You know the cliché: “What don’t kill you makes you stronger.”
Sounds really wise. It’s meant to buck people up when something goes wrong or they are having a rough time.
The problem is, much of the time, it isn’t true.
While it is important to know that most troubles don’t last forever, this cliché is often used to deny pain, write it off, minimize it, anything but experience it.
There are lots of things that don’t kill us that can damage us emotionally. They include sexual assault, physical and emotional abuse, loss of important relationships, chronic overwork, chronic illness, chronic financial problems, terrible disappointments. All of these experiences involve loss and need to be acknowledged and their pain felt and expressed.
Imagine saying to a five year old, whose dog got killed by a car, “Hey, kid, buck up, what don’t kill you, makes you stronger.”
If you wouldn’t say it to a child, why would you say it to yourself?
Here is another cliché: When we bury pain, we bury it alive.
Unacknowledged pain sits inside us and affects our lives. It may not kill us, but it surely does not make us stronger.
Plain and Simple Advice
When something painful happens in your life, acknowledge it, experience it. Grief is our minds way of healing. Your pain can hurt a lot for a while, or it can hurt a little forever.