Whatever doesn’t kill you…

…typically leaves behind a scar; the further traumatic the event, the deeper the mark.
This occurred to me for no particular current reason, aside of hearing someone at a cafe quoting Friedrich Nietzsche’s saying “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”
Apparently this topic had been scientifically researched. One curious conclusion (if you don’t feel like reading the entire article,) is that “those who experienced many difficult life events were found to be more distressed in general – but the same was true of some who had not faced any.” This is a topic for another discussion (people who distress without having anything to be really distressed about,) but all in all, the researchers seem to side with Nietzsche.

I look at human scar tissue as a physiological metaphor for the result of an emotional trauma. Some of us were born with a thicker protective skin, while others may develop a coating scar tissue after repeated injuries. It is, after all, nature’s clever way of providing better shielding for areas in our body exposed to, for example repeat rubbing due to manual labor. The downside of such a sheath, is reduced sensitivity, as well as less flexibility in face of a real storm. Much like a tree brunch unable to flex under the blow of strong wind, thus giving way and breaking down. I have seen people who wore emotional iron masks, crack, when the pressure peaked over its level of tolerance. The problem with such a shield is that it not only protects one from the outside but also locks what forces build to erupt from the inside. Just imagine a gremlin locked inside a microwave. 🙂

This brings me back to my original line of thought: it is not that I disagree with Nietzsche (at least not on this,) or with the researchers, but that I find the saying somewhat simplified when considering the complexities of life’s traumatic events. Telling a driver of a car, who survived a fatal accident in which the rest of his family perished, that if he manages to live through it, it will make him stronger, seems to me insensitive if not plain stupid. Thus the expression of “whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger,” is one I plan to avoid giving others as an advice, even, well, even if it kills me…

Learned from: a comment at a coffee shop


About Ronen

Ronen Divon had been walking spiritual and holistic paths for well over thirty years. Born in Israel, educated in New York, and currently residing in North Carolina, Ronen had traveled the world, spending time with teachers, masters, healers and guides. With wisdom that spans multiple traditions, including the Far East, India, Israel, Brazil, Peru, and Native America, Ronen remains a student, learning and adding modalities that will best serve his clients, each according to their own unique needs. Ronen is also a published author, a Yoga, Meditation, and Tai Chi instructor.
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