20 Words to Say to Someone Who Acts Tough but Isn’t

People act tough for many reasons best known to them. Someone you see who might have acted aggressively or unnecessarily harsh may not really be so.

Most times people we see putting on a strong front and acting harsh are either going through a hard time and don’t want people to know.

They may be having insecurities about themselves and are only proud to acknowledge them. These people are soft or weak inside and may need something to snap to break down.

Acting tough is not always bad, it could show strength during a challenge, but people would need more than that to carry on for the long run.

More than ever, they would need a loved one around to show support and help them build the mental strength they need. They would need words of encouragement to boost their spirit.

Do you have loved ones around you going through hard times but always putting up a strong front? Do you know anyone who acts tough but isn’t and you lack words to show support? This article will help you out.

20 Things To Say To Someone Who Acts Tough But Isn’t

1. It Is Okay Not To Be Fine

People who act tough when they aren’t are most times in denial. They lie to themselves about what they are facing and refuse to acknowledge that they are not okay.

They make it worse by trying to carry on more than their mental strength can take, putting expectations that are beyond them.

People who act tough usually suppress their emotions. It could be hurt over a heartbreak, the pain of losing a loved one, or some other emotions. Suppressing emotions is not a solution that will last.

These emotions will someday let themselves out as anger and these people may end up with regrets.

More than ever, such persons would need people to remind them that they are only humans, and facing challenges doesn’t make them less.

Remind them that it’s okay not to be fine. Remind them not to ignore their emotions and acknowledge them.

2. Take It Easy

When people act tough, they usually put a lot of pressure on themselves. It takes a lot to put up a tough front when you are not and it is mentally draining.

These people may have a lot going around them which may make them lose their perspective and sometimes themselves in the process.

If you have people like this around you, always remind them to take it easy and slow down. These could help them have a rethink and find better solutions to their problems.

3. This is just a phase that would pass

Challenges usually seem like they would last forever. But the truth is nothing lasts forever. Life is in phases and challenges are only a part.

When people act tough around you when you know they aren’t strong, they would need encouraging words that would get them going.

Remind them that what they are facing is only a phase that would pass. This could help them cool off and get better.

Some people you see being aggressive are only transferring aggression and frustration. Let them know that their challenges would pass by and be aggressive is not the solution.

4. Let Go Of Pride And Seek Help 

Some people act tough out of pride. They want people to see them as what they are not. Some people who always appear too harsh may have insecurities about themselves.

They may be passing through tough times and need help. But these people are either too proud to accept that they need help or are too proud to seek this help.

If you have those who are close to you, it would be nice to let them know to let go of pride and seek help. Let them know it won’t kill them but make them stronger.

5. Do Not Be Harsh On Yourself 

When people act tough to look strong when they are not, they tend to also take it hard on themselves, not only on others. Hard times can harden people up.

While this is good and can help one scale through, some people act strong when they are not.

It could be your boss who keeps shouting and getting angry all the time, a friend suddenly starts flaring up or a family member responds in a way you are not used to. They blame themselves for so many things.

You can help such persons by telling them not to beat themselves up for what they are facing. When such people learn to be easy on themselves, the way they react outside and with people would also change.

6. I am here for you

You can let people know that you are there for them. Even though you may not have the capacity to help them out with whatever they are facing, just being around can make them feel better.

When someone acts tough around you, they might be keeping a lot to themselves. They may have no one to talk to or may be afraid to talk to people and share their problems.

The only thing they can resort to is going all hard. You can let such a person know that you are there for them.

Let them know you can lend a shoulder for them to lean on, a listening ear for them to let it out, and a company to take off loneliness.

7. Take A Break

As an employer, you can help your worker with kind words to ease their stress.

When you notice a change in your employees’ behavior; maybe they suddenly respond harshly or they keep working too hard past their working hours, this should ring a bell that something is wrong somewhere.

Such a person may not know how to talk to you as the boss and they resort to being rude. You can tell such people to take a break and take care of whatever they are facing.

This could help them to deal with their challenges and return better.

8. It will be fine

Frequently telling people it will be fine can make them feel better, that’s the power of words. When someone pretends to be tough when they are not, it could only mean things are not fine.

Constantly telling them it would get better could be what they need to get better. It could be what would make them loosen up.

