Inspirational and motivational quotes are incredibly common. It’s hard to scroll through my social media feeds without seeing at least one pretty image overlayed with a positive message. People love them. If you post an inspirational saying, you’ll probably get a lot of likes and reposts.
But there’s a significant problem with the majority of these, and I want to take some time to dig out the core philosophy behind a lot of inspirational quotes.
It’s a philosophy that needs to be broken down and revealed for what it is, because the reality is that a lot of these sayings are based on lies.
And I don’t care how “inspirational” it is, a lie is still a lie.
And at some point, if you invest your hopes and dreams into lies, if you push forward and build your future on a twisted foundation, your world will shatter around you, and you’ll find yourself broken, wondering where you went wrong.
And the number of likes and shares I see on these types of posts tells me that a lot of people have invested themselves into a false reality.
I firmly believe that it is better to acknowledge the darkness around you, than to parade around in it holding a picture of a lit candle.
And with all of that being said, if you aren’t afraid to tread forward with me, let’s look into this together.
“Don’t worry, everything is going to be alright.”
“Everything is going to be fine.”
“Things will get better, I know it.”
“Don’t worry – there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.”
These are well-meaning statements. They are meant to comfort and to encourage in dark times. To give hope and motivation when we feel hopeless and incapable of meaningful action.
These – and the majority of the inspirational sayings I see – are rooted in the belief that, at some point, an individual’s state in life will improve.
These statements imply (and rely on) a belief in a certain universal “truth”: that things do, eventually, get better. You just have to make it until you get there.
So the question is: Is this “truth” reliable?
In order for this belief to be defensible, for it and its many-faceted expressions to be confidently shared with the masses with integrity, this truth must be universal. “Things eventually get better” must be rooted in an unbreakable law of the universe. Otherwise, we are stating something as fact that is only a possibility – a possibility with odds of success and failure that we do not know.
Is “things are going to get better” a law of the universe?
Well, to give the answer before the reasons, no. It’s not.
There is no universal law in place that says, “When things get bad, there must be a turnaround.” We can hope that a turnaround happens, but there is nothing in place to guarantee that for everyone – or even for the majority of people.
Does it seem like it? Does it seem like things always end up getting better? Maybe for you, they do. Maybe even for everyone around you.
But that doesn’t make it universally true.
You can’t go tell that to people who live in war-torn, impoverished countries where starvation, disease, and suffering are the beginning, middle, and end of their lives.
You can’t go tell that to children who live in abusive homes, whose parents won’t stop hurting them, no matter how much they want it to stop.
You can’t tell that to drug addicts, who can’t help but give themselves over to their addictions day after day, incurring cost after cost until nothing is left.
You can’t tell that to victims of sex trafficking, who are forced to “service” men over and over with no hope of deliverance on the horizon, all while wearing a painted smile.
No matter how positive your statement is, it can’t change reality.
That things “inevitably get better” is an idea that is the product of a wealthy culture where economic affluence provides easier and more common transitions out of bad situations.
Simply put, this is an idea that is indefensible on a universal scale, but it is easy to sell because of economic prosperity.
The same is true of other motivational quotes.
“Work hard and pursue your dreams. If you want it bad enough and work at it hard enough, you’ll eventually get there.”
It’s a well-meaning statement, but it is born out of a very similar “truth”: That if you put in the effort and the passion, you will reap the reward you imagine.
But nothing guarantees that.
Those statements don’t take into account economic changes or over-saturated markets. They don’t take into account demand for a person’s specific skillset or product. They don’t even take basic talent into consideration, let alone an individual’s circumstantial ability to pursue their desires. Some people are stuck where they are – and it isn’t because they aren’t trying hard enough to get out.
You see, these statements don’t know you.
None of them do!
They promise you things that words, and even actions, can’t guarantee.
And that’s reality.
Let’s not get that confused with cynicism. I’m not saying everything is hopeless.
But if we’re going to find real hope, we’re going to have to get real about what life actually is.
If we’re going to share real hope, it needs to be rooted in defensible truths of reality.
So don’t waste the precious space for hopeful things in people’s minds.
Give them something truly worth hoping in, or give them nothing.
Thoughts? Feelings? Tell me about them in the comments below! And if you’d like to keep up with my content, subscribe to my rarely used email list!