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Mental Health Day: The Secret to Mental Toughness


“Vulnerability is not weakness. And that’s a myth that is profoundly dangerous.”

Brene Brown

  “Act as if everything is in your control.” This is what one website said about developing mental toughness. Then, they went on to say that one should never whine or complain.

While I’m not for whining or complaining, I don’t think mental toughness is about faking it either. And when it comes to developing grit, vulnerability might have a lot more to do with it than you think. Let’s first take a look at just what vulnerability is:

Derived from the Latin word vulnerbilis, which means wounding, to be vulnerable means “to be capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt physically or emotionally, or open to or defenseless against criticism or moral attack.”

The truth is not one of us is invulnerable. No matter how well we present ourselves, manage our image, or hide our faults, we all can be attacked at any moment.

And we all can be hurt, probably already have been. Yet as Brene Brown reminds us, “Vulnerability is about showing up and being seen, and it’s tough to do that if we are terrified about what others think.”

Instead, it’s when we can be willing to open ourselves, wholeheartedly, without any guarantee that we will be loved and accepted, that we can truly be vulnerable.

And what does this have to do with mental toughness?

Well when we can be vulnerable, willing to not hide our faults, willing to live with the uncertainty that comes with loving wholeheartedly, we can also become authentic– that is true to ourselves, and true to everyone else.

We will admit our wrongdoings, accept our faults, and be willing to ask for help. And we will do this because we can’t fix what we don’t acknowledge.

Toughness isn’t about acting in control. Because we’re not. Toughness is about admitting what’s wrong, not working, and needs fixing. Toughness is about taking responsibility and asking for help. Toughness is about not needing to be seen as in control, and being okay with the uncertainty that we all face when adversity, criticism, and attack come our way. Toughness is about being honest.

Tough woman image available from Shutterstock.

Mental Health Day: The Secret to Mental Toughness

Claire Dorotik-Nana, LMFT

Claire Dorotik-Nana LMFT is a licensed marriage and family therapist specializing in post-traumatic growth, leveraging adversity, and other epic human achievements. Claire has written multiple continuing education courses for Professional Development Resources, Zur Institute, and International Sport Science Association. Claire has also authored multiple books, including:
Leverage: The Science of Turning Setbacks into Springboards and On The Back Of A Horse: Harnessing The Healing Power Of The Human-Equine Bond. For more information about Leveraging Adversity or Claire, visit

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APA Reference
Dorotik-Nana, C. (2014). Mental Health Day: The Secret to Mental Toughness. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 21, 2018, from


Last updated: 10 Oct 2014
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 10 Oct 2014
Published on All rights reserved.