11 signs someone is a mentally tough person

Ever notice that everybody seems so upset all the time these days?

We are all supposed to be offended, as though the act of being offended gives us some special rights over others. And everyone of every political persuasion seems ready to weaponize their feelings to try and get other people to behave how they want them to.

Maybe we could all benefit from cultivating a little more mental toughness.

Mental toughness is what allows you to face life head on and deal with the adversity we all face from time to time. It also helps you to not take things personally.

Mental toughness allows you to survive the various hardships that are part and parcel of what it means to be human and come out on the other side, having learned the lessons misfortune has to teach us.

Some people seem to be born with a certain amount of mental resilience. But more often, mental toughness is cultivated through suffering.

And there are some signs that will show you someone who has suffered enough to develop this kind of resilience.

Here’s what to look out for:

1) They are logical

We all think of ourselves as logical people. But actually, most of us prioritize our emotions when making decisions.

We decide what we want, and then we use our logical brains to justify the decision we’ve already made.

But mentally tough people are different. They know that usually, the best way to make a decision is to keep emotion out of it.

So instead of doing what feels good in the moment, they will look for all the evidence that can help them make the best decision for the long term.

That’s because mentally tough people have the strength to resist even their own minds. Their toughness lets them put emotion aside and focus on the facts.

2) They embrace the suck

‘Embrace the suck’ is an expression with its origins in the US military. Essentially, it means embracing the fact that your situation in life is almost never exactly as you would want it.

Things are always going to suck sometimes. Embracing that fact helps you to move past it and achieve your goals.

“This is one of my personal favorite expressions,” wrote retired Army Officer Guy McCardle. “I’ve told more than one soldier more than one time to ‘embrace the suck.’ I’ve run the phrase over and over in my head innumerable times to help me keep driving on through tough situations.”

3) They focus on productive behavior

Mental toughness can have a powerful effect on the trajectory of your life.

That’s because mentally tough people are hard enough on themselves to insist on only productive behavior.

When things go wrong, they don’t take the path of wallowing in disappointment or turning to distractions like alcohol or drugs.

And even when things are good, they have the mental toughness to do difficult things that will pay dividends in the long run.

That means going to the gym instead of going to a party. It means eating healthy and nourishing food instead of junk. It means reading and developing their minds instead of watching mindless TV.

These can all be tough choices. So it’s a sure sign of mental toughness if someone consistently chooses the difficult, useful thing over the easy, harmful ones.

4) They control their emotions

Emotional control is another common sign of someone with real mental toughness.

The thing is, mentally tough people have exactly the same range of emotions as the rest of us. The difference is, they don’t give into them.

They have learned, often the hard way, that emotions can be our worst enemy.

“Emotional regulation acts as a modifier; it helps us filter the most important pieces of information and motivates us to attend to it in a way that wouldn’t evoke stress or fear,” writes psychiatrist Madhuleena Roy Chowdhury.

So instead of getting caught up in their feelings, mentally tough people focus on making the right choice.

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5) They are confident

As I mentioned earlier, mental resilience often comes as a result of facing hardship. It’s a tough path to walk, but it can often leave people with a far higher level of self-belief and confidence.

It makes sense when you think about it. When you know you’ve been through a lot, you have greater confidence in your ability to withstand the hardships of life.

People with mental resilience know that they are survivors. And they aren’t afraid of hard times, knowing that they’ve been through them before.

6) They don’t let fear hold them back

One of the best things about confidence is that it allows you to pursue goals that other people wouldn’t dare attempt.

And people with mental toughness are often more willing than most to go after big dreams.

That’s because they know how strong they are. They know that even if things go wrong, they will be able to make the best of any situation.

These are people who may start a new business, move to another country, or take a big chance for their dream career. If you know someone like that, it’s probably because they are very mentally strong.

7) They accept themselves

At the same time, there’s a huge difference between confidence and arrogance.

Often, mental strength comes from understanding yourself extremely well. It comes from analyzing your own thoughts and emotions and understanding not only what you are strong, but also where you are weakest.

That means people with mental strength are well aware of their flaws. They accept themselves as the imperfect people they are, knowing that all anyone can do is try to be a better version of themselves each day.

8) They learn from mistakes

And because mentally strong people accept their flaws, they are also better able to learn from their mistakes.

Week people learn nothing from mistakes. Often, they will try to pretend that they didn’t make a mistake, that what went wrong with somebody else’s fault. This refusal to take responsibility means that they never learn from things going wrong.

Mentally strong people do. They use mistakes as the building blocks of future growth instead of seeing them as a blow to the ego.

9) They accept others

Because mentally tough people have learned how to accept themselves, they are also great at accepting others.

When you understand that we are all flawed people doing our best, it becomes almost impossible to be judgmental or prejudiced.

Plus, mentally tough people don’t need approval or validation from others to feed their sense of self-worth.

That means they aren’t as tied into group identities as others who lack their strength, and are more likely to be accepting of people outside of any group.

10) They live authentically

To live authentically means to be true to yourself. To live according to your own values and desires, instead of the ones society seeks to impose on you.

It requires a good level of mental toughness to do that. To rely on yourself and go against the grain, even when other people tell you it’s a bad idea.

That’s why you’ll often find that mentally tough people live lives that are true to themselves. They aren’t looking to please anyone else with the decisions they make. They are just trying to live their own best life.

11) They are independent

Ultimately, mentally tough people are highly independent.

Because they get their sense of self-worth from their own opinions of themselves, they can operate very well on their own. They don’t seek approval from others, and they don’t particularly care about any criticism they receive, either.

That doesn’t mean they don’t care about other people at all. Quite the opposite. Mentally tough people often extremely compassionate, open-minded, and accepting.

But they don’t need others to like them. Their sense of self-worth doesn’t depend on acceptance from other people.

Signs of mental toughness

It’s not always immediately obvious to see who has real mental toughness. But the way person lives their life can tell you a lot about what’s going on inside their head.

Keep an eye out for these signs of mental toughness. If you know someone who lives like this, it’s probably because they have a very strong mind.

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Clifton Kopp

Welcome to my writings on Ideapod! I'm a bit of a "polymath" in that I like writing about many different things. Often I'm learning from the process of writing. I hope you enjoy, and please leave a comment on one of my articles.

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