I hate the phrase “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
I know, hate is a strong word. But when people say, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” they’re perpetuating a massive lie. And I can’t stand it because when I’m trying to help people have better lives, it’s a whole lot harder because of this lie.
The reason I say it’s a lie is because it’s a huge misconception of how to build strength of character in children. And people condone their parents for doing it to them, all the time. Perpetuating this lie is irresponsible, cavalier, careless or at best, ignorant.
Building Strength of Character
Now, I can admit, yes, if you had perfectly supportive, empathetic parents, there is truth in the statement. But there’s only one person I can think of in this category — and his name is Mr. Rogers.
Overwhelming experiences in childhood that are moderated by loving, comforting adults who truly see, feel, and understand a child will indeed make a stronger child and ultimately a stronger adult.
How to Build a Weak Character
But the reality is that when children are overwhelmed, helpless or afraid at the hands of their parents (which happens WAY more than anyone wants to admit), they actually become WEAKER adults, not stronger ones.
Kids that are not comforted sufficiently by loving, empathetic adults, became more fearful and less empathetic.
Yeah, they might look emotionally impenetrable or “strong.” But that’s a rigid facade. They’re generally “white knuckling” life and getting a lot of help from legal and illegal drugs.
They live with anxiety, depression, anger outbursts, addiction problems, chronic health issues, relationship problems… you name it.
And that’s because mental and physical chronic health issues are the RESULT of being in overwhelming situations as a young person that didn’t kill you.
Those experiences don’t build strength. They make you less flexible and more susceptible to breaking under stress. You are not stronger. you are WEAKER.
There are many, many ways to manage all those chronic mental and physical health issues, yes. And we all learn them. But without addressing the problem at the core, you will always struggle and suffer unnecessarily with this root cause.
Indeed, you can be sharpened by adversity, but not when it happens too early on. And not when you are isolated from or rejected by your parents when you are afraid, overwhelmed, or helpless. Too much, too soon is not a good thing.
We’re a little like tempered metal. By heating it to a certain temperature you make it stronger, but overdo it and the metal is fundamentally weaker and more brittle.
Rebuild and Strengthen Your Foundation
The road to true strength of character and the elimination of chronic mental and physical anguish lies in retrofitting the foundations of your personality.
Giving up the false stability of rigid inflexibility will set you free from pain.
You will be strong and unyielding when you need to be; and easily able to be flexible, receptive, and feel pleasure and intimacy when you want to.
If you’re ready to retrofit your foundations and be able to feel the joy and pleasure life has to offer, call me. We’ll talk.