7 non-obvious signs of a mentally tough woman, according to psychology

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Being mentally tough isn’t all about physical strength or dominance. It’s a complex blend of attitudes and behaviors that often goes unnoticed.

Psychological toughness, especially in women, is often underappreciated.

However, it’s what gives them the ability to persevere through challenges and bounce back from failure.

In this piece, we’ll explore 7 non-obvious signs of a mentally tough woman.

These are not your run-of-the-mill signs, but rather subtle cues that might just surprise you.

So, let’s get started.

1) Quiet confidence

When it comes to mental toughness, showboating isn’t the name of the game.

Many might think the loudest person in the room is the strongest. But that’s not necessarily the case.

You see, mental toughness often presents itself quietly. It’s not about drawing attention, but about having an inner confidence that doesn’t require validation from others.

A mentally tough woman isn’t afraid to stand her ground, but she does so with grace and calmness.

She doesn’t need to prove herself to anyone because she knows her worth.

In essence, this quiet confidence is a powerful sign of mental toughness that often goes unnoticed, and it’s a key trait to look out for.

2) Resilience in the face of failure

Here’s the thing about failure: it’s a universal experience.

We all stumble, we all fall. But how do we react to it?

Now, that’s where the difference lies.

Take me, for instance. I remember a time in my early career when I was overlooked for a promotion I had been working tirelessly towards.

Let’s be honest, it was a hard pill to swallow.

But instead of letting it break me, I decided to use it as a learning opportunity. I sought feedback, worked on improving my skills, and came back stronger.

The next time an opportunity arose, I was ready and seized it.

This resilience is a common trait among mentally tough women. They bounce back, learn from their experiences, and keep going.

Failure doesn’t define them; their response to it does.

3) Embraces discomfort

Stepping outside of your comfort zone is tough.

It’s a place where we feel secure and confident, but it’s also a place that limits growth.

The women we’re talking about understand this paradox.

They know that to grow and progress, they need to embrace discomfort so they willingly put themselves in challenging situations to learn and develop.

According to psychology, this willingness to be in uncomfortable situations activates the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory – the hippocampus.

And guess what?

The more it’s activated, the better we become at adapting to new situations and overcoming adversity.

So don’t shy away from discomfort.

Embrace it. It’s a clear sign of mental toughness and a crucial step towards personal growth and success.

4) Sets healthy boundaries

It’s easy to misconstrue being mentally tough with being a pushover. Quite the contrary, mentally tough women are experts at setting healthy boundaries.

They understand the value of their time and energy, and they’re not afraid to say ‘no’ when the situation calls for it.

These women don’t overcommit, and neither do they let others take advantage of their kindness.

Now, setting boundaries isn’t about being selfish or rigid. It’s about recognizing one’s own needs and respecting them. It’s about understanding that it’s okay to put oneself first sometimes.

Mentally tough women know this, and they aren’t afraid to enforce their boundaries, even if it might disappoint others.

This is a sign of self-respect and emotional intelligence, both key components of mental toughness.

5) Holds onto optimism

Life isn’t always rainbows and unicorns.

We all face tough times, and it can be easy to lose hope during these moments.

I remember when my mother fell seriously ill. It was a dark time, filled with uncertainty and fear. But amidst all the chaos, I held onto hope.

I chose to believe in her recovery, in the strength of our family, and in the support of our friends.

That’s something you’ll find in mentally tough women: an unwavering sense of optimism.

Even in the bleakest situations, they manage to find a glimmer of hope.

But here’s the thing, they understand that optimism isn’t about ignoring reality but about holding onto the belief that things can improve.

It’s this positive outlook that gives them the strength to keep going, no matter how hard things get. Their optimism is their shield, protecting them from despair and guiding them toward resilience.

6) Practices self-care

We often associate mental toughness with relentless drive and endless productivity. But a key aspect that we often overlook is the importance of self-care.

Mentally tough women understand that to be their best, they need to feel their best.


They recognize that taking care of their physical, emotional, and mental well-being isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity.

They carve out time for exercise, ensure they’re eating nourishing food, and prioritize sleep. They also focus on their emotional health, practicing mindfulness and keeping stress at bay.

Self-care isn’t a sign of weakness. 

It’s a strategy for strength. It’s about maintaining balance and ensuring you’re in the best possible shape to face whatever comes your way.

7) Embraces vulnerability

Lastly, contrary to popular belief and like the previous sign, vulnerability isn’t a sign of weakness.

Mentally tough women aren’t afraid to show their vulnerable side.

They understand that it’s okay to not have all the answers, to ask for help, and to admit when they’re wrong.

In other words, vulnerability means being brave enough to face your fears and uncertainties. It means having the courage to be yourself, in all your messy, imperfect glory.

It’s about being comfortable in your own skin and accepting yourself, flaws and all.

And that’s perhaps the most powerful sign of a mentally tough woman.

Final thoughts

Mental toughness is not about physical strength, nor is it about being impervious to emotions or challenges. It’s a nuanced blend of resilience, confidence, and emotional intelligence.

It’s about embracing vulnerability, setting healthy boundaries, and practicing self-care.

It’s about holding onto optimism even in the face of adversity and embracing discomfort for the sake of growth.

For women, these signs of mental toughness may not always be recognized or applauded in a society that often has stereotyped views of strength.

But they are there, quietly forming the bedrock of their resilience.

Remember that mental toughness is not a trait exclusive to a select few. It’s a skill that can be developed with time, awareness, and practice.

As American author and researcher Brené Brown puts it, “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage.”

Lucas Graham

Lucas Graham, based in Auckland, writes about the psychology behind everyday decisions and life choices. His perspective is grounded in the belief that understanding oneself is the key to better decision-making. Lucas’s articles are a mix of personal anecdotes and observations, offering readers relatable and down-to-earth advice.

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