What it Really Means to be a Tough Woman


Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Teresa Griffith.

Everywhere around us on TV and in movies, we see tough women characters.

Talented actors portray these archetypes wonderfully — fit, fast, athletic, smart, savvy and attractive. Aren’t tough women sexy and awesome?

Being a real (non-Hollywood) tough woman is more than just knowing how to use a long sword or do roundhouse kicks. It’s more than beating people up or outsmarting the bad guys. Here are a few thoughts on being a real-life tough woman.

Be true to yourself

We are all tough people in one way or another, but faking toughness or putting on a persona isn’t genuine and people around you will pick up on that. True toughness is more about resilience — the ability to adapt when something unexpected happens; it’s about bouncing back. Having a tough-chick attitude only works if that’s who you are!

You can be tough without being physical

Hollywood portrays tough women as being rough, aggressive or just plain ruthless, because that’s what Hollywood thinks is sexy, and what people want to see.

But Hollywood doesn’t have it right. Real tough women aren’t forceful and don’t lay a finger on anyone. They don’t have to. They find ways to work collaboratively with others and resolve conflicts peacefully. Their first reaction is not a violent one — their first reaction is to think before they act. Sure, skinny gymnastic women are fun to watch, but it’s not realistic. You can be tough and utterly kind at the same time.

Being tough is about what’s inside you, not about what you do

Some of the toughest women I know are actually quite frail. They are dealing with health issues, personal and family crises, financial challenges or mental illness. Getting out of bed is tough for many of them. Each and every one of them has an internal strength that leaves me in awe. We all have this internal strength — perhaps you just haven’t had to tap into it yet.

Tough women don’t complain

If there is a kryptonite for toughness, it must be complaining. On the contrary, being grateful and appreciative of everything in your life leads to a lighthearted feeling and incredible resilience. Attitude is everything.

The toughest thing of all is believing in yourself

What do all tough women have in common? Good self-esteem and a balanced assertiveness. They respect themselves and know they are worthy of others’ respect. Because they quietly believe the best about themselves, so do others, and they don’t tend to attract situations where others treat them badly (generally).

But, if they need to, they know how to stand up for themselves, and if you’re lucky enough to have a tough woman for a friend, she’ll stick up for you, too. They’ll never attack anyone else, and because of their perceptive nature, they rarely need to defend themselves.

I could write a whole book on self-esteem. If your self-esteem is low, here are just a few things you can do:

  • Think of self-esteem as self-respect.
    Is there something specific you can do to respect yourself more?
  • Absolutely and totally turn your back on the past.
    Never mind how your parents, siblings or schoolmates treated you. Live in the present.
  • Compare yourself constructively.
    When you look up to someone, what is it about them you like? What actual steps could you take to be like that more?
  • Keep your promises to yourself.
    Start with something small and then when you keep the promise, pat yourself on the back and build yourself up.
  • Talk positively to yourself.
    When something happens, you have a choice about how to react. Why not react with a positive attitude towards yourself, rather than blaming or being negative towards yourself? Pay attention to how you talk to yourself.
  • Treat yourself like your grandma (or another person you respect).
    Ever notice how you change the way you speak when talking to someone you look up to? That’s proof it is possible to change how you speak. Why not change how you talk to yourself?

Tough women have heaps of endurance, steadfastness, reliability and kindness. They really are amazing — so are tough men, but I will leave that subject for someone else to write about!

Teresa Griffith is the author of Love Your Skeletons, an inspirational book about overcoming hurts and mistakes of the past — the skeletons in the closet. She loves to write and help people figure out how their thoughts are affecting their reality. She lives in northern Canada.

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