Confronting Pain and Overcoming it Makes You Stronger

· September 5, 2018

Pain is an emotion that will always be a part of our lives. From the moment we’re born, we start to deal with the inconsistencies of life and the frustrations that can come out of unfulfilled dreams. That’s why it’s so important to know how to confront pain and move forward. You can never avoid hardship entirely, but you can learn how to deal with it.

To start, you absolutely have to be able to tell the difference between pain, sadness, and melancholy. This is an essential skill because they often make you feel the same way, even though they’re not the same at all.

Sadness is a range of states where mental pain starts with how meaningful a certain situation is to someone.”

-[Translation] Hugo Bleichmar-

Does confronting pain always mean sadness or melancholy?

Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, said there was an important difference between these concepts. As similar as they might be, at least in our collective imagination, they aren’t the same. In his masterpiece, Mourning and Melancholia, he tries to establish all the ways they’re different.

Knowing how to confront pain is the key to moving forward.


Sad woman looking out the window, confronting pain.

He said that pain is the reaction to the loss of a loved one or of some abstract idea like a belief, freedom, etc. But because they have the same root cause, a lot of people experience melancholy instead of pain.

Of course, Freud says that pain isn’t necessarily a neurotic feeling when it comes to someone who has lost something they love. It’s a completely normal way of feeling, a completely normal reaction to that kind of situation. On the other hand, if they’re experiencing melancholy, that’s more likely to be an issue of neurosis.

Both of these emotional processes have similar characteristics, except for one key point. Both states involve pain, a lack of interest in the outside world, and no desire to find a new object of love.

But melancholy also involves kind of stirring up the pain, leading to an attack on your own ego. This doesn’t happen with the normal course of pain and mourning, where you just become weaker.

Confronting pain helps you truly get to know yourself

Your emotional world has a direct link to your psyche. What that means is that it can have a direct or indirect impact on your physical, biological well-being. In general, modern society and individuals underestimate how important emotions are. 

Whenever we have a symptom, like insomnia or depression, we want it to magically disappear. To do that, we usually go to a pharmacy looking for a wonder drug. But it’s not likely the symptoms will really go away, not permanently, if you don’t make a deep effort to work on it yourself.

Medicine, and more specifically psychiatry, says that the stimuli-response theory of behavior is the best approach for getting rid of basically any negative symptom. The idea is that with the right medication, anyone can get back into their daily routine. This is because, at least for a little while, the symptom disappears or becomes much less intense.

However, in a lot of cases, using medication is just like slipping your condition under the rug. You look the other way and try to forget it’s there, but it never really goes away.

So when you stop taking the medication, the symptom will come right back. Or even if you keep on taking it, the symptom can start to take other forms and jeopardize your quality of life.

Confronting pain helps you get to know yourself.

Sad woman thinking about the past and overcoming pain.

The consequences of silencing your pain

In the end, the symptom is a warning sign that something’s going wrong in your emotional life. So if you silence it and try to move on, you’re losing the information it’s trying to give you. You’re only making it harder to deal with the problem. That’s why it’s so important to get a good clinical evaluation before you start any kind of treatment.

A psychotherapist can give you the chance to set some new frameworks. This will help you look at the world from a whole new perspective. They’ll help you reach a new point of view that involves a lot less pain and a lot more satisfaction and fulfillment. 

Remember that suffering is a very subjective thing. What this means is that, in the end, you’re the only one who really knows what’s hurting. But by listening to your story, a psychiatrist will be able to understand how exactly your frustrated desires are leading to this negative state.