Growing Through Pain, and Avoiding Suffering

· November 23, 2017

Sometimes life hurts … and sometimes it shakes us so hard that it seems almost impossible to get up again. When we live through a painful event we experience intense emotional processes. Processes we have been forced into by the very inertia of reality, and which we’ll need a lot of strength to get out of. Because if we don’t, then bitterness and pain will consume us. It’s all about growing through pain.

In fact, staying entrenched in our pain is a personal choice. It we stay anchored in our suffering then we’ll miss out on the inner journey that culminates in acceptance, in the quietness of understanding and in personal development.

“Pain is not to make you suffer. Pain is to make you more aware. And when you are conscious, misery disappears. “

-Osho-

Pain is inevitable, suffering optional …

Both pain and suffering are part of life. We should point out that we often use these two terms as synonyms. However, in order to deal with them properly it is important to understand what differentiates them.

tears growing through pain

Pain, in its psychological dimension, is an emotion that can arise in certain situations or problems. It affects us physically, emotionally and mentally and lasts until the person can recover. In this sense, pain implies acceptance and being in touch with what we feel. It should also be noted that the time the pain is prolonged for is proportional to the magnitude of the event that produced it for us.

“Once the pain passes, we usually forget it. The advances of science, thanks to anesthesia and analgesics, have made us not as used to pain as our ancestors were. This is a fact that explains why we are increasingly afraid of it”.

On the other hand, suffering goes a step further. Suffering arises when we have an inability to accept reality and continue with our life regardless. This state of mind will bring us again and again to thoughts and emotions that will make us imbalanced and could make us ill. In this case suffering would be an unnecessary consequence of pain.


“In the middle of the winter, I finally learned that there was an invincible summer in me”

-Albert Camus-

It should be noted that suffering takes on much more intensity and lasts longer than emotional pain, and may last indefinitely. For example, pain is inevitable with the loss of a loved one. If this wound fails to heal and close, then that’s when we’ll experience suffering. The latter prevents the possibility of acceptance and growth.

Growing through pain

Post-traumatic growth occurs when the person accepts what has happened and reconstructs their beliefs. It is a similar process to when a person has to rebuild their house after an earthquake. After a painful event we embrace the opportunity to think about how we want to rebuild our life.

What is more, these new beliefs that we are accepting also promote the development of resilience. In the same way, during this process of rebuilding, the person usually discovers strengths and characteristics they didn’t know they had.

“Find a place within you where there is joy, and that joy will erase the pain”

-Joseph Campbell-

When it comes down to it, it is our attitude that has the power to make us miserable. According to the psychotherapist Joan Garriga, any loss can become an opportunity to grow as people, to find relief and to free ourselves from attachments and labels.

Likewise, the great risk in every painful process is that we might not overcome it and we may just to settle into attitudes that feed suffering: complaining, feeling victimized, revenge, stiffness, pride. In this sense, it should be noted that pain is an inherent process in life and it is important to grow and understand what we are experiencing in a more enriching way.

“I’ve been a lucky man in life, nothing was easy for me”

Sigmund Freud

Learning along the way

In life we learn about what is painful and what can cause us suffering. When we come into contact with the most heartrending pain, we become aware of our frailty. At the same time we also put ourselves in a position which can enable us to know our value.

growing through pain

And it is on this road where one learns that everything changes and that, after the clouds disappear, the sun will always shine again with the beauty and strength of a new dawn. And this when we discover the strength that lives within us. The strength which helps us to overcome the difficult roads and the inertia that pushes us onto them.

On the path of pain we also see that a new order always emerges from chaos. A new order that has combined learning and experience to keep us moving forward. These times of pain can be easier and easier to cope with, and can give us more and more peace, and have the potential to be times of great transformation, and, of course, of great opportunities.

“The most beautiful people I have met are those who have known defeat, suffering, struggle and loss, and who have found their way out of the depths “-

Elisabeth Kubler Ross-