Mentally Strong Person of the Week: Maffio

Latin GRAMMY Award-Winner Talks Mental Strength, Family, and Mental Health

Maffio is the mentally strong person of the week.

Verywell / Julie Bang

In the “Mentally Strong Person of the Week” series, I’ll share wisdom from some of my favorite guests on my podcast, “Mentally Strong People." I’ll explain the strategies they use to stay mentally strong and then give you my take (as a therapist) on how you can apply these strategies to your own life.

Maffio, whose real name is Carlos Mendoza, is a Latin GRAMMY Award winning music producer, composer, and artist. He’s collaborated with top Latin musicians such as Akon, Nicky Jam, Ozuna, and Anuel. In the fall of 2020, he released his debut album TumbaGobierno


Maffio’s path to success wasn’t an easy one. He grew up in extreme poverty in the Dominican Republic. He endured several losses in his life as well, including the loss of his sister when he was just a teenager.


He didn’t have the chance to earn a high school diploma either. But he dreamed about making it big in the music industry and he committed to working hard to make it happen.

Maffio

If I was going to be a dishwasher, I was going to be the best at it. If I was going to have to clean bathrooms, I was going to be the best at it. I’m going to tie those bags the best and the quickest.

— Maffio

While he’s seen many other people in the music industry get sidelined by mental health issues and addiction, he’s choosing to make mental health a priority. He works hard to manage his anxiety and he decided to stop drinking before it became a problem in his life. 

During our conversation on the Mentally Strong People podcast, Maffio shared many strategies that help him think, feel, and do his best. Here are three of those strategies and my take on how you can apply them to your own life.

Take care of plants as a form of therapy.


Maffio loves growing plants. And he said watering plants gives him a sense of inner peace. And he encourages other people to find simple ways to relax and find joy in life. 

Maffio

The most beautiful things that are really fulfilling and make you complete–they’re free.

— Maffio

My Take

It’s not surprising that Maffio finds taking care of his plants to be therapeutic. Horticulture therapy is a real thing. Being around plants and being in nature is good for your mental health.

Whether you want to grow vegetables or flowers, taking care of plants is a great way to build mental strength. If you don’t have outdoor space to grow a garden, start a patio garden or an indoor herb garden.

Know your values. 


Maffio said he didn’t see his drinking as a problem. But, his wife wasn’t comfortable with it. So he asked himself, “Is what I’m doing in line with the kind of husband and father I want to be?” The answer was "no." So he changed his behavior to become in line with his values. He talked about how acting according to his values and being mentally strong go hand-in-hand. 

Maffio

“You got to train your body and you got to train your mind. Your brain is a muscle that needs to be trained as well."

— Maffio

My Take

As a therapist, I see a lot of people who are struggling because their behavior isn’t in line with their values. Consequently, they feel anxious, depressed, or uneasy about their lives. And it’s not unusual for people who feel that way to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol.


It’s important to know what your values are and to periodically check-in with yourself. Consider whether your habits are helping you feel like you are living an authentic life. Changing the behaviors that aren’t in line with your values can help you feel free.

Hold tough conversations.

Maffio held an honest and direct conversation with his mother about his disapproval of how she disciplined him as a child. He established a clear boundary with her and let her know that she would not be doing the same thing to his children. He said that although the conversation was uncomfortable to have, it was essential to maintaining a good relationship with his mother.

Maffio

We acknowledge it. We move from it. It’s in the past. And we move forward.

— Maffio

My Take

Addressing the “elephant in the room” is important.  If you want a healthier, closer relationship with someone, hold tough conversations. Ignoring problems or pretending your feelings weren’t hurt won’t do you any good. 

It takes strength and courage to speak up but doing so gives you a chance to make deeper connections with people around you. And forming better relationships can help you grow even stronger. 


To hear more of Maffio’s mental strength suggestions, listen to the full episode on my Mentally Strong People podcast. Each week, I’ll share another Mentally Strong Person and explain how their strategies can help you think, feel, and do your best in life.



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