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How do I toughen up?

19 year old guy here. I’ve been called “soft” by a lot of people throughout my whole life but I’ve never paid much attention to it. However, I recently reflected on my life and now I realize that I really am soft. I’m an easy target for teasing, people take advantage of my kindness, I’ve never stood up for myself, I apologize for everything, etc. I want to change this so I can take back control of my life and not let others step all over me anymore. Any tips for reaching this goal?

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26 Comments

  1. Just start small, with the idea that you have boundaries, and deserve a place in this world.

    Once you agree that you deserve to be here, it’s a matter of looking out for you in all things.

    Id also suggest you start lifting weights for a bunch of reasons.

  2. If you want to speak you mind you just dot just that, there’s no being soft or hard there’s respecting yourself over others and vice versa. Once you respect yourself and your opinion you can tell those opinions to others.

  3. I think martial arts helps a lot. Mma and wrestling help build mental and physical toughness pretty quickly. Especially the sparring as it’s a way to pit yourself against another man and try best him, obviously in a safe and controlled manner. Otherwise the conditioning and physical fitness is demanding. Just getting through workouts requires mental and physical toughness. If you stick at it you’ll have plenty of time to practice developing your toughness

  4. Challenge yourself daily with things that are uncomfortable/ scary.
    Dont like awkward conversations? Tough, have more of them. Like having warm showers? Too bad, have cold ones. Stranger waiting next you in the bus stop? Go talk to them.

    Doing these daily challenges will build your mental toughness as a whole, that way when life throws actual tough situations your way, you’ll be more in the mindset to deal with it.

  5. Something I think that would be beneficial is getting a mentor or two. Or look into join a sport group of some kind or some other peer group where you can be around more dudes who won’t see you as a target and are interested in building you up. Never underestimate the power of reading. Find some books with strong characters. Lonesome Dove is a good one.

  6. Next time someone gives u shit in person or tries to step over u , don’t allow it . Fuck what others think. I think suffering makes u tougher, and ever hardship one endures makes them tougher . Also, start working out . People are similar to animals at the end of the day. Also, working out will increase ur confidence as u see urself making gains and getting bigger .

  7. Just make sure you’re doing it for you and not because other people are calling you names or teasing you. Nothing wrong with being kind and sensitive. But if you truly do want to learn some ways to communicate your needs better I’d suggest looking up “assertiveness” rather than “toughening up”. Lots of info on healthy assertiveness strategies. 🙂

  8. Sometimes people have porous boundaries when they had situations where adults had bad boundaries around them. If that was what affected your ability to set boundaries with others and also set healthy expectations in relationships – you’ll benefit from some short term therapy to help you with that.

  9. Don’t worry about it! Be yourself. Who cares about other people’s opinions. Dont let other people’s opinions of you change your opinion of yourself. In ten years you could have all the happiness and wealth in the world. For real bro.

  10. What a great topic. Seriously, this is the stuff people write books about and teach seminars on. It’s no small thing.

    Here’s the best thing I can offer you: shift away from attempts to be in control of your life, and seek to be *in command* of your life.

    There’s never enough control. Too many outside variables. As a result, people who focus on feeling in control tend to incur a lot of stress and anger at anything that they realize they can’t control.

    If you accept that you can’t control anything outside of yourself, but you can control how you react to everything you experience, then you have a way to be in command of your life. Sometimes standing up for yourself means using your voice, but sometimes it means not saying a word because you understand the other person will never truly hear you, and the real solution is to not interact with that person anymore.

    This world needs more kindness, not less. Refine your sense of boundaries while keeping your compassion for others. While we all have times when we wish we told someone to go fuck themselves, the research shows that at the end of life that’s not one of the most common regrets.

    If people are calling you “soft” there may be some truth to that, but seriously, I’d be more concerned with why these people aren’t telling you what they love and appreciate about you. The people that will ride or die for you aren’t the ones telling you to toughen up.

    Tell us more about what you value, what’s important to you. Let’s keep the conversation going.

  11. No tips. You just continue being soft until you can’t take it anymore because you hit rock bottom. *Then* you will change, because you have to toughen up to survive the next twenty-four hours. It’s as simple as that.

  12. Tough isn’t the goal, soft isn’t a weakness. Don’t let those ideas of soft or tough get into you, thats not a healthy idea to nurture.

    I would total suggest therapy on the list of things to look into. It won’t make you tougher but it will help you get an understanding of yourself and understand what has you so easy to be abused. I say abuse because I don’t know of better word to describe the feeling I get when reading your comment.

    Hit the gym. Guys derive so much confidence and mental fortitude just by feeling stronger. It’s not an over night thing but it’s one of those things that can help you feel more in control when you are in those tense situations.

    Teasing is half insult, half trying to force a reaction. Not reacting is half the solution, firing back is the other half. You don’t(and I don’t recommend it) have to insult/tease them back but acknowledge whether the teasing is legitimate can take the wind out of a lot teasing attempts. It proves you know of your weakness and you aren’t ashamed of it.

    People taking advantage of you typically means you don’t have well developed boundaries and you aren’t protecting those boundaries. It takes a bit of will and being forceful but protect those boundaries. It will feel like shit and you will feel like a monster and some people will call you that for making them but it is important that you protect your boundaries.

    Here is the fun suggestion (/s), you realistically probably need to cut some people out of your life. If you are bothered by the teasing, by people taking advantage of you, making you feel like you can’t stand up; those people probably shouldn’t be in your life. Thats a step you can take to control back.

  13. Martial arts or boxing and fix this quickly if you stick to it and challenge yourself. Not martial arts or boxing in your bedroom in front of a mirror either, really go out – find a covid safe trainer or join a gym with good practice around social distancing. Learn to fight.

  14. Lots of good advice here but I would say get yourself to the gym. I also recommend Les Mills classes (body pump, combat, attack and CX works – you can get these online too) and Athlean X on YouTube is brilliant.

  15. One thing I’ve found helpful with this type of stuff is mindfulness. Just being aware of “hey, someone is being a dick to me” and “This person bumped into me, they should apologize”. Meditation can help with this, headspace is a great app for that and it’s not weird or mystical.

  16. Lift weights bro.

    Easy for me to say as I know where your coming from. But trust me, have that belief in yourself then it will show to others. Build a timetable, a routine and soon enough the routine will just become life. After 6 months to a year you’ll be a new man.

    This is my journey too.

  17. Start lifting weights, not so you can beat people up or anything. There’s something really satisfying about lugging heavy weight around and you’ll feel really good afterward, at least I do. The more you do it and the heavier you lift the better you will feel.

  18. Get a manual labor job. Do concrete, or framing, or roofing something like that if you last a year you’ll be hard enough, but ya like the other guy said marines also works if you are looking for hard af.

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