Unfortunately, not everyone will understand you the way you understand you.
Everyone has different opinions on things, and almost everyone in your life will see a different side to you compared to someone else.
There’s a popular saying that goes something like, “You never know what people are going through behind closed doors”.
And it couldn’t be truer! There could be so much going on in your life, or has happened to you in the past, that almost no one knows about in full.
Some people may know snippets, for sure. But most people won’t know absolutely everything.
So it makes sense that the only person who knows how tough you are is yourself.
Keep reading to explore the 7 signs you’re mentally tougher than people think you are.
1) You don’t need constant validation from others
Everyone needs validation and wants validation sometimes, especially in their career or romantic relationships.
Which is particularly the case if you have an anxious attachment style.
But just because you need validation for some things, that doesn’t mean you aren’t mentally strong.
It’s perfectly normal (and advisable) to run all your career-related decisions by your professional development mentor at work.
But seeking help from all your family members and friends for those same decisions? That’s not so great.
A sign that you’re mentally tough is if you feel comfortable and confident in your decisions – and you can make them without always needing the OK from others.
Whether that’s on the big things, like whether you accept that job offer, or the small things, like what you wear to the next office party.
2) You say no when it’s needed (not just for the sake of it)
It’s easy for people to think you aren’t mentally tough if you rarely say “No”.
But, even though saying no is something everyone should do occasionally if they want to be happier in life, there’s no socially accepted number of “No’s” you need to give to people to be considered mentally tough.
If you’re mentally tough, you say no when you need to say no, even if that’s not very often.
You don’t say no just because you haven’t said it in a while.
And people may think you’re not that tough if you say “Yes” a lot of the time. But you know that isn’t the case if you’re staying true to yourself.
I remember at work my boss told me I didn’t have to say yes to the project if I was too busy. He was always offering me new projects and I was always saying yes.
But that was because the work was interesting to me and I had the time to do it.
And while he may have deep-down wondered whether I was just saying yes because I was afraid to say no, his validation didn’t matter.
Because I knew I could say no when I needed to.
And this trait meant that in the future, when I did actually say no to something, it was fully respected and not challenged at all.
3) You can control your emotions around others
When people anger or annoy you, do you immediately explode in a fit of rage?
Or do you take time to sit with the feeling and figure out how you’re going to deal with the thing that’s upset you in the best way?
If it’s the latter, you’re way tougher than many people may realize.
Other people don’t see how much inner strength you have if you aren’t reacting at all when something upsets you.
But controlling your emotions takes strength and high emotional intelligence.
So if this is your go-to way of responding to things that bother you, you’re way more mentally strong than people might think.
So just make sure you have an outlet for your emotions when the time is right.
Like channeling anger through a hobby, journaling your thoughts, or speaking to a trusted friend to help you move past the issue.
4) You are kind and empathetic, even when it’s really, really hard to be
It takes a lot of strength to be kind and show people empathy, especially when they’ve done something wrong.
I remember when my dad and his friends got scammed by one of their other friends.
He said he’d booked a golfing trip for everyone, took their money to “pay” for the trip – and then ran off with the cash to pay his drug-related debts.
Most people were furious – threatening all sorts.
But a few others showed empathy to their friend and concern about how desperate he must’ve been for the cash – with clear worries for his mental health.
Some called those people fools. But, in a way, they showed a lot of mental strength to be so kind and empathetic to a friend who was clearly desperate and in a lot of trouble.
And forgiveness of this extreme takes a lot of inner strength.
I’m not saying you should be forgiving to scam artists (or anyone else who’s wronged you so badly).
But if you’re generally kind to people, even when they perhaps haven’t earned your kindness, that takes a lot of strength.
And it’s something not every person can or is willing to do.
5) You say sorry when you’re in the wrong (or even when you’re not)
Owning up to your mistakes and apologizing for them is hard. But saying sorry even when you’re not in the wrong is considerably harder.
What one person thinks is OK behavior is completely different from another.
Sometimes, especially in romantic relationships, you can cause someone pain without meaning to.
When you didn’t do anything “wrong” – so to speak – that doesn’t mean you haven’t caused someone hurt.
And while some people will die on a hill before apologizing for something they don’t think is wrong, those that do apologize are way tougher mentally than those who refuse to.
6) You feel comfortable asking for help
Asking for help sometimes gets a bad rep – or at least it has in the past. But, in reality, there’s no weakness at all in asking for help.
In fact, it takes strength to admit you need support.
If you’re someone who feels very comfortable asking for help – whether that be from a trusted friend or from your boss at work when you need some guidance – you’re way tougher than people may realize.
While some people may view this as a negative trait, they couldn’t be more wrong.
And in the workplace, fessing up in the areas you need to develop in can be a great thing for your boss to hear.
It shows you’re willing to learn, develop your skills, and grow with the company – which allows them to mentor you and give you the chance to further your career.
7) You look for the positives in everything
Looking on the bright side of life all the time is way harder than stewing in the negatives.
I remember a friend I had in college who was always so positive about everything. Behind her back, some people used to say she’d never make it in the real world.
That she was too “naïve” and “the world was going to eat her up”.
But the fact was she wasn’t naïve. She was actually way tougher than people gave her credit for.
When her mum passed a year later, her positive mindset pulled her through. And when she lost her brother the following year, she still looked on the bright side of life and didn’t let her grief weigh her down.
So the world definitely didn’t “eat her up”. The fact is that it’s quite easy to complain and get bogged down in the negatives.
But choosing to step outside of what everyone is doing and not engage in negative conversations is way harder than most people think.
And if you’re also like my old friend, looking for the positives in everything, you too are probably much tougher than people give you credit for.
If people tell you you’re not mentally tough, there’s a strong chance they’re wrong.
I’m sure if you wrote down a list of everything you’ve ever overcome in your life, you (and everyone else) would be completely baffled that you’re still standing!
That’s because you’re probably way stronger than people assume you are.
So if you recognize many of these signs in yourself, give yourself some credit! Because you’re probably much tougher mentally than you think.