Surely suffering and frustration make us stronger?

“Surely suffering and frustration make us stronger?”

Good grief no!

Suffering and frustration are worthless. They tend to harm, not help, our ability to solve problems. They do not help us to learn how not to suffer next time something horrible happens, they impair our creativity – the very creativity that might otherwise enable us to create real solutions, thus, if anything, they increase the likelihood of future suffering.

“I’m not sure that’s true. What about people who have been tortured and abused, who after that, nothing can touch?”

What has happened in such cases is that they have had to in effect kill off whole aspects of their personality in order to survive. Similarly, a continually rejected child may become inured to rejection, but only because he becomes unable to form, or even to want, relationships that leave him vulnerable to rejection. In neither case does this imply that the person is stronger and more able to solve problems. On the contrary, such individuals’ minds have more areas of thinking in which no progress can be made than they might otherwise.

“Why do you talk about helping our children learn to deal with coercion by others then?”

Suffering does not help people learn. Coercion is painful. If we can find ways of making it less likely that we or our children will be coerced and suffer when Granny says something mean, then that seems like a good idea. That is very different from saying that suffering itself would help us learn anything.

See also:

Sarah Fitz-Claridge, Taking Children Seriously FAQ: ‘Surely suffering and frustration make us stronger?’,

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