I’ve never met a strong person with an easy past

Strength is hard won. No one can buy it for you. Give it to you. Leave it for you in their will. Strength is built from challenge, from difficulty, from overcoming.

When you deprive someone of life’s ordinary trials and tribulations by rescuing them each time they fall, you deprive them of their strength, their resilience, their ability to save themselves.

Source: DrWayneAndersen.com

The next time you’re tempted to save someone from hardship (out of guilt or for any other reason), let this moment be your wake-up call.

You are not a bad person for keeping your distance when someone suffers through heartaches, school difficulties, job challenges, financial woes.


Quite the opposite. When you hold yourself back from rescuing people from life’s normal ups and downs, you allow them the opportunity to build strength. Something that can never be taken away.

Strength is my armor.

Hard won. Forever mine.

Today, I am thankful for every hardship, for every challenge, for every hard-fought battle. Why? For they have chiseled in me, an inner strength that rises up – every single time I meet a new difficulty.


In this video I share how the compassion fatigue I experienced early in my career led to my current work in positive psychology, stress resilience, and thriving under pressure (topic of my TEDx Talk).

Your Turn

Which challenges created your greatest strengths?

Which difficulties paved the way for unexpected opportunities?

43 thoughts on “I’ve never met a strong person with an easy past

Add yours

    1. Thank you! I wrote the post when I was going through a particularly tough family situation. Almost like a “note to self” that I could (and would) make it through. And (hopefully) would be much stronger for it. (And I did. And I am.)💖💫

      1. Only during tough situations, do we realize how strong we can be! The lessons learned during these times, last a lifetime. I’m glad you made through and have emerged much stronger 🙂

        1. So true! Challenge (and overcoming) is a universal experience for all of us. Whether it be watching someone we love go through adversity or facing it directly ourselves. As hard as it can be – it is necessary for personal growth. 🌿🌷

    1. Thank you! Gabby Bernstein is one of my favourite authors. This link looks great. And so on point for this post – which has a twofold undercurrent.

      Holding yourself from helping (enabling) a family member can be one of the most difficult things to do in life. But if you can… the benefit to all is exponential. Challenges come and go. Strength is forever. 🌟💫

      1. Oh wow! I’m glad you’re familiar with her. I just stumbled upon her blog a couple of months ago. I love your message about strength. It truly is so valuable. Like teaching a man how to fish rather than feeding him (or I guess letting the man teach himself how to fish in this case haha)

  1. In the end, we’ll be thankful for it. I agree. Though I also think it’s as important for some to have somebody to hold their hand through it. I know people who didn’t get through because they didn’t have a soul to tell them it’s going to be okay.

    1. Yes, of course. I agree.

      Support is wonderful. The challenge is to hold yourself back from rescuing someone from a potential growth opportunity.

      Love them. Encourage them. Just don’t do it for them.

      “Wings are built on the way down.”

  2. Ahhh yes! It’s like you took a page out of my life. Needed to read this today…in both having strength in myself, and letting others figure it out on their own. Thank you!

  3. Great title and quotes. However as someone who is fighting an uphill battle of a terrible illness, keeping your distance and rescuing people are two separate things. I don’t need to be ‘rescued’ or have my problem ‘fixed’ I do those need those around me to lend me a shoulder or an ear when needed, offer kindness and compassion or a simple, man this sucks, remember you are stronger than you think you are. Keeping your distance when someone is suffering, hurts that person. Because as someone who knows and speaks often with others who have chronic illnesses, one of the major issues is isolation which leads to a myriad of psychological issues. Don’t keep your distance, instead help the person to remember how strong they are and how great they are doing

  4. My goodness Andrea, this is all very inspiring..I’ll come back and read more because it is incredibly helpful and uplifting. Thanks for all that you do! Julie

    1. Thank you for the feedback Julie!

      If anyone can relate to this post – it’s a nurse like you!

