a work in progress

a look back at annoying clichés

A little over a year ago I wrote about different expressions that I found aggravating. It was a very uplifting post. At some point between then and now I’ve become a much slightly less cynical person who no longer believes that the universe is placing obstacles in front of me for its own amusement.

Nevertheless, I find myself being tested daily. Let’s say I sit down to a guided meditation and I’m really into it. I’m lying there, completely at peace and feeling like I’m amazing. And then I am suddenly aware that the speaker is dangerously close to one of those dreaded clichés. I’m ripped from a state of bliss and forced to either fake my way through the rest of the meditation or confront my discomfort. This has obviously never happened, but let’s just say it did…

Below are some of the phrases that maybe bother me from time to time :

You are exactly where you need to be. While this platitude still frustrates me because there is no way to argue it, I now believe that it is true. Life is about big picture stuff that we simply cannot understand in the moment. I need to stop worrying about where I am and how far it is from where I’d like to end up, and this is a reminder that I’m on a longer journey.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  This one never made me feel better about the struggles I faced. I was tired of these “opportunities” to become stronger and felt that I deserved a rest. But who would I be without my trying experiences? Would I be a better person? I’m not sure that I would. Would I be a happier person? Maybe, but it would be a reactionary happiness and not one that I created. I need to be grateful for these opportunities to look inward for strength and joy rather than letting my mood or self-worth be secondary to what happens to me.

Everything happens for a reason. I have a much easier time accepting rules, ideas, or anything, really, when I am privy to the logic behind it. I like to assign explanation to what happens. Still, I struggle with this one. The problem occurs when I think I’ve identified the reason and feel that it’s unjustified. In those situations, however, it’s highly likely that although I’m convinced I know a reason for something I don’t actually have all the information.

You wouldn’t appreciate the good times if there weren’t bad times. Is this really true? I’m not entirely sure. One thing I do believe, however, is that the “bad” times aren’t ever all “bad.” There is beauty, peace, and opportunity in those moments when everything seems to be going wrong. So, while I don’t believe that I’d undervalue the good if I didn’t experience the bad, I think that there’s a labeling issue and we need to alter our perception of those “bad” days.

Life doesn’t give us things we can’t handleOkay, I get this. If you believe you are exactly where you’re supposed to be at any time then we should be able to handle our set of circumstances, right? What is it, then, about this that I find so frustrating? I think this phrase to meant to empower us [a You can do it! sort of idea], but it kind of makes me feel like I’m being told to suck it up, which I find unhelpful. Wording issues aside, I do have a better and slightly more positive reaction to this phrase than I used to.

Sometimes people rely on clichés because they don’t know what else to say. It’s easy to get our feelings hurt and draw the conclusion that they don’t understand, are uncaring, or are belittling our experience. I can’t blame people for this. The real issue concerns why these phrases get to me. Do they pick at the idea that I look to others to validate how I’m feeling or the fear that I am not strong enough to handle this alone? Is it something else that I have yet to even consider?

So much room to grow! How fantastically daunting is that?!


  • linda maumus

    I want to comment, but for once I’m at a loss for words. I’ll just say that I’m grateful to know such a thoughtful (full of thoughts) person. Wishing my children would express themselves to me in such a way. xo

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