Tough Times Really Do Make Us Stronger


barbellNewsflash: Your mom was right! You know that expression "What doesn't kill us makes us stronger"? (I guess the maxim was actually borrowed from Nietzsche.) Turns out it wasn't just a pretty phrase. Difficult life events -- the death of a loved one, divorce, job loss, illness, assault, or a natural disaster -- actually do help people become more resilient and better able to cope with future difficulties, a new study has found.

In fact, according to researchers, overcoming adversity affects us not only psychologically -- helping us to feel more confident and boosting our coping skills -- but also physiologically, promoting cell growth in the areas of our brains we use to deal with stress and making us better able to confront future difficulties and even to more easily withstand physical pain.

Of course, the results of this study are interesting from an intellectual point of view. Our brains adjust to trauma in order to make us better able to cope? That's fascinating! But beyond that, they also probably resonate with many of us emotionally. We know -- instinctively and from experience -- that it can be tough going when we're dealing with a personal loss -- of a job, of a loved one, of a relationship.

When you're in the middle of those down times, it may be hard to imagine ever coming back up into the air and the light. Still, it's important for us to remember that we will survive those tough times -- and so many of us are facing tough times right now -- and that when we do, our suffering will not have been for naught.

We will come out stronger, tougher, more resilient -- better able to cope with whatever life throws at us next. What doesn't kill us really does make us stronger, just like our moms told us. Next thing you know, researchers will confirm she was right about that "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all" thing, too!

Do you feel you've emerged stronger from the difficulties you've faced in life?


Image via ericmcgregor/Flickr

emotional health, stress


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KenneMaw KenneMaw

Absolutely!   At 44, I have experienced so much heartache, loss, trauma and drama.   Dealing with the bad times, accepting the situation and moving forward is definitely character building.   Because of all that I have dealt with, I get confused when so many people want to shield their children frm possible pain - like the loss of a pet or refusing to let them attend the funeral of a loved one.   As parents, it is our job to teach them how to cope and that life continues matter how bad things are, the sun always comes up the next day.  

CPN322 CPN322

^^^totally agree! But I'm not 44, I'm 25, and I've experienced more pain and suffering in my 25 years of life then most people will ever experience. My loved ones are constantly telling me how strong I am just to be here today, living, still being nice to people and mostly trying to be positive. People just need to be reminded of this. That alone I think would help people a lot.

godde... goddess99

I have always agreed with that statement. That which does not kill us makes us stronger.

Ravynlea Ravynlea

right now, i just feel like i was run over by a truck. then a train.i am completely exhausted on every level of my being. but maybe it will make me stronger one day. if i survive, you can call me superwoman.

dixie... dixiegurl223626

I agree! I think tough times make a person stronger!


Yes. Without struggle, there is not room for growth.

slw123 slw123


nonmember avatar Allyson

After surviving cancer, an emotionally abusive relationship (simultaneously) and over 16 years of fights (financial and otherwise) with my daughter's father, I still get down when things happen. But I always know that I will come out the other side intact and sane (some would say that's a relative term). There's not much life can throw at me now that I can't handle. Yes, it's tough at the time, but I will survive.

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