Acting Tough vs Being Tough

Most of the time, we’re encouraged to face challenges squarely, say no to failure, and give no room for brooding.

And while this may be good advice, if it isn’t balanced with helping us understand that worries and failures are part of human lives, then it’s doing more harm than good.

And this is the same with acting tough; when you’re not allowed to feel any emotions. Do you want to know the difference between acting tough and being tough?

Then keep reading this article, as I’ll be discussing the major difference between acting tough and being tough. Also, you’ll know what it means to act tough and why people act tough.

In the end, you’ll know what makes a person tough and the opposite of being tough.

What is the Major Difference Between Acting Tough and Being Tough?

There’s a huge line differentiating acting tough and being tough. First, the former is an act, a presentation that isn’t real while the latter is what is real.

Acting tough means trying to be tough when you aren’t i.e putting up a strong front when inside you’re weak. On the other hand, a tough person is strong and resilient. They can tolerate hardship and withstand difficulties and challenges.

When someone acts tough, they tend to imitate a tough person. These sets of people usually live in denial, refusing to see their mistakes.

While a tough person sees their mistakes and can learn from them and become better.

What Does it Mean When People Act Tough?

When people act tough, it’s usually to present a picture of what is not there. Most times, they act tough to mask their insecurities and pain.

These people are afraid of showing pain or seeing failure and so they hide under a facade. Also, most of the time, they act out of pride. Below are what it means when people act tough.

They Are Hiding Their Insecurities and Pain

One of the common traits of people who act tough is that many of them tend to hide their insecurities behind that toughness.

These sets of people want people to see what isn’t there. They develop an attitude that makes people perceive them as strong.

Most of the time they take up more jobs or just keep going so there is no room for their pains or weaknesses to show.

Additionally, people who act tough often live in denial. They refuse to accept that they’ve fears and worries before others and also remain blind to themselves.

As a result, they’ll go on with this tough act until they break down someday.

Acting Tough vs Being Tough

They Don’t Recognize Failure

When people act tough, most times they do so because they don’t see failure as an option. They’ll never accept that they can fail at something.

And when this is the case, they often remain comfortable in whatever project they’re engaging in because they’re afraid of not succeeding.

In addition, they’d most times not attempt new things because of this fear. Many of them are so averse to failure that when they fail at something, it affects them so badly because they were never prepared for it.

They Are too Proud

When people act tough, it’s usually because they’re too proud. Generally, pride and fear are two characteristics you should watch out for in those who act tough.

While having pride in oneself and your achievements is good, the pride that makes you not accept your weakness is what kills very fast.

When this is the case with people who act tough, many of them become aggressive and turn into a bully.

For instance, bosses may become aggressive because they want their staff to always see them as superior, without any sign of weakness.

They Want to be Accepted

Another reason people act tough is that they want to be accepted by others. Many of the people who act tough do this to gain acceptance from people around them.

For instance, bullies in school or other places often treat people badly to gain acceptance from their types.

Additionally, people may behave like they’ve got the mental capabilities of handling so many things either to please their parents or their bosses.

Who Are Tough People?

Tough people are those who are strong and able to keep their heads up in times of difficulty.

They’re not afraid of failing. Instead, they see their failure and mistakes as an opportunity to learn and do things better.

Tough people are truly confident. They’re not afraid of trying new things or taking up difficult tasks. And while at this, they’re open and always prepared for anything.

In addition, people who are strong and resilient usually focus on what is within their control. They’re not concerned about people accepting them and so, they don’t do things to impress people.

Furthermore, tough people are not afraid of showing their pain and weakness. While they’re optimistic, they’re also realistic and don’t live in denial.

Acting Tough vs Being Tough

How to Differentiate Between Acting Tough and Being Tough

There’s a thin line between acting tough and being tough. To differentiate between these two, you need to watch the people involved very closely.

I’ll be using the following features to differentiate between acting tough and being tough:


The ability to endure and come out strong from a difficult situation is the characteristic of a tough person.

A tough person has the mental strength to face challenges and not allow them to cripple them.

These people have the patience to pursue their goals, even when it can be frustrating. Also, they’re able to stand their ground when people are against them and work under pressure.

On the other hand, someone who’s acting tough doesn’t have the mental strength to persevere for a long time.

While it may seem their tough act is taking them through whatever challenges they’re facing, the first sign of a bigger problem or failure easily scares them away.

What takes people through tough times is mental strength, someone acting tough will not be able to withstand pressure for a long time.


One way to identify someone tough is their ability to express their emotions. These kinds of people are not afraid to express their pains or show their weaknesses.

