What doesn’t kill you…

I have come to truly despise nonsense quasi-philosophical motivational phrases. In short they are phrases such as: ‘cheer up’ and ‘move on’; elongated they read: “Every cloud has a silver lining” and “when a door closes a window opens”.

Often these are rather clever little wordings set to induce the hearer with some underlying take-home message. Occasionally, said for the sake to induce hope in dark situations, occasionally to provoke guilt at the hearers own responsibility, but always to generate a cause of action, alteration in world view or emotional state.

It goes without saying that I am a huge fan of clever wordplay, yet clever wordplay gets you only so far. To encourage actions and emotional response with clever wording is simply not good enough, unless of course you happen to have an accompanying Wiki-how page, a DIY-manual or ‘IKEA-assembly instructions’ to go with them. Sadly, there seems to be no 12-steps program to ‘cheer up’, nor do anyone seem to have the blueprints to where that window supposedly opened.

The worst of these phrases are those that based on limited understanding and wannabe ideals aim to explain how human emotions functions. Possibly my most loathed one is: “Time heals all wounds”. No, it bloody hell doesn’t! Whoever thought up this nonsense must have been spared anything more severe than a paper cut. If not, that person would know that wounds do not always heal. They get inflamed, infected, infested. If they do heal they leave scars, handicaps, disfigures. Occasionally they even kill you. No, obviously time does not heal all wounds, eventually you just accept that you are forced to live with it.

Following that flavor is possibly an even bigger lie of a cliché: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. I mean have you ever heard such a load of horse dung? In my life I have hurt several body parts. All of which still, and most likely for the rest of my life will, cause severe troubles. My skin is covered in scars, discolorations, burns, stretch marks and other of life’s happenings. Displaying an accurate recollection of some of the ‘bad stories’ of my physical life.

Naturally the body is an excellent adaptor to different situations. Repeated strain on hands and feet turns blisters into hardened tissue and broken bones grow harder after healing. However, this is hardly a sign of strength. It demonstrate the body’s skill to protect itself against further damage by identifying its weak spots. In logical consequence it is a sign of weakness. The soul, I believe, work much like this. Mild blisters turn into hardened skin, bleeding wounds turn into scars and broken ‘bones’ turn into handicaps. No, what doesn’t kill you does not make you stronger, it makes you harder.

Perhaps it is because they are hidden, that emotional handicaps and scars are treated with less respect than physical ones. So our insides hide under a hardened exoskeleton, painfully bleeding and rotting. Safe from peeping-Toms who feel like forcing their possibly well-meaning motivational nonsense onto us. Leaving us free from the guilt that we could not simply ‘move on’ nor, in the moment, register that promised silver lining.

I guess my point is that (most) motivational words are like homeopathy, watered down from substance. Abstracted away from any cure and no amount thereof could ever heal a broken soul. Hurts may fade, bleached into the ever evolving self, but what has been broken, remains broken.

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