9. You can talk to me

They say, “a problem shared is half solved.” Talking things out can help ease the burden within and make people act better.

If you have people around you who always put on a tough exterior when you know such is not the case, you can lend help to such.

Simply telling them, “you can talk to me,” can make them loosen up, even if you are a stranger to them. Sometimes, what people need is just a listening ear, someone they could pour out their frustration to.

Let people know that they can talk to you, especially your loved ones. That could be a saving grace.

10. Face Your Fears

One of the many reasons people act tough when they are not is out of fear. They could nurse fear for something within them, and the only line of defense is to act tough to keep people away or the source of their fear away.

You can talk to such persons and tell them to face their fears, acknowledge them and deal with them. These could be the words they need to become better.

11. You don’t have to be tough

People act tough sometimes because they feel they have to. They have to be tough so as not to be perceived as weak, they have to be tough to keep people at arm’s length.

While this may achieve whatever it was meant for, in the long run, they would get tired and find out they can’t go on that way.

Simply reminding these people that don’t have to be tough can help them act better.

12. It’s Okay To Cry

Some people do not cry because they feel they would be seen as weak if they do. And most times, these people put up a strong exterior to hide their emotions.

There is no harm in crying and reminding these persons that tears could be what could make them feel better, will go a long way.

Pent-up emotions can weigh one down, and let go with tears can bring relief. Tell them, it is okay for them to cry.

13. You Are Better Than This

People going through a hard time and hiding it under a tough act often need to see that their situation doesn’t define them.

Some people sometimes feel bad about themselves when things are not going as expected and tend to act tough around people.

But when they are alone, they fault themselves and see no good in themselves. You can remind these people that they are better.

If they are well known to you, you can remind them of when they went through similar situations and scaled through.

Constantly reminding them that they are better than what they see can keep them hopeful and make them act better.

14. You can trust me

Another reason people may act tough when they are not is that they find no one they can trust with their problems.

People pretend to be fine when they are not to hide what they are passing through. Your friend who has suddenly become too aggressive or turned into a bully may be dealing with insecurities and can’t trust you with them.

If you have such people around you, let them know they can trust you with their problems. Tell them and constantly remind them. With time, they would loosen up and get to act better.

15. It Is Okay To Be Yourself

When people act tough when they are not, it is probably because they don’t feel good about themselves. They act tough so people would believe they are strong and can handle difficult tasks.

In a work environment, some people may be acting tough to be on the good side of their boss. They would expect to be called upon when there are tougher tasks.

This may be good, but it won’t for a long time. When you’re acting what you’re not, with time the facade will break through. Let these people know that it is okay to be themselves.

If the job requires you to be tough, it is better to allow the process to toughen you than to act tough to get it done. It may not achieve the right purpose. Remind them that being themselves is the best.

16. Look On The Brighter Side

When people act tough when going through hard times, you can constantly remind them to look on the bright side.

It can’t be all that bad. Remind them that being alive is enough to keep them going.

17. You Are Brave

People who act tough when they are not are actually brave. It takes a courageous person to carry on like all is good in the face of challenges.

Let them know they are brave. Encourage them with these words while helping them face the challenge.

18. The World Is Not Your Enemy

Some people bully others, lash out at every given opportunity, and talk rudely to almost everyone because they have a thing against the world.

It might be due to what they have faced in the past or what they are currently going through.

If you have such persons around you, remind them the world is not their enemy and there are people out there who are willing to help.

Let them know they don’t have to act tough to put people away, they could be sending their helpers away. Let them know they are still good people around.

19. Thank You For All You Do, But Now It’s Time For You

Your parents might be facing some challenges but act tough just to keep being there for you. Your friend might be acting tough not to bother you with their problems.

When you notice such, thank them for all they’ve done and let them know it’s time for them to take care of themselves. This can make them feel better and relieved.

20. I love You

When people go through challenges and act tough, simply letting them know you love them can make it all better.

These words are very powerful and can help them loosen up, they can make them trust you more and open up.

They can help one deal better with insecurities and help them come out of them.


Kind words are powerful and sometimes they are what people need to survive a challenge.

However, most times, words are not always enough. When you tell people things, make sure you mean them and try to be what you say or do what you have said.

When people act tough when they are not, don’t be quick to judge them. Instead, find ways to help them with kind and encouraging words.


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