When The Going Gets Tough

During difficult times I find that people often say similar things and some of those things I really could do without as they are neither useful nor helpful.

Whether it’s something that you’ve once said yourself or something that you’ve been offered during a tough time, I’m sure that you’ll recognise a few of the following lines:

  1. “Every cloud has a silver lining.”
  2. “Try to think positive.”
  3. “Don’t give up hope.”
  4. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
  5. “Small Steps – take it a step at a time.”
  6. “Try not to think of your glass as half empty – it’s half full.”
  7. “You’ve got this.”
  8. “There are worse things in the World.”
  9. “Don’t overthink things.”
  10. ‘It is what it is.”

I’d like to offer my present and current answers to some of these phrases as I’m getting a little sick of hearing them:

“Every cloud has a silver lining.”

Having used aviation for many years I can assure you that clouds have no lining, certainly not of a silver-tone. It’s all very well looking for the good in the bad but only hindsight will ever offer such a gift.

“Try to think positive.”

Well yes, you could spend all day thinking positive and come the evening be deeply disappointed! I’d much rather prepare myself for the worst, then anything other than that is surely a bonus?

“Don’t give up hope.”

I’ve found that sometimes it’s much easier to let go of all hope than to hold onto desperate dreams and desires only to suffer further disappointment.

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

I seriously disagree with this statement as whilst each and every sticky situation seems to bring about an element of experience, it’s far more likely to knock the person’s confidence and to chip away at their self-esteem thus surely making the individual weaker rather than stronger?

“Small steps – take each day a step at a time.”

This phrase really annoys me as unless we were all running around like headless chickens we’d obviously be taking steps each day, those steps may be in any direction and whilst they may be small or wide steps, they are just steps?!

The half-empty glass theory

It doesn’t make a difference as to whether your glass happens to be ‘half-empty’ or ‘half-full’, you’re surely going to require a top-up at some point?

“You’ve got this.”

Well yes, the situation is indeed happening and therefore it seems to be something that a particular person is dealing with or ‘has’. It doesn’t really help therefore to suggest that they’ve ‘got it’!

“There are worse things in the World.”

Indeed there most likely are far worse situations than the one in question but then surely that’s only discrediting the issue which is at hand?

“Don’t overthink things.”

Easier said than done! Even if you were to bury your head in a bucket of sand the likelihood is that at some point you will think about whatever it is that happens to be the issue. The term ‘Don’t overthink things’ just seems like another way of saying “don’t go on about it”.

“It is what it is.”

Well yes, it is but surely it could be another way? More to the point, how the heck is that statement helpful?

When The Going Gets Tough

The number of times that I’ve been offered one of the above phrases as some sort of comfort is beyond measure. I know that people mean well and quite often don’t really know what to say during difficult times but I’m so tired of listening to these lines.

I myself am not really sure what I’d offer as an alternative to the above. I would, however, suggest that if you’ve got a friend or a family member who’s struggling then be careful to consider what you’re saying as well-meaning as it may be, don’t patronise them, don’t discredit their issue, just try to listen, try to understand and more than anything – be there.



1 Comment

  1. March 9, 2020 / 4:12 pm

    Oh Rachel, you must be going through such a hard time. Your positivity is at an all time low. We all have these phrases that get to us and make us feel worse, even when the person saying it means well. I remember when my Mum died people keeps saying how it gets better with time or that time was a great healer. At the time I was only living in the moment and that moment hurt like hell and it needed to hurt, I didnt want to heal, I wanted the pain because it was all I had left. I believe the phrases you are commenting on are the standard ‘trying to be kind’ phrases and I think you realise that no harm is meant. The only one that really bothers me is the ‘worst things in the world’ or ‘it could be worse’ because everyone’s pain and distress is personal, and it doesn’t really help that their are people starving or without a roof over their heads, because it doesn’t actually make you feel any better no matter how worse it is for someone else. I really hope things become easier for you soon, it’s horrible seeing you so sad. xx

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