11 unique traits of genuinely strong men, according to psychology

What makes a man truly strong?

Is it his muscles, his patience, his ability to handle his emotions? 

Psychology provides valuable insights into how to assess the key traits of a man who’s got true grit. 

There are a number of crucial personality traits and behavioral decisions that set a truly strong man apart and make him next-level strong and full of fortitude. 

Let’s jump in and take a look!

1) He’s emotionally intelligent

No amount of muscle, determination and fortitude can make up for a man who doesn’t understand or know how to deal with emotions. 

The truly strong man is emotionally intelligent:

He’s able to understand and manage his own emotions and work with those of others as well. 

He’s also able to face trauma and disappointment in his past and see how it can be addressed and understood in such a way that it doesn’t continue coloring and distorting his present. 

“They can recognize and deal with emotionally distressing events in their past, as well as recognize that their past may be affecting their current functioning,” observes psychotherapist Tracy S. Hutchinson, PhD.

2) He’s aware of his strengths but doesn’t boast

The truly strong man has a high degree of self-awareness. He’s knowledgeable about his shortcomings as well as his skills. 

He knows where he’s the best of the best and he’s aware of the areas where he’s exceptionally talented or smart. 

But he doesn’t boast about those talents or try to show off:

He lets his competence and knowledge speak for itself and tries his best to have it make a positive impact on those around him. 

He’s much more interested in truly being something honorable and admirable than in getting people to honor or admire him. 

3) He’s mentally, physically and emotionally resilient 

Physical strength is an important aspect of a man’s grit, and a certain level of fitness and discipline in his physical well-being does matter. 

It shows that he has psychological fortitude when it comes to working on himself and improving his body. 

His mental and emotional resilience are also crucial indicators of deep-level strength. 

This means that rather than being a man who is a passive recipient of life’s ups and downs, he actively shapes and influences his life, adapting to his circumstances. 

As psychologist Steven C. Hayes, PhD. writes:

“Mentally strong people adapt to their circumstances. They don’t wait for the perfect conditions before they can start taking action, nor do they stubbornly persist in their efforts, disregarding any feedback. Instead, they are more resourceful.”

4) He’s honest and moral even when nobody’s looking

It takes psychological strength to hold to a code of honor and ethics even when nobody’s looking. 

Even for religious and spiritual men, there are often excuses or “repentance” which can be made to say sorry after the fact. 

But the truly strong man isn’t looking to cut corners and then be sad about it later. 

Even if nobody’s looking, he does his best to live up to his own moral code

This is crucial when it comes to things like being honest with other people and being honest with himself. Even where a lie might make his life easier in the short-term, he declines and takes the path of authenticity instead. 

5) He takes responsibility for his actions

If and when he does fall short of the mark, a genuinely strong man will own up to his mistakes. 

Even prior to that, he will stand behind his decisions and hold himself accountable

If his boss at work asks “who came up with this risky project idea?” he will step forward and boldly raise his hand without deferring responsibility or using weasel words like “kinda” and “sort of.”

He owns up for what he does and stands behind who he is and what he decides, while so many others look to deflect, hide or genuflect.

Hutchinson puts it well:

“They take responsibility for their actions and the effects of their decisions. They don’t ignore hurts or pains that occur as a result, and they don’t adopt a ‘victim’ role by blaming others for problems they cause themselves.”

6) He empathizes with those who are struggling

someone has selective empathy 1 11 unique traits of genuinely strong men, according to psychology

Going through life in a selfish and egotistical way doesn’t take strength:

Psychology observes that real strength is about empathy and about realizing one’s place in the universe is an interrelation, not a one-man show. That’s why the genuinely strong man is a man who can empathize

He’s not putting on a show about being a “good person” or being generous or any other label:

He just genuinely does care about others who are struggling and is willing to help out if he can. 

Those who are playing the victim or codependent he has no time for, but when it comes to real struggles and pain that many go through, he does what he can to be there. 

7) He’s self-disciplined and exercises self-control

If self-discipline were common, the world would be a much better and more loving and healthy place. 

But self-control and self-discipline are hard as hell. 

That’s why the psychological mark of a truly strong man is that he has a remarkable degree of self-discipline. 

He’s able to delay gratification and keep himself on a consistent routine towards achieving his goals. 

When he faces challenges, he uses them to hone his character and make a series of small choices that set him up for further success and growth. 

“When we face a challenge, we reveal our character—what we are made of,” notes psychology writer John-Manuel Andriote. 

“These micro-choices altogether comprise the big choice of who we want to be, the person we present to the world. Strong character, resilience, authenticity, and genuine self-esteem go hand in hand.”

This ties into the next point:

8) He’s patient and works toward long-term goals 

The man of true strength is self-disciplined and able to delay gratification in pursuit of his long-term goals. 

Whereas the cliche of a strong man being stoic and not reacting to pain and setbacks is popular among some, it’s far less meaningful than long-term behavior. 

In reality, how a man reacts right when something happens is much less important than how he reacts in the long-term. 

That’s why his attitude to setbacks when they happen is less important to his overall routine and adaptation in the long-term as he mounts a comeback. 

“Emotional strength has little to do with stoicism and even less to do with any momentary reaction,” points out psychologist Guy Winch, PhD. 

“Rather, emotional strength is something that can only be assessed over time.”

9) He adapts to unexpected and unwanted changes

There’s one guarantee in life and that is that change is going to happen no matter what. The truly strong man is not isolated into one small category in terms of how he should be or how he defines himself: 

Instead, he adapts and shifts with life as necessary and acts and conducts himself in a way that makes sense with the situation. 

When life hits him with a curveball, he’s ready and already waiting for the next pitch. 

“Mentally strong people don’t stay on a single-loop track,” notes Hayes. 

“They are rarely limited by preconceived notions about how they have to think, feel, or act, who they have to be, what they have to focus on, or what they have to care about.”

10) He’s assertive and direct (without being a bully)

The genuinely strong man is assertive and direct, but he is still very much respectful. 

He can stand up for himself and for others when they’re being pushed around, and he doesn’t let anybody act in an aggressive or rude way.

But he himself also minds his own behavior:

While he’s assertive, strong and direct in how he communicates and acts, he’s never threatening or passive aggressive. 

He says what he means and means what he says, and this gains him respect wherever he goes. 

11) He uses failure as fuel 

The genuinely strong man uses failure as fuel. 

He understands that every journey has many bumps along the way and that his mission and passions in life have no guarantee of being outwardly satisfied. 

When he fails, he readjusts, doing his best to still stay true to his core principles and end goal. 

He’s not looking for validation or approval from the outer world, because he’s true to himself and his code of honor and he values the path he’s on and the progress he’s making. 

“Each bump in the road tests our character, measures how well we choose, gauges the degree to which we live out our ethics and morality, and shows what we’re made of,” explains Andriote. 

Picture of Paul Brian

Paul Brian

Paul R. Brian is a freelance journalist and writer who has reported from around the world, focusing on religion, culture and geopolitics. Follow him on www.twitter.com/paulrbrian and visit his website at www.paulrbrian.com

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