When Do Inspirational Quotes Become Damaging Instructions?

Social media is jam packed with inspirational quotes and some of these strike a cord with us. Sometimes a little sentence can make a big difference to our day.

But sometimes I come across what seem to be well intentioned quotes that are a little misguided. This (without my less-than-subtle purple question mark) was on a Facebook page focused on 'women's empowerment' and 'supportive sisterhood' and it felt all wrong to me. It felt disempowering. It felt based in fear. It felt coercive. And here's why.

'Make that phonecall. Send that text. Forgive that person. Tell them you love them. Or that you've missed them. Let go of that grudge.'

You see, there are reasons why you haven't phoned, texted or contacted that person. You may still hold a grudge, and you have your own reasons for that. You may have forgiven them and there's a reason for that too. Forgiveness is an act of courage required to release yourself - not another - and sometimes you are not in the right place in the healing process to forgive.

'Show more kindness.' Showing kindness is an offering. Not everyone wants our offering or will accept the gifting of our hearts with grace. This is OK. We don't know each other's sorrows. Sometimes they are so great that sharing the light of your kindness with another reveals the extent of the darkness of their pain and they cannot bear it. Sometimes there is a familiarity - a comfort - in darkness.

'Don't take any of it for granted.'

We all take things for granted and yes, ofcourse we should encourage ourselves to stop and see what we have every day. But taking things for granted is an unfortunate aspect of our lived experience in a society that's geared towards highlighting what you don't have in order to sell it to you. Sometimes we get swept away by the hive mind and we forget what we *do* have. If we don't remind ourselves, the cosmos has its own ways of doing that for us.

'Because tomorrow isn't promised.'

Tomorrow will always come. It's true that one day we'll not have our own tomorrow but it will always come, with or without us. And we should not be encouraged to feel that, because one day we will die or that someone we know will, that we have to reconnect with those we feel have done us harm, or that continue to harm us. Neither should we continue to offer the gifts of our hearts to those who eschew them. These are actions based on fear and guilt, and not from a place of love and respect for our boundaries and those of others.

Live your life day by day. Some days you'll be swept up in the collective consciousness, asleep at your own wheel. Other days you'll be kind, forgiving and loving to yourself and the world around you, awake and alive. Sometimes you'll have everything in one day. That's the glorious mess of being human, and that in itself is pretty inspirational.

Andrea 💗 Copyright © Flourish and contributors 19th Feb 2020


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