Resilience and Mental Toughness: Is There a Difference Between These Two Strengths?

by | Apr 21, 2021 | stress | 0 comments

Resilience and Mental Toughness: Is There a Difference Between These Two Strengths?

At first glance, mental toughness and resilience may appear to be one and the same. In some aspects, this is correct and the terms often go hand-in-hand. However, there are some key differences in what these two abilities are and what they can do for you.

Resilience is the the capacity to prepare for, recover from and adapt in the face of stress, challenge or adversity. When we “bounce back” from unsuccessfully completing a task and try again, this is resilience. There is no implication on how an individual may feel about a difficult situation, only that they can prepare for it and recover from it.

Mental toughness, on the other hand, is more of a matter of endurance. It is one’s ability to maintain fortitude in the face of adversity. If you have mental toughness, then you are likely to be resilient. However, being resilient doesn’t necessarily mean that you have mental toughness.


Another way to look at resilience is how we handle failure, or feedback as I like to call it. Failure is an unavoidable part of any successful process. You may try a task dozens, or even hundreds, of times before you are successful.

Take Thomas Edison for example, he (failed) found 10,000 ways that didn’t work before successfully finding a way to invent the light bulb. He did not give up even though he failed enough times to discourage the average person.

Instead, he learned from his mistakes and created one of the most important inventions of the modern era. His ability to try again after each unsuccessful attempt is an example of resilience.

Mental Toughness

Mental toughness is the ability to resist and overcome doubts and worries that arise when facing challenges. Physical skills and abilities may be necessary for completing a task, but mental toughness is the key difference in separating the good from the great.

One way to think about mental toughness is that it is a part of resilience, but also part remaining confident and positive when facing adversity. Resilience alone will give you the ability to try again, but mental toughness will provide the right mindset needed to push past a challenge.

Although mental toughness and resilience are often used interchangeably, they carry somewhat different connotations. Mental toughness is resilience with the added benefit of maintaining a positive mindset that allows you to face challenges that would otherwise be mentally draining.

If you complete a task with resilience alone, you may come out being mentally distressed at the end of it. Mental toughness will get you the same result, but at the end of the day, your mindset will be stronger and less impacted by negative thoughts. This is the key difference between resilience and mental toughness.

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