Break Them Down, Then Bring Them Up

Have you ever come across the expression,

“You must fall apart to understand what it means when you are whole”

I am sure you’ve heard….

“They happen to break you down and build you up so you can be all that you were intended to be”

I know they follow this model in the military, “break you down to build you up”.  I know athletes are familiar with this idea. I also know that College fraternities and sororities abuse the concept.

I was once in College and I was once in a sorority.

I would often hear of organizations that fully believed in the idea. In order to welcome a new member into their social group, they first had to “break them down”, this potential member had to prove him/herself to the organization. Is he/she strong enough? Can he/she handle the pressure? Will he/she fulfill his/her duties? Will he/she meet their standards?

The idea was to mentally or physically break someone down.

I came across a situation today… it inspired me to write, and it inspired me to question this entire concept.

Why must someone fall apart in order to come up? Why must we be pushed beyond our limits in order to know our “strengths”? Can’t we already distinguish our strengths from our weaknesses?

What does it all entail… Must you cry? Must you question your abilities?

How do we know for a fact that this will make us stronger, that this will make us worthy?

Do those serving in the military really believe in this model? What would have happened if they hadn’t been broken down? What would have happened to the pledges if they hadn’t been pushed beyond their limits? Would they still be worthy? Would they still be able to meet the organization’s standards?

I am not sure what the answer to all this is, maybe you do?… But wouldn’t it be interesting if we didn’t live by this motto? If instead, we motivated and inspired, hoping that it’s all enough. What about if instead of breaking someone down, we kept him or her strong? Or is breaking down all a part of living and growing?

As you can imagine… my questions are endless.

I would like to end this entry with ONE proposal…. One simple proposal.

Let’s build each other up.

Just imagine what that could do….


As I had mentioned in this post, I don’t know what the “right” answer is. I don’t believe there is a RIGHT answer. Still, I enjoy hearing the opinions of others and learning about their own experiences. I wanted to share my good friend’s response. 

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6 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Wonderful sentiments Joanna. Certainly women need to empower each other where the gender paradigm of our changing patriarchal society tends to put unrealistic constraints on women, but I believe the philosophical goals of the military breaking down an an individual is slightly different, and perhaps necessary. Persons–men and women– who come into the military come from all different backgrounds, socioeconomic, ethnic, racial, religious, and other cultural differences, so that in order for them to operate as an effective, and efficient fighting or emergency response team, they must take away their tendency to think of themselves as say a Christian, Muslim, or agnostic individua, or a Mexican American, or black man, yellow, brown or white, but think like a soldier, sailor, or marine, part of that basic fighting unit that serves the greater need to protect our constitutional way of life that preserves the rest of our country’s right to be individuals, and enjoy the freedoms we have.

    1. You have a very good point. Maybe in the military it is all very different. I like what you mentioned about “taking away their tendency to think of themselves as a christian, muslim….” in order to all work together and represent one country. But still, is that necessary? Must we do that to work as a team? This country (us) represents diversity.

  2. I love your positive attitude. We need more of this in this world. We need good news. People to tell us that we’re doing great. More smiles. More laughs. More dancing.
    And when we’re falling there’s always someone to catch us.
    Nice post, Joanna

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