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Does adversity really make you stronger? Probably not.

We have often heard the statement that “You will emerge stronger from adversity”, “What does not kill you will strengthen you” etc. Is this really true or is it something we tell ourselves to comfort ourselves? One of those myths of life?

Adversity is a very stressful event in our lives. Business loss, Death of loved ones, Sudden health issues, loss of job, property, loss of respect/status etc are some examples of adverse events. When a person goes through such events, it really shocks the system - both the body and the mind. The person actually becomes weaker. Even if some of the adverse events pass and life is restored to pre-adverse days, the shock to the system does not wear off.

A parent who loses a child to an accident, illness or some other violent death never really recovers from such an event. It would leave them weakened for life. A part of them is dead. A person who loses his business to any cause suffers a deep loss and even if people around him rally and support him through the crisis it would be very difficult for him to get back to the original level of cheer and optimism. He may establish another business and move on but the adverse event would have scarred him permanently.

When a person discovers infidelity on the part of their married partner, it destroys meaning and faith in the institution of marriage and people and sometimes god too. How does it make them stronger? They may put up a brave face and go about as if they can handle the event. But the shocks are for life.

We can easily understand someone becoming physically weaker because of illness, accident etc. We are ready to empathise with them. But we have this mistaken notion that adverse event somehow makes a person mentally stronger. I could be wrong but my experience says adverse event really causes a lot of stress to the human psyche and weakens it not strengthen it for the individual.

Perhaps one way a person becomes different after adversity is in the spiritual dimension. Adversity changes the meaning of life for many people and they could become more/less spiritual and less/more materialistic in their lives. Their interest in life could change in a different direction. But does it make them stronger? You tell me.

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