Establish healthy ways to deal with uncomfortable emotions. Look for coping skills that are good for you over the long-term (ones that will help regulate your emotions now without wreaking havoc on your health, relationships, or tasks in the long-term). Keep in mind that what works for one person won’t necessarily work for you so you need to find what helps you deal with your emotions best.Experiment with various coping skills to find out what works for you; deep breathing, exercising, meditating, reading, coloring, and spending time in nature are just a few of the strategies that could help.
In this interview series, we are exploring the subject of resilience among successful business leaders. Resilience is one characteristic that many successful leaders share in common, and in many cases it is the most important trait necessary to survive and thrive in today’s complex market.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Amy Morin, LCSW, Editor-in-Chief, Verywell.
Amy Morin, LCSW has worked at Verywell since 2012. Prior to becoming the editor-in-chief, she served as writer and a medical review board member.
She began working as a psychotherapist in 2002. As a licensed clinical social worker, she helped children, teens, and adults build the mental strength they needed to reach their greatest potential.
Amy is an international bestselling author. Her books, 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, 13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do, and 13 Things Mentally Strong Women Don’t Do are translated into more than 40 languages. Her fourth book, 13 Things Strong Kids Do, goes on sale in 2021.
She’s also the host of the Mentally Strong People podcast, where she introduces listeners to mental strength building strategies that can help them think, feel, and do their best in life.
She frequently delivers keynote speeches on mental strength. Some of the organizations who have hired her to speak include Google, Microsoft, The National Nuclear Security Administration, The American Academy of Pediatrics, Under Armour, and Johnson & Johnson.
Amy has been quoted or mentioned in many major online and print publications, including Time, Fast Company, Forbes, US News & World Report, Oprah.com, Men’s Health, and Money. She’s also appeared on-camera for interviews with Inside Edition, Good Day New York, Inc., CNBC, Fox Business, and Good Morning America.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?
I’m a psychotherapist who became an “accidental author.”
About a year into my work as a therapist, my mom passed away unexpectedly. And it inspired me to learn even more about mental strength.
As I studied the people in my therapy office, I noticed that some people went through tough times and grew stronger. Other people went through tough times and felt stuck. What separated these people wasn’t necessarily what they did, it was more about what they didn’t do.
I’m glad I learned that because three years to the day after my mom passed away, my 26-year-old husband died of a heart attack.
And I had to rebuild my life without the two most important people in it.
A few years later, I wrote the list of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do when my father-in-law was diagnosed with terminal cancer. It was a letter to myself to avoid those unhealthy habits that could keep me stuck.
I posted it online hoping it would help someone else. The article went viral — 50 million people read it. And I landed a book deal.
Since then, I’ve written three more books, created the Mentally Strong People podcast, and began working as the Editor-in-Chief at Verywell Mind.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
I was giving a talk a few years ago and someone in the audience came up to me after and said, “I can’t wait to tell everyone in my class I got to meet you in person. Your book is on our recommended reading list for students.” I asked her where she went to college and she named the school that had rejected me.
Just a few years earlier they turned me down for grad school. Now, my book was on their recommended reading list.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Verywell Mind, where I serve as Editor-in-Chief, offers the most reliable information on the internet for health and well-being. The content gives useful, realistic advice.
I was giving a talk a few years ago for a group of parents in Chicago. During the question and answer period, a parent stood up and said, “My 4-year-old recently started using baby talk again. My wife was really concerned about it. We searched online and found an article you’d written for Verywell and it was just what we needed to know. Your strategies worked.”
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
My mom was always very supportive of me. When I was young, I hated school. But she always wrote me really encouraging notes in my lunchbox every day. Those notes (some of which I still have) still serve as great reminders to do hard things and to not believe everything I think.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
Resilience refers to our ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.
I talk more about mental strength than resilience. Mental strength can also be a key component to getting through tough times, it’s not something that should be reserved for hardship. Big mental muscles can help you when life is going well, also.
You might think of resilience as a defensive strategy; it helps you get back up after you’ve been pushed down. Mental strength is more like an offensive strategy. It might prevent you from getting knocked down in the first place.
When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
I know a lot of mentally strong people but one of the most recent people I interviewed for my podcast is Ally Brooke. She’s a musician who was in the music group 5th Harmony. She has endured a fair amount of setbacks and tough times, but she makes it known that she’s determined to turn her struggles into opportunities to grow stronger.
Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?
Last year I met a fitness trainer who is known for getting celebrities in shape fast — like when they have to look good for a movie. He had helped several men get 6-pack abs in 28 days. I wanted to know if a woman could do it too. A lot of people told me it wasn’t possible. But by the 28th day, I had 6 pack abs. It was a lot of hard work but it was possible. Even when we shared the before and after photos, however, some people questioned us. But, we didn’t alter the pictures at all. It was all real.
Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?
When I was working as a therapist, I felt myself starting to get a little burned out. Around the same time the company I worked for had some part-time openings in their medical review department. I applied for the job hoping I could balance seeing patients with doing more behind-the-scenes work. I got turned down for the position.
So I started doing more freelance writing and within a few months I was able to cut back on my therapy hours and became a part-time writer. That eventually led to my viral article and a book deal.
Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?
All the tough times in my life have certainly helped me be more resilient. I used to be afraid of public speaking for example. But, once I gave the eulogy at my husband’s funeral, I was able to put public speaking fears into proper perspective. It’s not really all that bad to talk in front of a group of people under good circumstances.
Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.
Here are five ways someone can become mentally stronger:
- Label your emotions. Putting a name to your feelings decreases their intensity. So whether you’re feeling sad, anxious, angry, or scared, acknowledge it — at least to yourself.
- Establish healthy ways to deal with uncomfortable emotions. Look for coping skills that are good for you over the long-term (ones that will help regulate your emotions now without wreaking havoc on your health, relationships, or tasks in the long-term). Keep in mind that what works for one person won’t necessarily work for you so you need to find what helps you deal with your emotions best.Experiment with various coping skills to find out what works for you; deep breathing, exercising, meditating, reading, coloring, and spending time in nature are just a few of the strategies that could help.
- Identify and replace unhealthy thought patterns. The way you think affects how you feel and how you behave. Thinking things like, “I can’t stand this,” or “I’m such an idiot,” robs you of mental strength.Respond to unproductive and irrational thoughts with something more helpful. So instead of saying, “I’m going to mess this up,” remind yourself, “This is my chance to shine and I’m going to do my best.” Changing those conversations you have with yourself can be the most instrumental thing you could do to change your life.
- Take positive action. The best way to train your brain to think differently is by changing your behavior. Do hard things — and keep doing them even when you think you can’t. You’ll prove to yourself that you’re stronger than you think. Establish healthy daily habits as well. Practice gratitude, exercise, get plenty of sleep, and eat a healthy diet so your brain and your body can be at their best.
- Give up the bad habits that rob you of mental muscle. All the good habits in the world won’t be effective if you’re performing them right alongside your unhealthy habits. It’s like eating donuts while you’re running on a treadmill. Pay attention to your bad habits that rob you of mental strength (we all have them). Whether you feel sorry for yourself or you resent other people’s success, it only takes one or two to keep you stuck in life.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I’d love to see people just do just one random act of kindness every day. Kindness can be contagious and I think it would spread far and wide.
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂
I appreciate Mel Robbins’ work. She is humble, authentic and brave in her books and on social media. I would love to talk to her about mental strength.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
@amymorinauthor on Instagram and Twitter. Don’t forget to give @verywell a follow too!
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!