for the times you are holding onto your last thread

What are Platitudes?

OPINION | by Renee Clark | October 7, 2021 | Updated October 9, 2021

[plat-i-tood, -tyood]

  1. A trite or banal remark or statement, especially one expressed as if it were original or significant. synonym: cliché.

  2. Lack of originality; triteness.

  3. Flatness; dullness; insipidity of thought; triteness.


Platitudes aren't always hurtful, but can be. In particular, they can cause harm to survivors and people with disabilities.

  • Imagine saying "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" to a heart failure survivor who is actively fighting to stay alive.

  • Or saying "all men are created equal" to someone who was born with bilateral clubbed feet, had multiple surgeries, and has difficulty walking because her feet are extremely painful.

  • Imagine saying "good vibes only" to an autistic person, who takes words literally, and has a strong sense that people don't like them.

  • Imagine telling a domestic violence survivor to "forgive and forget" and then question why that domestic violence survivor went back to their abuser.

  • Imagine saying "boys will be boys" to someone who was raped.

  • Imagine telling someone who can't afford to put food on the table that "money can't buy happiness."

The following lists include common platitudes. Read through them. Imagine scenarios where the words might cause harm or encourage self-harm. Before you use a platitude, check yourself - do you really know this person's background? Do you know everything she or he has been through? If you haven't known them since birth, chances are, you don't. Are you confident that the trite, insincere expression that you may be thinking about using, in a situation that makes you uncomfortable, won't cause further harm? If talking about the situation makes you uncomfortable, try to imagine how it makes the person, who either lived, or is living the experience, feel.

Don't know what to say? "I'm sorry this happened to you," if spoken with sincerity, along with a listening ear, is an empathetic response that shouldn't harm.


Absence makes the heart grow fonder

All men are created equal

All's fair in love and war

At least it wasn't...

Be strong

Better to have loved and lost

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Beauty is only skin deep

Boys will be boys

Cat got your tongue?

Children should be seen and not heard

Don't be sad it's over, be glad it happened

Don't get your panties in a twist

Everything always works out in the end

Everything happens for a reason

Everything is awesome

Everything will be ok

Fake a smile

Fake it until you make it

Fail harder

Follow your bliss

Follow your passion

Forget the past

Go with the flow

Good things come to those who wait

Good vibes only

Great minds think alike

Hard work pays off

Have a positive attitude

If you can't handle the heat, get out of the kitchen

If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all

It could be worse

It is what it is

It's a matter of time

It takes two to tango

It's all good

It's darkest before dawn

It's not rocket science

It was meant to be

Keep the past in the past

Let it go

Life is a gift

Live in the now

Love conquers all

Money can't buy happiness

Nice guys finish last

Other people have it worse

Only the good die young

Positive vibes only

Practice makes perfect

Put on a brave face

Sending good vibes

S/he's a diamond in the rough

So it goes

Something better will come along

Such is life

That's for me to know and you to find out

There's always a silver lining

There's more fish in the sea

The sun will come out tomorrow

Think outside the box

Think positive

This too shall pass

Time heals/will heal everything (all wounds)

We're all in this together

We're all the same

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger

What goes around comes around

What's meant to be will be

What the mind can conceive, it can achieve

What's done is done

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade

What goes around comes around

When one door closes another one opens

Winners never quit (and quitters never win)

You are what you eat

You should just be grateful for...

You should just be thankful for...

You can be anything you want to be

Your [lost loved one] wouldn't want you to be sad


Cleanliness is next to Godliness

Forgive and forget

God has a plan for you

God never gives us more than we can handle

God only takes those He wants

God won't give you more than you can bear

Have faith

Just give it to the Lord

Let go and let God

Love conquers all

Love the sinner, hate the sin

Patience is a virtue

Pray harder

Surrender more of your life to Christ

The center of God's will is the safest place to be

Thoughts and prayer

Trust God

When God closes a door He opens a window