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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

This, Too, Shall Pass


For many reasons, my late stepmother, “DT,” remains as the most influential figure in my life. She’s perhaps one of the earliest people I can recall who expressed inextinguishable faith in my ability to succeed, even when I continually lost confidence in my capacity to prevail.


A woman with a complex history of comedy and tragedy in her own life, DT imparted knowledge, shared wisdom, and fostered understanding for how I could achieve what Stoic philosophers referred to as eudemonia – essentially a life well-lived.


Pragmatically, DT didn’t teach me to seek joy or pleasure, nor did she shun the occurrence of these oft-coveted experiences. A deeply religious woman, DT encouraged me to seek contentment in this life, because she believed that everlasting joy could only exist in an afterlife.


Although I can’t recall exactly when she conveyed the adage with me, at some point during a particularly difficult experience I endured, DT told me, “Honey, this, too, shall pass.” Regarding this phrase, one source states:


“This too shall pass” is an adage about impermanence of Persian origin. It reflects the temporary nature, or ephemerality, of the human condition — that neither the negative nor the positive moments in life ever indefinitely last. The general sentiment of the adage is found in wisdom literature throughout history and across cultures, but the specific phrase seems to have originated in the writings of the medieval Persian Sufi poets.


Concerning my decision to punctuate the adage as I do, I concur with one source that states, “With the commas, you add the pause and emphasis intended by the original version: “This, too, shall pass.” Of course, I realize this is a matter of choice with which some people will disagree.


Offering a modern interpretation of the phrase, one source states:


It means that every single thing and every single phase in our lives and in this world is transient. Nothing lasts forever. Change is inevitable. The cycle goes on. Good times come to an end. So do the bad ones. Today, where there is sorrow, there may be joy tomorrow and where there is jubilation, there may be mournful silence.


Man can bear anything if he sets his mind to it, even the harshest of times. Just the hope of a better tomorrow is what keeps us going. It says, “keep your head steady, this hardship which you are going through, shall too, come to an end, one day or the other”.


A devoutly Christian woman, I remember DT telling me that while the adage wasn’t contained in the Bible, it was said to have originated from King Solomon who is addressed within biblical stories. Expressing similar sentiment, one source claims:


There is an ancient Jewish story involving the king, where King Solomon wanted to humble his wisest of servants by asking him to find a magic ring that would make a sad person happy and a happy person sad. When the servant couldn’t find such a thing, King Solomon had a ring made bearing this phrase in Hebrew, “Gam ze ya’avor,” which means, “this too shall pass.”


Irrespective of its origin, I’ve found significant value in this Stoic-esque phrase. For instance, when in my youth and repeatedly enduring trauma, DT reminded me that suffering was temporary.


When experiencing almost an entire years’ worth of problems in the Marine Corps, DT was the only person allowed to phone into one of my two detention periods in a military brig. She reminded me, “This, too, shall pass.”


It the darkest period of my adult life, throughout the entire course of actions that eventually led to my divorce, DT’s frequent talks and continued reinforcement of the adage helped me immensely. To this day, I credit her for having helped pulled me through that time.


As I attended undergrad and while twice having gone through the experience of grad school, DT was the person who reminded me that with the difficulty of exams and essays, as well as relating to the benefit of success with degree conferral, all things would inevitably pass.


Especially helpful, during moments when I was full of myself for having accomplished one substantial task or another, I could hear in my mind the words of DT. Of the lessons I most cherish from her was that relating to impermanence—the state or fact of lasting for only a limited period of time.


All things shall eventually pass – the highs, mids, and lows in life. This inescapable truth is as relevant as the lesson my dad taught me before I ever entered elementary school – one day I and everyone I would ever know would eventually die.


Now, as I practice Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), I use psychoeducation to teach others about the concept of ephemerality—the concept regarding all manner of things being transitory or existing only briefly. Relatively speaking, we exist for a brief period and then we, too, shall pass.


There’s no need to self-disturb with irrational beliefs about this undeniable fact. Rather, there’s comfort in unconditionally accepting the bittersweet reality of the adage, “This, too, shall pass.” If you’d like to know more about how not to upset yourself, much as my late stepmom taught me, I’m here to help.


If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life—helping you to sharpen your critical thinking skills, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.


As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.


At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!



Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW




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