General Question

Jude's avatar

What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger. True?

Asked by Jude (32198points) July 12th, 2010

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

51 Answers

kenmc's avatar

“Father always used to say, ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ until the accident.”

—Jimmy Carr

cazzie's avatar

Absolutely. You have to build on your strengths. If you experience something, you have to build on it. If not, it cripples you.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar


Austinlad's avatar

As are most cliches, this one is too pat and flip. I’m still alive, so obviously nothing has yet killed me. Yet I honestly can’t say many things that haven’t done me in have made me stronger. Having said that, many things I’ve learned and done have made me better, smarter and stronger, thank goodness.

theichibun's avatar

So if you go to war, get captured, and come back with mental issues including PTSD you’re stronger because you’re not dead? I don’t think so.

liminal's avatar

I’ve wondered this too. Those things have taught me to navigate the weights of despair and hardship. Strength and hope can be found in the “this too shall pass” experience.

Yet, those things have also made me vulnerable and guarded in ways that sometimes keep me from thriving and connecting with life. Staying an open person when faced with a potentially “this could kill” me scenario is an art I suspect I will be crafting the rest of my life.

@jjmah I’m beginning to wonder if something heart crushing has happened with you.

TexasDude's avatar


cazzie's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard I know a couple very strong human beings that happen to be stuck in wheelchairs.

Sarcasm's avatar

@cazzie But are they strong because they’re in wheelchairs?

Jude's avatar

@liminal It’s family. I’ll be okay, though.

Cruiser's avatar

The Grim Reaper has taken some good cracks at me but I’m still here Bwa Ha Ha!!

TexasDude's avatar

@cazzie, I do too. I’m not commenting on their strength or anything. It’s just a play on the saying I heard. Sorry.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Unless it weakens your immune system. Think HIV.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

It is true to some extent in some cases.

It is pleasing to think that overcoming physical or emotional injury makes you more resilient.

There is a big difference between surviving such injury and overcoming it’s impact.
With effort, support, and sometimes the help of professionals, some people manage to grow and become more resilient in the process of dealing with major crisis involving their physical and /or mental health.

Others continue to push on through life, still wounded, still hurting and feeling like they’ll wretch if someone says that ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ . It focuses them on their pain and makes them feel weak and powerless.

cazzie's avatar

@Sarcasm No, they’re not strong just because they are in wheelchairs. They are strong because they haven’t turned their back on who they are.

gemiwing's avatar

Well, I suppose that would depend on what one does with the pain. I would say it’s an opportunity for growth, yet that growth isn’t guaranteed.

CMaz's avatar

Yes. It’s all about life lessons.

BoBo1946's avatar

There’s always a lot to be thankful for if you take time to look for it. For example, I am sitting here thinking how nice it is that wrinkles don’t hurt!

frienemies0113's avatar

The saying is true, but my life follows the what hurts you makes you stronger. When your being beaten up and taunted, your mind and body builds a sheild to protect you. everytime that happens you get tougher and tougher. but yes the saying is true, if the opposite, we’d be dead.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

I think the better phrase is “that which doesn’t break you makes you stronger”. It has room for creating mental instability, comatose states, etc. And cigarette smoke just makes you weak.

@boots he’s one of my favorite comedians.

janbb's avatar

I think it’s one of those “truisms” that the more you think about, the less true it is. Some pains kill you, some make you stronger, and some make you huddle in a corner of the room afraid to go out. What’s the lesson of that kind of pain?

stratman37's avatar

Words to live by! I LOVE that saying.

tinyfaery's avatar

That’s just the way we rationalize the random, painful, chaos of the universe. I’m alive, but my psyche has been forever damaged by certain experiences. I am not stronger because of them, but I am learning to cope.

seekingwolf's avatar

Not always, I don’t believe.

It all depends on the person and their outlook on life. Many people go through horrific events of all sorts. Some come out stronger because they have learned life lessons and have re-built themselves up again. Others are just “broken” inside in many ways because they dwell and do not have the right mindset. I have seen this happen a lot with “trust issues” from bad relationships. That one bad relationships can screw up one person for many other relationships in the future. :(

It’s sad. hardships don’t ALWAYS make you stronger…it’s up to you to deal with things so you become stronger.

cazzie's avatar

@janbb it’s the choice we make. That pain you talk about that ‘makes’ you huddle in the corner… it only ‘makes’ you if you let it.