      As clinicians, we strive to find a balance between caregiving and caring for ourselves. Give too much, and we are at risk for compassion fatigue & vicarious trauma. Give too little, and we lose our connection to our patients.

      Ultimately, the struggle we’re in today is creating the strength we’ll need for tomorrow. Our patients, our students, our family members, our spouses, and ourselves – included.

  5. Oh my you really touched me with this post as it relates to me.

    I’m strong like I have ever known in my life…but boy my past is horrible. My daughter murdered in the middle of the worse divorce ever!!!

    I got past it, and now am living in a foreign country speaking a second language.. I’m now able to say “hey bring it on because I’ve lived in hell” …

    Thank you! Love your blog!

    1. I am in awe of your strength & courage in the face of so much tragedy. Thank you for sharing your story. You inspire us all to keep moving forward … no matter what life brings!

    2. I am left wordless after reading your comment. No one should go through what you did and I commend you for moving forward positively, making you a better human being because most would have been left broken, cynical, angry and all things negative after this. Kudos to you. You truly are an inspiration. God bless you. Read up about my friend who lost her 18 year old son to brain cancer at http://rcdfoundation.org/ She made it her life mission to find cure for the disease, finding a positive path through her huge loss.

  6. So true Dr. Dinardo. I love the way your formatted this post. Great point and easy to read. Thank you for sharing. Being bullied was the challenge that created my greatest strength. Although it was devestating at the time, I was determined to grow from it and use my story to help others. ❤

    1. You have the best attitude! Uplifting and full of strength! Thank you for sharing Tami. Your outlook and your writing exemplifies: “When you change the way you look at things – the things you look at change.”✨

  7. Thank you so much Andrea for writing this excellent, inspiring and empowering article. I agree so much with it. By being constantly rescued and having an easy, pain-free life, one is deprived of spiritual growth and maturity and unfortunately will never get the chance to properly get to know themselves and develop real self awareness. One remains stagnent and in a kind of stasis and when the moment comes when the shit really does hit the fan in life’s great journey, unbelievable pain is experienced initially yet it is from this pain that the real learning can begin.

    1. Amen Nicholas! It’s only when we look backwards do we realize how our tough times propelled us forward. (When we’re in it, it’s too dark to see our transformation unfolding.) Thank God for tough times. For this is when I learned to fly 🌠

  8. Great post, which I now also understand practically / personally:-). I had (or made) a too easy life as I see now. Therefore I try to welcome the recent hardship and take the challenges as an opportunity to grow. Thanks, all the best

  9. Great post Andrea.

    ‘Stress leave’ sounded a sensible idea. I had the guts a few years before retirement to take sick leave (minimum 3 days not requiring sick note) & talked through a stressful work situation with my doctor. Thankfully she was insightful & understanding.

    I remember returning to work & reporting back to ‘acting up’ manager. When asked the reason I proudly proclaimed STRESS. When asked to elaborate I didn’t go there as I felt the question wasn’t genuine & I didn’t think the person concerned would really understand.

    I was so proud at giving myself some space, a thing I should have done years earlier.
    I feel in a strange kind of way Covid 19 has again given me that welcome space.
    Thank you Andrea for that insight & keep well ❤️🙏

    1. Thank you for sharing Margaret.

      Such an incredible example of compassion fatigue otherwise described as “stress leave” during a time when nobody quite understood – or was properly trained. And you are 100% accurate when you say that Covid 19 has given you some welcome space. The key is to lean into the pause and relish all of the hard fought life lessons that allow you to replenish your spirit during this unexpected time.

      Together We Rise 🌎💙

  10. Thank you Andrea for, as ever your uplifting words on a day when my resolve was beginning to dip but hey ho, I WILL go for a walk later in the lovely sunshine. The non urgent chores can be deferred.
    Together we rise (quite meaningful words I suppose during this week in the liturgical calendar). Thanks again for more insight.


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