11 clear signs your mental toughness sets you apart

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There’s no denying how valuable mental strength is to not only our well-being but also our success.

In the world of sports, 83% of coaches say mental toughness is the most important quality someone can possess.

Whether you sink or swim usually comes down to how well you can handle the pressures life throws at you.

So how does your confidence and resistance stack up when the going gets tough?

Here are 11 clear signs your mental toughness sets you apart. 

1) When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade

Most of us have learned by now that life isn’t fair.

Sometimes the only choice we have is to accept the hand that fate has dealt and try to make the best of it.

People who are mentally tough do just that.

Rather than waste precious time and energy feeling sorry for yourself, you prefer to focus on what you can control.

That may mean looking for opportunities in tricky situations you find yourself in.

It’s about learning to look on the bright side by learning lessons for the future.

Or it may be as simple as acknowledging something is the way it is and moving on rather than self-perpetuating your suffering.

A lot of your ability to do this may come down to the next thing on our list.

2) You’re no stranger to stress, but you deal with it

There aren’t many people who get to live an entirely charmed life.

Besides, even when life looks good from the outside, happiness is always relative. That means there will always be something that brings pain and suffering.

It seems everyday stress is just a part of life. But how badly it affects you can come down to your mental strength.

Because the toughest have developed coping strategies to tackle their anxiety and stress.

Maybe it’s meditation, exercise, breathwork, mindfulness, journaling, spending time in nature, or one of many other stress busters out there.

The key is, that you’ve taken it upon yourself to discover what works for you to release tension.

This helps you to perform and keep focus, even under pressure.

It also shows that you are proactive. You do things that are good for you for the sake of your well-being.

That says a lot about your levels of self-responsibility, which brings me nicely to the next sign…

3) You take radical responsibility for your life

That’s rare.

So many people go around looking for excuses. They prefer to blame the world when something goes wrong.

They put their bad mood on the way that someone else spoke to them. They attribute their lack of success to a system that’s rigged against them.

Don’t get me wrong, bad things happen and other people can act like jerks. And as we’ve just established in the point above, life’s far from fair.

But whilst victims focus on the injustices all around them, empowered people prefer to roll up their sleeves and get to work.

They believe that they are ultimately responsible for their own lives.

That means how they feel, think, and behave is down to them, and them alone.

If you don’t feel the need to make excuses in life, that’s because you are mentally tough enough to shoulder the burden of self-responsibility.

4) Fear doesn’t factor into your decision-making

No matter how courageous we are in life, we’re never getting rid of fear completely.

We don’t need to either. It’s actually a biological drive in us that is designed to keep us safe.

Without any sense of fear, people tend to be reckless or plain stupid— neither of which are a good look.

Fear is unavoidable but it doesn’t have to the in the driving seat.

Noticing when it shows up can be enough to keep it in check. If you can see the role that fear takes in your life, you’re one step ahead of the curse.

That way you are given a very important opportunity:

You can question that fear instead of accepting it.

When you do so, you can see where it holds you back or tempts you to act in illogical ways that are against your best interest.

Most growth involves stepping outside your comfort zone. To do this, you can’t let fear be the deciding factor in your decision-making process.

In short:

You’re able to feel the fear but move past it.

5) You can be stubborn as a mule when pursuing your goals

Good for you. You’ll need it.

We often look around at those who’ve made it with envy. We like to believe that they are the “lucky” ones. 

 Sure, a handful did win the life lottery or were in the right place at the right time.

But often it’s a different story. Their success is because they were prepared to put in the work.

Behind every success story are countless failures that they first needed to overcome.

That doesn’t mean giving it a half-assed shot and then shrugging it off when it doesn’t happen.

It means showing tenacity and perseverance in the face of setbacks and knocks.

After all, the ones who win are the ones who didn’t give up at the first hurdle.

6) You have a seemingly endless source of patience

We can think of patience as a bit of a meek trait.

It may even seem at odds with mental toughness. But far from it.

All that willpower we just mentioned above often relies on an endless supply of patience.

