Songs for Sound Minds are our picks of the best music that uplifts, inspires and boosts mental health. Songs written as an anthem to overcoming the storms of life. The songs that give hope in those times when we are struggling.
This song focuses on moving on from a difficult relationship can be a liberating and life changing experience. That is the theme of this week’s featured track – ‘Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)’ by Kelly Clarkson.
Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) by Kelly Clarkson
From American Idol to rocky relationships
Clarkson shot to fame as the inaugural winner of the American Idol reality television show in 2002. A roller-coaster career followed during which the Texan singer has had more than her fair share of difficult relationships.
An acrimonious split from her original American Idol dictated record label – RCA – brought an end to what Clarkson described as “an arranged marriage”.
This particular relationship lasted 14 years. During that time her music, appearance and even weight were policed by her management.
In her personal life, Clarkson’s fame made maintaining relationships difficult until her marriage in 2013.
A perfect representation of my life
Clarkson considered the lyric ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ as “a perfect representation of my life”.
The inspiring theme is that just because the relationship is over that ‘doesn’t mean I’m over ’cause you’re gone’. She has moved on and things are better than they were before.
The message of the song is that it is possible to be stronger in spite of experiencing pain and tragedy. We can all think of examples of people who have overcome tragic circumstances.
Hope out of pain and tragedy
Think of Simon Weston, who survived 46% burns to his body during the Falklands War. Yet he has gone on to become a high-profile political activist and champion of a number of charities.
In 2014, he was voted Britain’s most heroic figure.
Or take Katie Piper the victim of a sulphuric acid attack which resulted in 40 surgical operations and left her blind in one eye.
She has set up her own charitable foundation, regularly appears on radio and television and has authored several books including one with the title, ‘Things Get Better: If You Believe Then You Will Survive.’
The science behind ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’
Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) paraphrases the Friedrich Nietzsche quotation: “That which does not kill us makes us stronger”. Nietzsche’s prophetic philosophy is supported in the world of science.
Victor Frankl was a German psychiatrist who survived Auschwitz during the Second World War. He noticed that even in conditions as dehumanizing as the concentration camp there were people who behaved with decency and humanity.
Personal growth from tragedy
Scientific studies show that for some people who survive trauma there are reported positive changes and enhanced personal development which scientists call Post Traumatic Growth.
The British Heart Foundation (BHF) promotes stories of survivors of heart attacks who give up their obsession with the rat race and discover new ways of living, improved relationships and a greater commitment to their family.
There can be a silver lining
Stephen Joseph, Professor of Psychology at the University of Nottingham suggests that it is helpful to reflect on the positive aspects of challenging events.
This could be better friendships, a new perspective on life, previously hidden strength of character or a greater understanding of life.
The implication is that there are benefits in trying to make sense of adverse life circumstances.
Something terrible happened. You survived and lived to tell the tale of stronger relationships, a stronger ability to cope or a stronger understanding of life’s ups and downs.
It didn’t kill you, but it did make you stronger.