A tough person is in control of their emotions. They’re not afraid to face their fears. Also, when they’re faced with insecurities, they don’t live in denial but are always honest with themselves.

Also, while they don’t suppress their feelings, they don’t allow them to cloud their sense of reasoning. They’re able to work with their feelings and become better.

On the other hand, someone acting tough usually stays self-denial. These sets of people often ignore their fears and are always afraid to show their weaknesses.

Ignoring your emotions is very unhealthy and with those who act tough, when these suppressed emotions explode, they usually come in anger.

So, most tough people only know how to express anger and do their best to never let their weaknesses show.

Acting Tough vs Being Tough

Embracing Criticism

Another way to identify someone who acts tough and someone tough is the ability to accept criticism.

A tough person isn’t afraid of criticism, instead, they look forward to them so they can learn from them. They’re not afraid of others seeing their mistakes and correcting them.

On the other hand, someone who’s acting tough won’t know how to accept criticisms and corrections from others. They’re averse to corrections and don’t believe in failure.

This kind of attitude is usually what makes someone putting up a tough act difficult to approach. They make themselves so strict that people view them as unapproachable.

In addition, they’re too proud to see their own mistakes, nor are they keen on learning from others.

Recognizing Failure and Mistakes

Another way to differentiate between acting tough and being tough is the ability to recognize failure and mistakes.

A tough person understands that failure is a part of life and is always prepared for it. They are ready to accept their mistakes and learn from them.

While someone who acts tough usually zeros their mind against failure.

Although this kind of attitude may be able to take them through without losses, it’ll always keep them from trying new things because of their fear of failure.

What Makes a Tough Person?

Many qualities make a person tough. First, being tough doesn’t entail being harsh or difficult.

It involves being in control of your situations, the ability to learn from your mistakes, and being confident and flexible enough to embrace change.

Below, I’ll explain the qualities that make a person tough.

Ability to Be in Control

The ability to be in control of their situations is what makes a person tough. A tough person knows how to handle tasks without allowing their emotions to come into place.

They’ve got the mental strength of working under pressure and handling things. Someone who knows how to be in charge of their situations is a tough person.

Ability to Learn from Their Mistakes

Another quality that makes a person tough is the ability to learn from their mistakes. A tough person leverages their mistakes and failures and becomes better from them.

In addition, they’re not afraid of making mistakes and when it happens, they don’t dwell on it for too long, but instead move past them much stronger and more determined.

They Are Truly Confident

Another quality you’ll identify in a tough person is possessing true confidence.

While someone who acts tough usually shows false confidence to hide their weaknesses, a truly confident person is a tough person.

A truly confident person doesn’t ignore their fears but rather is courageous amidst fears and worries. These people are confident in themselves, both in their weaknesses and strengths.

They Embrace Change

Another quality that makes a person tough is the ability to embrace change. When you’ve got the mental strength to accept corrections and criticisms, it shows you’re tough.

Also, a tough person knows when to quit and move on. They know when it’s time to try another path and are not afraid of embracing others’ ideas.

Is Strong the Same as Tough?

Depending on the use, strong can have a slight difference from tough. First, these are two words that are very similar and can be used interchangeably.

Strong can be an adjective or an adverb and it can be used to describe possessing physical power or force. Also, it can describe one who’s determined and unyielding and doesn’t give up easily.

On the other hand, tough can be used as a noun or an adjective. This word can describe someone difficult to please. Also, it entails mental strength and the capabilities to endure suffering.

It can also mean being severe or harsh and also describe a stubborn person. As a noun, it means a bully or thug.

So, these two words are similar but you can use them differently to express yourself better.

What Is the Opposite of Being Tough?

The opposite of being tough can vary; from being soft-hearted, weak, and vulnerable to controllable

Depending on the context, it can mean different things.

When someone is not tough, it could mean they’re soft and easily approachable. In this case, they’re more tender when working with people.

Also, it can mean they’re weak and can’t handle challenges. It could mean they can’t endure suffering or they’re vulnerable and can easily be deceived.

Generally, someone who isn’t tough can’t handle tough situations. They run at the slight hint of problems.

Final Words

Acting tough and being tough are two very different things. A tough person knows how to be in control of situations and his emotions.

They don’t live in denial, but they face their problems squarely and are prepared for anything, including failure.

In addition, they’re not afraid of criticism or don’t shy away from corrections. Also, they’re not afraid to try new things.

On the other hand, someone who acts tough can’t handle difficult situations for a long time. They don’t have the mental strength to face their fears and worries.

In addition, they suppress their emotions and lean toward expressing anger only.

Someone who acts tough may turn out to be aggressive and a bully. They try to make people believe they’re in control.

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