Not just with others or the world around you, but with yourself too.

Patience is the secret sauce that gives us staying power.

Life doesn’t deliver things in an instant. It takes time.

It takes time to build success. It takes time for wounds to heal. It takes time to learn and grow.

If you can appreciate that, then you’re more likely to stay calm and focused in challenging situations.

7) Far from being put off by a challenge, you actively seek them

I’ll admit that all too often, I’ll do anything for an easy life.

It’s tempting to give in when the going gets tough. I can’t help but notice that the activities I enjoy doing most in life are the ones that I have a natural gift for.

I think that’s quite common. We do gravitate towards the things that we can excel at without too much effort.

But not everyone thinks like this.

Some people purposely do things because of the difficulty involved.

It feels extra rewarding to succeed at something we’ve had to work for. Perhaps you feel this way.

If so, rather than run from a challenge, you probably get even more of a kick out of it because it feels harder to achieve.

8) You know you’re not perfect but you wholeheartedly believe in yourself

Confidence that gives the most strength has a unique quality to it:

It rests on healthy self-esteem which brings bags of self-belief. But it never spills over into blind arrogance.

That’s significant because it means you can back yourself without being ignorant of your own faults and failings.

Mentally tough people are on their own side in life, but not to the point of naivety.

They engage in positive self-talk to encourage and motivate themselves along the way. But they also get real about the self-development they still need to do.

They can objectively evaluate their strengths, skills, and talents as well as understand their weaknesses.

It takes a lot of self-love and self-understanding to get to know yourself fully. That always involves embracing your shadow side rather than trying to ignore it.

9) You can accept your flaws and you want to work on them

How graciously can you accept feedback?

How defensive do you get during a discussion?

The answers to these sorts of questions reveal a lot about the level of your mental toughness.

People with fragile egos tend to have a hard time with criticism. They take a difference of opinion as a personal attack.

When you are mentally strong, you have a different approach.

You use these things as a chance to expand your knowledge and understanding.

10) You don’t spew your negative emotions all over other people

Our feelings can be powerful, and sometimes they do get the better of us all.

But generally, you are skilled at regulating your emotions.

That means you’re far less likely to:

  • Fly off into a rage
  • Lose your temper when talking to people
  • Behave inappropriately

It’s not about repressing our emotions or totally keeping a lid on them.

It’s more about better understanding them so that we can express ourselves in constructive, healthy, and reasonable ways.

But that shouldn’t be mistaken for denial or developing a hard shell. 

11) You are vulnerable enough to express what you need and want in life

There is an emotional softness to mental toughness that can feel like a paradox. But ironically it’s actually those who act the toughest that are usually just putting on a front.

It’s a defense mechanism that genuinely mentally strong people don’t need.

In contrast, they are strong and sure enough to show vulnerability. And in the words of researcher and author Brene Brown:

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.”

To speak your truth in life, regardless of how it may be received takes real guts.

Being honest, even when someone may not feel the same is bold, and hence takes power.

Lost Your Sense of Purpose?

In this age of information overload and pressure to meet others’ expectations, many struggle to connect with their core purpose and values. It’s easy to lose your inner compass.

Jeanette Brown created this free values discovery PDF to help clarify your deepest motivations and beliefs. As an experienced life coach and self-improvement teacher, Jeanette guides people through major transitions by realigning them with their principles.

Her uniquely insightful values exercises will illuminate what inspires you, what you stand for, and how you aim to operate. This serves as a refreshing filter to tune out societal noise so you can make choices rooted in what matters most to you.

With your values clearly anchored, you’ll gain direction, motivation and the compass to navigate decisions from your best self – rather than fleeting emotion or outside influences.

Stop drifting without purpose. Rediscover what makes you come alive with Jeanette Brown’s values clarity guide.

 

Ava Sinclair

Ava Sinclair is a former competitive athlete who transitioned into the world of wellness and mindfulness. Her journey through the highs and lows of competitive sports has given her a unique perspective on resilience and mental toughness. Ava’s writing reflects her belief in the power of small, daily habits to create lasting change.

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