From the title of this post, I reckon you can tell I am not a fan of this well-known and often used aphorism. I watched an old episode of Hell’s Kitchen the other day with my husband and one of the participants in the show said it to another participant who had broken down crying, which is what prompts me to pen some words on this particular thread.
For whatever reason, this aphorism seems to me to be close cousins of another unfortunately common saying: If I can do it, you can do it.
At face value and generally speaking: both sayings are nonsense.
Have I mentioned lately: words matter?
It would be much more accurate to say: What doesn’t kill us may make us stronger. Because the thing is: sometimes, maybe even oftentimes, the challenges/hardships/struggle/turmoil/or trauma we face serves as a means to shut us down, and armor us up against a world we deem as out to get us.
In order for times of difficulty to become an opportunity for us to grow stronger, we must have access, and make use of, such faculties that will enable growth to take place. We need tools, training, and understanding in order to make good use of our suffering. Without proper tools, training, and understanding, we tend to simply spin around and around with our suffering, until we allow our self to become dominated and exhausted by it.
Additionally, if we are to make use of this aphorism in its original wording, it’s important to have proper timing. As in the case I mentioned briefly above from Hell’s Kitchen: using it as some kind of blanket salve to toss at someone who is actively struggling is not considerate, helpful or kind. Really, I think if we are to keep this saying in our phrase-bank, it’s worth only applying it in regards to our own self and never to others, not even in jest.
I think we must be quite careful at what words we bandy about. How we communicate with others – and how we communicate internally with our self – makes a difference. Too often we subscribe to the it’s-no-big-deal/stop-being-so-sensitive way of seeing things. This is not only unfortunate but it can also be incredibly detrimental.
Once again, have I mentioned: words matter?
May we each task our self with upping our game in the communication with others department, especially when it comes to things we say when others are going through a hard time. Gosh, we’re just collectively really bad with words – and I for sure include myself in the mix here. I’m actively working on it, though, which feels like a step in the right direction.