The quote above is one of my all time favourites and that’s saying something, because there are a lot of good quotes out there. I love this quote because it speaks the truth about the complexity, beauty and irony of the human condition; happiness, gratitude and strength can blossom from pain and adversity. I truly believe that from the depths of darkness and suffering, whether it be from physical or mental pain or both, the stronger the roots from which can grow the tree of joy, compassion and gratitude.
Here are my 5 reasons why I believe pain can make you stronger than you’ve ever been before:
- Life is a journey, the only constant is change. With the good times, come the bad and vice versa. When we are suffering, be it from a relationship break down, loss of a loved one, from a physical/mental illness, or stuck in a rut where we don’t seem to be moving anywhere, we can rest assured that things can get better. “This too shall pass” and change will come again. We can take solace in knowing that the only constant is change. We do not need to fear change.
- With the bad times can come the ‘fight or flight response’ whereby we can get resourceful, creative, determined and reflective. For example if one is recovering from a relationship breakdown, once we have processed the sadness and pain, we can then choose to fight the temptation to play the victim and choose the path of action and empowerment. In the scenario of a relationship breakdown we may contact old friends, build new social networks, find a new hobby or learn a different skill. In short, we can find our mojo again and get going.
- I believe the more trials we go through and the more pain we have endured, the more compassionate and empathic we can become. Sorrowful times can turn into opportunities to not only help ourselves but help other people who may also be going through something similar to you. I read once of how a lady kept seeing another lady in the rest room at work who was washing her hands excessively and she looked quite distressed. On the fourth occasion that she saw this lady, she decided to start up a conversation and as there was no-one else in the ladies room, she relayed to her that she also used to wash her hands so excessively that they were red and raw and this developed into chronic OCD. She then told the lady that she doesn’t feel the need to do this anymore and how she got herself better by seeking counselling. They chatted for about half an hour and exchanged emails and the lady seemed grateful that someone had reached out to her. This is just one example of how our own individual trials can turn into opportunities and blessings to help others.
- Bad times can be wake up calls. It can be the body’s/mind’s way of saying ‘I’m here and please look after me and slow down.’ My mother is recovering from a bad case of pneumonia, however, thankfully she is on the mend. She told me the other day that a lot of good has come from the illness as before she got ill she wasn’t looking after herself as well as perhaps as she should have done (that’s not to say she blames herself for getting ill or that we should blame ourselves for getting ill as it’s not our fault) however, the illness can alert us to what we need to take more care of. Often anxiety and depression are the result of unmet needs, therefore, if we experience a bout of anxiety, it can be an opportunity to take stock and reflect what changes we can make in our lives to ensure we are meeting our own needs; whether that’s having healthier relationships with ourselves and others and being more assertive in what you want and need, or taking time to relax and treat yourself.
- I truly believe that bad times can in turn make us more grateful to be alive. When we are in the process of recovery or fully recovered, we may find ourselves having stronger feelings of gratitude and we may look upon life afresh with a different vision. “The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.”
Have you also found that you have felt stronger and happier after experiencing and recovering from something that has caused you pain and suffering? Your comments welcome!