Psychologists, therapists, and other mental healthcare professionals never fail to stress the importance of taking care of our mental health, because with good mental health comes an abundance of positive emotional, psychosocial, and even physical benefits. It’s been shown to improve our moods, sharpen our memories, help us focus and think clearer, reduce our risk of mental illness, improve our relationships, improve the quality of our sleep, and foster increased self-esteem and self-acceptance – just to name a few (Miller, 2020).
But the sad truth is, most of us don’t really understand what mental wellness actually means or what true mental strength looks like. While there’s no single definition for mental strength, the majority of researchers would agree that it’s measured by inner strength, fortitude, self-control, and good emotional adjustment. It’s a matter of emotional resiliency, a strong sense of identity, and unwavering inner peace (Rose, et al., 2010).
With that said, here are 7 signs you are mentally resilient:
1. You are in control of your emotions
Someone with a strong mind knows how to balance their emotions with logic. They don’t react to situations right away, but rather, try to approach it with a clear and rational mind. They’re not slaves to how they feel or what they want. Instead, they are patient, hardworking, level-headed, and strategic in achieving their goals. They know how to make sacrifices and they don’t waste time dwelling on their negative feelings when it doesn’t serve them any good. They don’t try to resist change or avoid difficult circumstances, because mentally strong people don’t let their emotions cloud their judgment.
2. You know how to handle failure
Another important aspect of mental strength is determination and resiliency(Morin & Morin, 2015). So if you have a strong mind, it means that you’re not afraid to fail, because you know it’s not failure is never the end of the road. You’re brave enough to put yourself out there and go after what you want, and if things don’t work out, then that’s fine. You don’t let any setbacks get you down for too long because you understand that it’s all a learning process. You take calculated risks and push yourself to be better, even if it’s scary, uncomfortable, or unrewarding at times because you know you can always bounce back from your failures.
3. You learn from your mistakes
Because you have a strong mind, you are able to accept when you’ve made a mistake and hold yourself accountable for your actions(Lehtinen, 2008). You take responsibility for what you do, and when things go wrong, you don’t wallow in self-pity or denial. You don’t fixate on what could have been or beat yourself up for not knowing better. You don’t hide behind excuses or shift the blame on someone else. Instead, you own up to your faults with honesty, humility, and maturity. While most people might dwell on their mistakes too much and stay stuck in the past, you view your mistakes as opportunities for personal growth and you take control of the situation.
4. You live life according to your values
You live your life on your own terms, unburdened by the expectations of others because you have a firm set of personal values and principles you uphold. You march to the beat of your own drum and pay little mind to what other people might think of you. You don’t let the possibility of their judgment hold you back from doing the things that make you happy. You make your decisions based on your own priorities, and you don’t let anyone else tell you how to live your life. You’re not swayed by the promise of popularity, fame, wealth, or power, but rather, your own emotional fulfilment. You are self-motivated and self-sufficient, and you’re no blind follower.
5. You are able to be your truest self
Many of us often admire those who are mentally strong because they are freely and unapologetically themselves. They’re authentic, open, and true to themselves. They don’t waste time pretending to be someone they’re not in hopes of impressing others or gaining their approval because they don’t seek validation from anyone but themselves. They’re reflective, self-aware, and in touch with their own feelings. They express themselves and their emotions in an honest and heartfelt way, and they’re not afraid to be vulnerable. They’re comfortable in their own skin and they accept themselves for who they truly are because they understand that, at the end of the day, all we have is who we are.
6. You have a strong sense of self-worth
People with a strong mind also have healthy self-esteem and a stable sense of identity that’s not easily shaken by rejection, change, or failure (Davydov, Stewart, Ritchie, & Chaudieu, 2010). No matter how bad things might get, they will still be able to feel good about themselves because their self-worth isn’t tied to the opinions of others or what they’ve accomplished. They don’t need external factors like success or social acceptance to make them feel like they have worth. Rather, they find worth in themselves and in the strength of their character – and no one else can ever take that away from them.
7. You’re a realistic optimist
Finally, but perhaps most importantly, a true sign that you have a strong mind is if you have the ability to be realistically optimistic. You see things not only for what they are but also for what they could be. You recognize potential and you remain hopeful even in the gloomiest of circumstances. And while you are always looking at the bright side of life, you make sure to keep your expectations reasonable and are careful not to let your optimistic tendencies blind you to reality. You have a positive attitude and are thankful for all the good things that come your way, but you also make sure not to take them for granted because you understand just how precious they really are.
Do you recognize any of these signs in yourself? Would you consider yourself someone with a strong mind? While few people would actually consider themselves as mentally strong or resilient, all too often are we unaware of our greatest strengths and underestimate our capacity to triumph against our personal hardships. So if you feel that any of these points are true to you at all, then that’s already such a big step in the right direction towards mental wellness.
- Miller, K. (2020). The Benefits of Mental Health According to Science. Retrieved from https://positivepsychology.com/benefits-of-mental-health/
- Rose, L., Alhusen, J., Bhandari, S., Soeken, K., Marcantonio, K., Bullock, L., & Sharps, P. (2010). Impact of intimate partner violence on pregnant women’s mental health: Mental distress and mental strength. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 31(2), 103-111.
- Morin, A., & Morin, A. (2015). 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do. Harper Audio.
- Lehtinen, V. (2008). Building Up Good Mental Health: Guidelines Based on Existing Knowledge. Monitoring Mental Health Environment Projects.
- Davydov, D. M., Stewart, R., Ritchie, K., & Chaudieu, I. (2010). Resilience and Mental Health. Clinical Psychology Review, 30(5), 479-495.