During his lifetime in the late 1800s, German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche quoted, “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger”; a passage so identifiable that a century and a half later it still routinely drips of the tongue by many, with real acknowledgement for its meaning.
From a position of strength – after the event – it’s perhaps easier to declare, but I wonder how many, in the eye of a traumatic or challenging storm, are so confident in the potential of their resilience. If we were readily able to be so bolstered by our own selves and our capacity to weather all that life throws at us, I wonder too if counselling support would even be necessary…. but I digress.
I really do encounter some fabulous people with equally fabulous reflections, and Nietzsche’s quote came to me recently when a client summarised their changing perceptions within our work by recognising the value of having to experience hardship to reach the developmental place they had since come to (recounted with permission).
In their well-considered dialogue, the basis of the reflection was that only through encountering real adversity had they learned and fully grown as a person, with a poignant belief that before then they had merely existed. I mean, wow!
Taking the path of least resistance, not rocking the boat, just wanting a quiet life… how many times I’ve heard these phrases from people within my work and also my personal life. Yet here was a client, in retrospect, now clearly grateful for having experienced adversity.
I was once told an analogy that fits this thought well, of a half-filled glass of water that the drinker wants to be topped up to gain more. As more liquid pours in, the surface of the water already in the glass is disturbed…yet the process cannot be achieved without this period of unsettledness occurring, and when the disturbance is over, the water calms and settles, only now at a higher level.
What satisfaction then to see my client’s glass continuing to fill higher and higher…