“This, too, shall pass.”
From my earliest memories, my Mom has uttered this phrase whenever she was going through tough times and now I’ve developed the habit.
Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations attributes this phrase to Abraham Lincoln. However, he didn’t claim the saying as his own in an 1859 speech:
“It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations,” Lincoln told the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society. “They presented him the words `And this, too, shall pass away.’ How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride. How consoling in the depths of affliction!”
Evidently, Lincoln used this expression as a mantra to help him through the stress of troubled times with his family and during his administration.
Why not use this soothing slogan whenever we face stressful or painful challenges in our own lives? Whether we’re dealing with the end of a relationship, losing a job, or watching a loved one suffer from illness, this phrase is filled with uplifting insight and wisdom that can help us retain our joy and give us hope that things will improve.
When we’re in the midst of a loss or setback, we may feel like the situation and the emotions that come with it will last forever, yet it inevitably passes. Not to say that a tragedy or painful events completely disappear. Years after the death of a loved one, for example, we can still feel the painful stabs of sorrow. Time may heal all wounds, but while the open, gaping wounds close up, the scar remains. However, no matter what trials we suffer, most of us don’t grieve around the clock for the rest of our lives. Life goes on and takes us with it. Our ability and infinite capacity to endure and bounce back is far greater than we think.
Last year, I wrote an article about Kristine Robertson, a successful real estate investor from Australia, for one of my clients, Property Women. The interview touched my soul. Soon after a painful divorce, Kristine’s only son, whom she loved and adored, committed suicide. At first, it was difficult to continue, but in the end, she knew life must go on. “The most common thing people say to me is, ‘I don’t know how you cope,’ but there is no question of coping,” she said. “When situations arise, as many, many women know who have suffered losses, you have to cope. There is no choice.”
Kristine said that she found hidden resources within herself she didn’t know were there and discovered the courage she needed to move forward. “I must be strong for myself and my boy wouldn’t like to see me fall in a heap either,” she said. Kristine admits that nothing frightens her now. Even after hip replacement surgery, this remarkable woman forages forward, walking her beautiful new puppy, Ula, twice a day and continues to manage all her properties.
“This, too, shall pass.”
The calming phrase helps us keep things in perspective with the knowledge that unpleasant experiences come and then pass away. When life’s ebbs and flows impact us deeply causing pain, sorrow, hardship, disappointment, grief, and frustration, these four simple and comforting words can help us realize that every situation, feeling, and thought in life is only temporary.
If we embrace the fact that life constantly changes and there are no guarantees in life, we can better accept situations, adjust to the inevitable changes, and become more resilient. We won’t be afraid to take risks thinking that if we fail or lost someone we loved, we couldn’t go on living. We could and we would.
After all, we don’t only want to be at our best when things are going our way. If we remind ourselves that ‘this, too, shall pass,’ it will help us show strength, courage, and endurance when things go wrong in our lives.
“A bend in the road is not the end of the road…unless you fail to make the turn,” Helen Keller said.