Exploring Mental Strength: Examples & Signs

Kellie Hanna, CPRW
By Kellie Hanna, CPRW, Career Advice Expert Last Updated: March 27, 2024

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Young employees and job seekers are frequently reminded of the importance of being “tough” to succeed in the “real world.” But how does this translate in practical terms? It’s not about Rocky Balboa-style workouts or the literal resilience of getting up after being knocked down. (And if you’re being knocked down at work, it’s time to look for a new job, immediately). Explore mental strength examples and understand the signs of mental strength that truly matter in a professional setting.

Mental toughness can be difficult to define, and inexperienced employees don’t always know if they have what it takes to make it up the ladder. So with that in mind, allow us to shed some light on what it means to be “mentally strong”. Master these traits, and even if you get battered around a little on the way, you’ll eventually reach your goals.

Understanding and goal setting

They identify personal goals and desires

During any given interaction or project, mentally strong people recognize the desired outcome over both the long and short term. They ask themselves: “What do I hope to get out of this conversation?” and “Why am working so hard to please this particular client or contact?” They know where they plan to be in one, three, or five years, and they know where they’d like to be in five minutes. And of course, they recognize that these plans and goals may change at any moment.

They embrace flexibility in changing circumstances

Opportunities can arrive and disappear without warning, and plans sometimes change on a moment’s notice—or with no notice at all. Mentally strong people keep up with these changes and don’t miss a beat.

Resilience and adaptability

They navigate temporary discomfort with resilience 

Early mornings are rough. So are long days, all-nighters, awkward conversations, harsh criticism, and difficult decisions. But mentally strong people don’t avoid these rough patches; they face them down and ride them out.

They balance determination with pragmatism

Staying power is critical to any long term endeavor, and the phrase “Never give up!” wouldn’t appear on so many motivational posters if it didn’t hold a grain of wisdom. But mentally strong people balance bull-headed determination with intelligence and practically. They know when to hold steady and when to change course.

They calculate the role of risk in personal growth

Strong people know that in order to make money, they sometimes need to spend money. And in order to move forward, they sometimes need to move back. Calculated risks are part of a successful career and a well lived life…and this includes the risk of revealing our ignorance in order to learn new things.

Emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills

They practice kindness and respect

Even when they’re stressed, distracted, or angry, mentally strong people have the perspective to put their own feelings aside and treat others with kindness and respect.

They exercise emotional control

No matter what happens to them, mentally strong people know that outward expressions of emotion are within their control. They decide which feelings they’ll share and which feelings they’ll keep to themselves.

They develop a deep sense of empathy

Mentally strong people know how to place themselves in the position of another person and imagine what others might be thinking and feeling at any given moment.

Personal well-being and happiness

They safeguard their personal happiness

Happiness matters. It’s serious and important. Mentally strong people know this, and they don’t let people or circumstances take their happiness away without a fight.

Key Takeaways

  • Identify Personal Goals and Desires: Mentally strong individuals are clear about their short-term and long-term objectives, constantly questioning their motivations and plans.

  • Embrace Flexibility in Changing Circumstances: Adaptability to sudden changes and unexpected opportunities is a hallmark of mental strength.

  • Navigate Temporary Discomfort with Resilience: Facing and overcoming daily challenges and discomforts demonstrates resilience.

  • Balance Determination with Pragmatism: Knowing when to persevere and when to adapt is crucial for long-term success.

  • Calculate the Role of Risk in Personal Growth: Embracing calculated risks is essential for advancement and learning.

  • Practice Kindness and Respect: Maintaining a compassionate demeanor, regardless of personal stress, exemplifies strong emotional intelligence.

  • Exercise Emotional Control: Choosing how to express emotions reflects a strong command over one’s emotional state.

  • Develop a Deep Sense of Empathy: Understanding and sharing the feelings of others is a key trait of emotionally intelligent individuals.

  • Safeguard Personal Happiness: Proactively protecting one’s happiness against external pressures is a sign of mental strength.

For more on how to navigate the rough currents of a growing career, explore the resources and job search tips on MyPerfectResume.

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9 Key Signs of Mental Strength

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