes bring their A game into bringing you down. And what does she say that thought-hulks don’t do?

All’a this:

1. They Don’t Waste Time Feeling Sorry for Themselves
Mentally 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 and understand that life isn’t always easy or fair.

2. They Don’t Give Away Their Power
They don’t allow others to control them, and they don’t give someone else power over them. They don’t say things like, “My boss makes me feel bad,” because they understand that they are in control over their own emotions and they have a choice in how they respond.

3. They Don’t Shy Away from Change
Mentally strong people don’t try to avoid change. Instead, they welcome positive change and are willing to be flexible. They understand that change is inevitable and believe in their abilities to adapt.

4. They Don’t Waste Energy on Things They Can’t Control
You won’t hear a mentally strong person complaining over lost luggage or traffic jams. Instead, they focus on what they can control in their lives. They recognize that sometimes, the only thing they can control is their attitude.

5. They Don’t Worry About Pleasing Everyone
Mentally 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 kind and fair, but can handle other people being upset if they didn’t make them happy.

6. They Don’t Fear Taking Calculated Risks
They don’t take reckless or foolish risks, but don’t mind taking calculated risks. Mentally strong people spend time weighing the risks and benefits before making a big decision, and they’re fully informed of the potential downsides before they take action.

7. They Don’t Dwell on the Past
Mentally strong people don’t waste time dwelling on the past and wishing things could be different. They acknowledge their past and can say what they’ve learned from it. However, they don’t constantly relive bad experiences or fantasize about the glory days. Instead, they live for the present and plan for the future.

8. They Don’t Make the Same Mistakes Over and Over
Mentally strong people accept responsibility for their behavior and learn from their past mistakes. As a result, they don’t keep repeating those mistakes over and over. Instead, they move on and make better decisions in the future.

9. They Don’t Resent Other People’s Success
Mentally strong people can appreciate and celebrate other people’s success in life. They don’t grow jealous or feel cheated when others surpass them. Instead, they recognize that success comes with hard work, and they are willing to work hard for their own chance at success.

10. They Don’t Give Up After the First Failure
Mentally strong people don’t view failure as a reason 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.

11. They Don’t Fear Alone Time
Mentally strong people can tolerate being alone and they don’t fear silence. They aren’t afraid to be alone with their thoughts and they can use downtime to be productive. They enjoy their own company and aren’t dependent on others for companionship and entertainment all the time but instead can be happy alone.

12. They Don’t Feel the World Owes Them Anything
Mentally strong people don’t feel entitled to things in life. They weren’t born with a mentality that others would take care of them or that the world must give them something. Instead, they look for opportunities based on their own merits.

13. They Don’t Expect Immediate Results
Whether they are working on improving their health or getting a new business off the ground, mentally strong people don’t expect immediate results. Instead, they apply their skills and time to the best of their ability and understand that real change takes time.

Yes, all very good tips to keep in mind to stay “mentally strong.”

But, then… why do I wish it were sentient so I could bury an axe in its skull? 13 times?

Is it maybe the phrasing? Whenever I hear the word “don’t”, I automatically either “don’t” wanna listen to you anymore, or only listen long enough to do exactly what you’re telling me to avoid. Even when it’s not a command, telling me what other people “don’t” do becomes this exclusive, comparative thing. Like when you’re little and your parents tell you “Julia the honor student down the street would never do that. Try to be more like her.” Similarly, this wording makes it feel as if you’re talking about some abstract group of people just meandering through life and avoiding bad brain habits like they’re cracks in the pavement of existence. What a way to live! Guarded. Holding my breath. Waiting for whatever asteroid of fckkuppery I inadvertently launched yesterday to crash into my world today. Sounds like how I already am now. That, or it comes so naturally to them that they don’t even have to try. Ugh… even worse. Because if that’s the case, I’m nothing like that. If there’s anything good about me, it’s ‘cause I work really hard at it. And that may be the other facet I feel is missing here: the human element. Instead of stopping on a superstitious number, let’s add a 14 that’s like a yes-and to 13: Mentally strong peeps are patient and keep trying when they falter at being “mentally strong”.

Note I avoided saying, “They don’t get down on themselves.”

Makes a difference. Because I’m always open to hearing some good life-hackery.

But I’m already a negative person – that’s why I’m listening to you in the first place. For tips.

So if we’re discussing how to make a negative life positive, why employ negative language to get there?