People who are inwardly broken but outwardly strong usually display these 7 subtle behaviors

You know those people who seem strong on the outside but are secretly battling inner demons? It’s as if they’re living in a contradiction.

This kind of duality isn’t rare at all. It’s all about resilience—pushing through despite the odds—often hidden behind subtle behaviors.

They’ve got these coping mechanisms that help them keep going, even though they’re struggling inside. On the surface, they look strong and stable, but inside, it’s a whole different story.

In this dive, we’ll check out seven little behaviors that give away their inner battles. These signs might not scream for attention, but they reveal a lot about the strength and struggles these folks carry.

Ready? Let’s dive in.

1) They tend to wear masks

We all have our ways of hiding what we’re going through, but some folks take masking their pain to a whole new level.

You know those people who always seem so full of life, like nothing could ever get them down? They’re the ones with the infectious laughter, the perpetual smiles, always putting on a brave face.

But beneath that facade lies a different story. It’s like they’re wearing a mask to shield themselves from the world, to hide the pain they’re wrestling with inside.

The irony is, while they might seem like the happiest people around, they often feel incredibly alone. They’re fighting silent battles, struggling with demons that nobody else knows about.

Spotting these masks isn’t easy. These folks are masters at projecting the image they want others to see.

But once you know what to look for, you’ll start noticing the subtle signs—the way their eyes flicker when certain topics come up, or how they deflect attention from their own feelings.

2) They’re often the ones helping others

It might sound strange, but those who are hurting inside often pour their energy into helping others. Despite their own battles, or perhaps because of them, they deeply empathize with others’ pain and struggles.

These are the folks who are always there to lend an ear, offer comfort, or give advice. They make it their mission to assist others, even while grappling with their own demons.

On the surface, they may seem incredibly strong and selfless—and in many ways, they are. But this behavior can also serve as a distraction, a way to shift focus from their own pain.

It’s also a quest for validation. By aiding others, they feel valued and appreciated—feelings they may struggle to find within themselves.

3) They often struggle with relationships

Navigating relationships is a challenge for most people, but it can be particularly difficult for those who are inwardly broken. They often have a deep fear of rejection and abandonment, and these fears can lead to patterns of codependency or emotional withdrawal.

I’ve seen this in many of the individuals I’ve worked with over the years. They’re incredibly strong, capable people, but when it comes to their relationships, they’re often fraught with anxiety and insecurity.

In my book, Breaking The Attachment: How To Overcome Codependency in Your Relationship, I’ve explored these dynamics in depth. It’s not an easy journey, but understanding these patterns is the first step towards healthier, more fulfilling relationships.

So if you notice someone who seems outwardly strong, yet struggles in their relationships, understand that it could be a sign of their inner turmoil.

Offer them empathy and patience – they’re likely fighting battles you can’t see. And if you’re the one struggling, remember – you’re not alone, and help is available.

4) They’re often perfectionists

Another telltale sign of vibrant personas who are struggling internally is their relentless pursuit of perfection. They’re the ones who seem to have everything flawlessly in order, never missing a beat, always striving for the highest standards.

Yet, behind this facade of flawlessness lies a deep-seated fear of failure or judgment. They feel compelled to be perfect to shield themselves from criticism or rejection, which can heap immense pressure and stress upon them.

As Maya Angelou wisely put it, “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” This quote resonates deeply, particularly for individuals grappling with inner turmoil.

Let’s be real: Perfectionism isn’t a badge of strength—it’s a cloak for insecurity.

When you spot someone relentlessly pushing themselves to the brink in pursuit of flawlessness, offer patience and support. Recognize their efforts while gently reminding them that it’s okay to be and make mistakes.

5) They’re prone to isolating themselves

Sometimes, those who are inwardly broken yet outwardly strong will withdraw from the world. They isolate themselves, preferring their own company or the quiet solitude of their thoughts over social interactions.

On the surface, it may look like they’re just introverted or independent. But often, this isolation is a way of protecting themselves. It’s a shield against the outside world, a barrier they erect to keep their inner struggles hidden.

I’ve found myself doing this at times—retreating into my own space when things get overwhelming. It’s a coping mechanism many of us resort to when we’re dealing with pain or stress.

So if you notice someone often choosing solitude over socializing, it might be a sign of their inner struggles. Reach out to them, let them know they’re not alone and that it’s okay to share their burdens. Sometimes, just knowing someone cares can make all the difference.

6) They rarely ask for help

People who are inwardly broken but outwardly strong often have a difficult time asking for help. They’re used to being the ones who provide support, who solve problems, who handle everything on their own.

Asking for help can feel like a sign of weakness, an admission that they’re not as strong as they appear. But in reality, it takes great courage to admit when we need help. As the brilliant philosopher Socrates once said, “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”

I’ve been there myself—feeling like I should be able to handle everything on my own, struggling silently while putting on a brave face. But I’ve come to realize that it’s okay to ask for help. In fact, it’s necessary.

And if you’re finding these insights helpful and want to stay updated with my latest articles, feel free to follow me on my Facebook page.

7) They often have a hard time accepting compliments

Individuals who are outwardly strong but inwardly broken often struggle to accept compliments graciously. They may deflect praise, minimize their accomplishments, or dismiss kind words altogether.

This isn’t about false modesty; it’s rooted in their own self-perception. Despite their apparent strength, they may harbor feelings of unworthiness or inadequacy.

For many, this struggle with self-acceptance runs deep. They’re their harshest critics, always striving for more and never feeling deserving of recognition.

Thus, when offering compliments, understand that it’s not always easy for them to receive. Be patient and persistent, reminding them of their value even when they struggle to see it themselves.

Sometimes, a little extra encouragement can go a long way in helping them recognize their worth.

A moment of reflection

We’ve examined seven behaviors common among individuals who, despite appearing strong outwardly, may be grappling with inner struggles. It’s a reminder that everyone faces battles, some seen, many hidden.

When you come across someone who might be going through a tough time internally, approach them with kindness and understanding.

Listen without judgment and let them know you’re there for them whenever they need someone to talk to. Sometimes, just being present and offering a comforting shoulder can mean the world.

Above all, respect their boundaries and don’t push them to share more than they’re ready for. Your support and empathy can make a big difference in their journey of healing and self-discovery.

And in our quest for understanding and healing, I recommend watching Justin Brown’s video on imposter syndrome. It reframes this experience as a sign of profound self-awareness and a catalyst for growth.

I believe this video will provide valuable insight and further exploration into the complexities of feeling inwardly broken while appearing outwardly strong.

Remember, it’s okay not to be okay. And more importantly, it’s okay to seek help when you’re not okay. After all, we’re all in this together.

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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