Jude's avatar

I’m going to curl up and watch Alice in Wonderland (a distraction). Anyone want to join?

janbb's avatar

@cazzie Perhaps, but I do believe there are some traumas that are useless as learning/growing experiences none-the-less. What was the value to my life or even psychic strength of having a brother die when I was four and he was six?

mammal's avatar

or old, bitter and cynical….personally i prefer What is poison to the weak, strengthens the strong and he does not call it poison either

Jeruba's avatar

It’s a saying. It has a certain truth to it, in that enduring hardships can teach you your own strength, typically greater than you thought it was. It’s hardly a guarantee of anything. What doesn’t kill you outright can weaken you and precipitate you closer to death, including a death without resistance or dignity.

The line is attributed to the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche: “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” He didn’t have such a very happy life and probably needed ideas like this to keep him going. Madness certainly did not make him stronger.

So take heart from the notion if it gives you heart, but don’t regard it as a predictor of real experience.

netgrrl's avatar

I’m late with this, but I find it essentially true. The tough times I’ve lived through have become a benchmark for events in my life. “Ok, this is bad, but I went through that and that and even this and I survived. I can do this too.”

Dutchess_III's avatar

It really depends on what the It is, I think. Coming through life’s trials and being the wiser for it, yes. But like someone pointed out, coming through a war and being traumatized for life….not so much. Or childhood abuse….

aveffects's avatar

Absolutely true what it means is your learn from your experiences

stardust's avatar

As has been mentioned, it depends on what one does with that pain. I believe every hardship provides an opportunity for growth. That can only lead to strength. Overall, I don’t believe it to be an absolute truth.

Aster's avatar

Does this mean each time we approach death we’ll be made stronger if we don’t die??
I’d rather be weak, thanks. making a silk purse outta a sow’s ear

JLeslie's avatar

Haven’t read the above answers, but here is mine. It’s true. But, going through sucky stuff sucks. I would rather have had an easier life and been a little weaker.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

My late wife was a prime example of that maxim.


It truly depends on what you are talking about. The more you are in contact with poison oak the more you become allergic to it. The more you are stung by bees, the more you become allergic to it. However, the more you run, the stronger your legs become. If you drink water in Mexico as a child and grow up with it, you apparently become immune to it. If I drink it, it would probably kill me.

JLeslie's avatar

@RANGIEBABY I think the expression, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, refers to emotional pain typically.

Frteach's avatar

I know I’m new here, so maybe I don’t understand the true set-up for these questions and responses, but…

I believe many of those who answered have misunderstood the saying. I take it to mean that life knocks you down. It doesn’t play fair. It hurts. It even stomps on you from time to time, or often. But if you can mentally, emotionally, physically, or spiritually get back up and stay in the game, you are stronger for it. Awful things have happened to me in the past, but because of having survived them, I can empathize with a friend going through something similar. That makes me a better friend. Then when the next blow comes along, I (hopefully) will be confident that I can take that one, too, and that it can force me to become a better person. Like steel sharpens steel…

[In other words, just what @netgrrl said.]

Frteach's avatar

@frienemies0113 – love your van Gogh

filmfann's avatar

My fathers first heart attack didn’t kill him, but he certainly wasn’t stronger afterwards.

jonsblond's avatar

I’ll curl up and watch it with you @jjmah. (((hugs)))

@tinyfaery hit the nail on the head. Our family has been having a terrible time the past year. Everything is breaking down (cars, wiring of the house, plumbing,) no money to fix things, blah blah blah. Now my mom is dealing with having two brain aneurysms, and all the material things don’t mean that much anymore. I don’t feel stronger, I actually feel very fragile, but I’m slowly learning to cope.

JLeslie's avatar

@jonsblond Man, you have been through it lately. So sorry to here about your mother. Not that the other things you mention aren’t stressful also, but as you say the health of loved ones makes all of the material things not mean much. But, I know it all matters in the end, it sounds overwhelming. Hope things get easier for you soon.

mattbrowne's avatar

Very often, yes. But there are exceptions. Unhealthy and an excessive amount of food will not kill you (right away), but after some time it will make you weaker.

AliasTJ's avatar

It either makes us stronger and wiser or colder and meaner. I depends on the person.

Berserker's avatar

Philosophically, I believe so. That’s up to anyone to make it what they will.

woodcutter's avatar

most of the time yes, or what doesn’t kill you ate somebody else?

Pandora's avatar

Not true if you were weak of character already.

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther