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Can you build character without suffering?
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shaqued_almond




 
 
 
 

Post Wed, Sep 21 2022, 8:42 pm
allthingsblue wrote:
Sleep loss when kids are little causes me to be unable to function. It’s a physiological reaction for me. I end up being very short tempered.

Other kinds of “suffering” have built character for me - but does not have to be traditional suffering. Can be the thinking honestly which can be painful, or going out of my comfort zone.


I think most people get cranky when tired but we still do our job. We don't send the kids to foster care but bear it because it's temporary
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seltzermom




 
 
 
 

Post Wed, Sep 21 2022, 9:42 pm
shaqued_almond wrote:
It seems to me that people just don't have good middot in their nature. I'm not saying that I know the answer to the right parenting question. What I do remember is that my parents were emotionally neglectful and potched but I think I was generally more behaved in comparison to my class mates some 15 years ago. So I don't like that. I don't like having to be as strict with my kids as I am but they also just have moments of teasing each other horribly. They're not really grateful for the privileges that they get over the way I grew up. At least they don't show it. From the kids I see, it's usually the minority who is kind and they're not affluent so there's some struggle at least that I know of. Long story short, it's also a bit the character of a person.


That’s a critical part or unaccepting part of yourself talking here.

That part needs to be accepted. And loved. And then it will love and see the good in your kids more easily.

Your kids are normal. Nobody is nice all the time. We all have bad parts. Healing is learning that’s ok. To see ourselves more objectively. And love all parts of ourselves.

Behavior is all very nice. But those of us who suffered trauma have strong critical voices. Sometimes aimed at ourselves. Sometimes aimed at others.

This critical part is hurt. It feels unworthy. It thought it needs to be sooooo good in order to get love.

Reality is we’re a mix of good and bad. And still so worthy of love and attachment.
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imasinger




 
 
 
 

Post Wed, Sep 21 2022, 9:55 pm
I think it's like the 3 books that are open on RH (lehavdil).

For some people (tzadikim), suffering makes them stronger, and they become finer people by working on themselves, and growing through their pain.

For some people, suffering makes them embittered and sad, and they just get increasingly miserable, and cause misery to others, creating a cycle of abuse.

But for most in the middle (beinonim), it's a bit of both. Getting help from someone competent can help a great deal.

Using this time of year for reflection, to think about how each of us can grow, is helpful.
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L25




 
 
 
 

Post Wed, Sep 21 2022, 9:58 pm
I was actually thinking about this recently. A young adult I know mentioned that she dropped out of school in 12th grade and had to catch up so she couldn't graduate with her classmates. She said she was going through a difficult time and was homeless. She said it has made her who she is today, you know the whole if it doesn't kill you it makes you stronger thing, she quoted that phrase. I didn't say anything at the time but afterwards wondered about, what about all the people walking around with ptsd.... it didn't actually "kill" them but they are broken now...
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seltzermom




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Sep 22 2022, 12:58 am
Suffering is like nuclear capability. It’s powerful. It can build worlds and destroy everything in its path.

It could cause great walls to go up. That cover hearts. And don’t let love in or out.

It could cause personalities to split dramatically. And now everything is experienced as all or nothing. In or out.

It could create false persona’s in which people hide so far they don’t know where they are. They are disconnected. Only identifying with the mask they hold up.

It can shock the nervous system. It can thin it out. And make the system feel constantly overwhelmed or dysregulated.

It can make somebody believe they are very small. Like an ant. Or very large like a tiger - that consumes everyone else.

The human system is vulnerable. And calamity and catastrophe threaten to overwhelm it. The person fears destruction. And creates the above defenses to survive.

Too much suffering puts a person in a state of survival. They are just averting danger. They don’t have trust or security. Calmness feels dangerous.

But someone who’s suffered understands pain. And that could lead to deeper empathy and kindness.

But only if it’s paired with its flip side. Which is love.

If you have enough love to hold you through suffering. Even the love in your soul. Can sustain you. Or the love of God.

Then you can care. Then you can connect. Then you can find compassion. And then trust. Which is the remedy to all suffering.
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shaqued_almond




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Sep 22 2022, 1:10 am
seltzermom wrote:
Calmness feels dangerous.



You gave words to something that's been on my mind. Whenever my kids tell me they love me it's hard for me to believe it. There's a voice in my head telling me that one day they'll wake up and stop feeling that way. Because of course I must be making mistakes and one day they'll realize that. My parents didn't mean to do wrong and it still happened. I'm not repeating my parents' mistakes but at the same time I'm wondering am I overcorrecting and being too nice?

I'd like to think that I'm kind but I also have moments of judging other people. Usually it's when I don't get why x is upsetting for a person. I've been through worse than that and it didn't break me, you know? So sometimes it does make me kind. I do like to help when I can. And genuinely helping people brings me happiness.
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Inner Beauty




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Sep 22 2022, 1:14 am
I understand that challenges build character but why is pain necessary? Does pain build character? Personally, I think a person can grow without pain, and I think it is not necessary for someone to have pain in order to grow. I understand how challenges can help a person grow, but I don’t understand why pain is necessary for one to grow.

Last edited by Inner Beauty on Thu, Sep 22 2022, 2:02 am; edited 1 time in total
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shaqued_almond




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Sep 22 2022, 1:21 am
Inner Beauty wrote:
I understand that challenges build character but why is pain necessary? Does pain build character? Personally, I think a person can grow without pain, and I think it is not necessary for someone to have pain in order to grow. I don’t understand why pain is necessary in order for one to grow.


I think first we need to define what pain is. Some people have a higher tolerance, which I think suffering builds. Pain in medicine is a symptom that there's a problem. So if you solve the problem the pain should go away right?
I just don't see yet if we can be without pain. Is such an existence possible? Is it desirable? I could be a bum with little expectation and pain, physically happy, but is that valuable to me?
I'm not advocating for people to expose themselves to hardship. But maybe, don't give up just because there's some hardship?
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WitchKitty




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Sep 22 2022, 4:06 am
You reminded me of this quote from Brandon Sanderson (Oathbringer)

Quote:
“Ten spears go to battle,” he whispered, “and nine shatter. Did that war forge the one that remained? No, Amaram. All the war did was identify the spear that would not break.”
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ora_43




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Sep 22 2022, 6:34 am
There's suffering and there's suffering.

Re: trauma-trauma (war, abuse, etc), I agree with seltzermom and imasinger. Some people are inspired to do amazing things, some people are inspired to do horrible things, and most people just try to survive it.

But "a little suffering" - 100% I think it's a necessary part of building character. First off, because anything worth doing takes effort. Becoming an expert in something, having a good marriage, raising kids well, being a true eved Hashem...

Basically by definition anything that's easy to do, almost everyone already does. It's the hard stuff that sets people apart as having good character (or not).

And second, because there's a lot of suffering in the world, and part of having good character is having sympathy for that suffering and doing what you can to fix it. The former means suffering yourself, the second means sacrifice.
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seltzermom




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Sep 22 2022, 8:09 am
I think love and devotion build character too. If you had a parent that gave you secure attachment I think that lesson is priceless. And it definitely teaches you compassion and kindness.

Or if you have a good friend or a spouse that believes in you and shows you love consistently. That’s character building too.

Or if you show love to someone. Not in a perfect way. But in a devoted way. That builds character.

But trauma. Extreme overwhelm of the system. When it goes into healing. And emotional safety returns. Allowing the nervous system to calm down - taking a person out of survival and constant suffering. Which opens the door to connection. It creates a certain knowing. That others don’t have. Which gives a person wisdom and deeper connection and compassion.

It’s a healing journey. I think to some degree most humans are in that journey. And it definitely deepens a person.

Suffering comes from the middah of g’vurah. Withholding. Fifty percent of the world is built on some form of it.

The other fifty percent is chessed. Which is pure love and giving. And fifty percent of the world has that.

Plain chessed - flowing of giving is beautiful. But it needs a vessel to hold it. G’vurah is the middah that provides parameters and therefore creates vessels.

Like a delicious soup is worthless without a pot to hold it.

So I guess both middos are instrumental to our growth as people. Both deepen and highlight our humanity. Which is our compassion. And love. And choices we make even when it’s so hard.
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shaqued_almond




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Sep 22 2022, 8:52 am
seltzermom wrote:
I think love and devotion build character too. If you had a parent that gave you secure attachment I think that lesson is priceless. And it definitely teaches you compassion and kindness.

Or if you have a good friend or a spouse that believes in you and shows you love consistently. That’s character building too.

Or if you show love to someone. Not in a perfect way. But in a devoted way. That builds character.

But trauma. Extreme overwhelm of the system. When it goes into healing. And emotional safety returns. Allowing the nervous system to calm down - taking a person out of survival and constant suffering. Which opens the door to connection. It creates a certain knowing. That others don’t have. Which gives a person wisdom and deeper connection and compassion.

It’s a healing journey. I think to some degree most humans are in that journey. And it definitely deepens a person.

Suffering comes from the middah of g’vurah. Withholding. Fifty percent of the world is built on some form of it.

The other fifty percent is chessed. Which is pure love and giving. And fifty percent of the world has that.

Plain chessed - flowing of giving is beautiful. But it needs a vessel to hold it. G’vurah is the middah that provides parameters and therefore creates vessels.

Like a delicious soup is worthless without a pot to hold it.

So I guess both middos are instrumental to our growth as people. Both deepen and highlight our humanity. Which is our compassion. And love. And choices we make even when it’s so hard.


I think trauma as in PTSD does cripple the mind but I think there's light trauma that can prevent you from getting hurt in the future. It's had to quantify.
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Thisisnotmyreal




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Sep 22 2022, 8:55 am
We are justifying people's pain and that's the problem. I praise Hashem daily odecha Hashem ki onafta bi but as parents we try to create a better future for our children.

It's been a certain way until now, but it's not the only way. We can raise children to be kind, to have proper boundaries, to be proud and to have humility all without throwing horrible things at them. And while broken people repaired are beautiful, Kintsugi is getting old.
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shaqued_almond




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Sep 22 2022, 9:00 am
Thisisnotmyreal wrote:
We are justifying people's pain and that's the problem. I praise Hashem daily odecha Hashem ki onafta bi but as parents we try to create a better future for our children.

It's been a certain way until now, but it's not the only way. We can raise children to be kind, to have proper boundaries, to be proud and to have humility all without throwing horrible things at them. And while broken people repaired are beautiful, Kintsugi is getting old.


Well, that's part of the question. Is the new generation actually more kind?
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OBnursemom




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Sep 22 2022, 9:06 am
I think that often when someone has gone through a certain experience, they can relate better to people who go through the same things.

Think a person who struggled with infertility who founded a fertility organization.
The person who suffered from children with genetic diseases who founded Dor Yeshorim.
A person who lost loved ones who is capable of working with hospice patients.
Even a person who has children who can work with women in labor, because they know that level of pain and suffering.
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Thisisnotmyreal




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Sep 22 2022, 9:13 am
Mountain climbing also builds character.
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shaqued_almond




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Sep 22 2022, 10:32 am
Thisisnotmyreal wrote:
Mountain climbing also builds character.


Even there exist some suffering. Muscle pain, isolation, strenuous climbs.
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Ema of 5




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Sep 22 2022, 10:40 am
shaqued_almond wrote:
My experiences are certainly not applicable to everyone but the older I get the more I start to believe that humans need a little suffering to build character. I believe sometimes suffering is unavoidable but can result in great things. Example: sleep loss when kids are little. But it's possible I'm wrong, so the question is, do you know someone with great middot (work ethic, honesty, integrity, independence, kindness) that didn't go through some sadness or strictness in their life? Can strictness/ firmness exist without causing negative feelings?

Everyone has experiences, and that is what shapes them. Experiences are not necessarily all hard or all whatever, but everything we go though helps shape us and our reactions to other things. My experiences and reactions to them may be different than your experiences and reactions. We might have the same experiences, but react differently. Our own personal experiences and how we react to them are what develop our character.
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8x




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Sep 22 2022, 10:49 am
The Torah gives some examples about suffering bringing about results that would not have been without it. Like galus ultimately brings geulah.

In שמות it says כאשר יענו אותם כן ירבה וכן יפרוץ. As they suffered, so they multiplied. This is a quote brought down to prove that suffering brings the blessing of growth.

There is also the concept of squeezing the olive for oil for the lighting of the menorah, it says כתית למאור- crushed for light. This too is brought down to show that when we are "crushed" in galus, the ultimate result is light.
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PinkFridge




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Sep 22 2022, 10:58 am
shaqued_almond wrote:
My experiences are certainly not applicable to everyone but the older I get the more I start to believe that humans need a little suffering to build character. I believe sometimes suffering is unavoidable but can result in great things. Example: sleep loss when kids are little. But it's possible I'm wrong, so the question is, do you know someone with great middot (work ethic, honesty, integrity, independence, kindness) that didn't go through some sadness or strictness in their life? Can strictness/ firmness exist without causing negative feelings?


Yes, but just a little. If parents give their kids opportunities to grow, that can be enough.
There are people who've had it pretty easy in life. And I fargin them.

Another way is, aging. Someone who has a healthy personality, once she's lived long enough, will see so much in her immediate orbit that it will give her depth.
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