The purpose of pain

“Pain is necessary, but suffering is optional”. When you experience psychological suffering, you develop resilience. But more importantly, pain puts everything into perspective. ‘

When we know our friends or family are suffering, let’s face it, I think we all want to take it away and make it stop. But, although it is a very strange concept to conider, especially in Western culture, I now view pain and suffering in a different light. I see it as a gift. This may sound strange but let us explore this further.

Firstly, as a very intersting article informs us: ‘Suffering is inevitable’. Suffering is part of the human condition. And suffering can be a vehicle towards greater things:

‘Using your suffering for self-development is a productive self toward personal growth.

This is what psychologists call “post-traumatic growth.”

According to psychologists Richard Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun, who interviewed people who suffered traumatic life events including grief or serious illness, dealing with trauma sets a powerful spur for personal development.

Tedeschi explains:

“People develop new understandings of themselves, the world they live in, how to relate to other people, the kind of future they might have and a better understanding of how to live life.”

I remember when I was doing my social work training. Part of this was doing interviews which were observed. On the day of one of my observations, I developed a migraine. The person being interviewed had eaten an egg sandwich and that had upset their stomach and the person conducting the observation had a bad stomach, so we needed to be near the door. I wore dark glasses because my head was pounding so badly.

I would normally have tried hard, but I was in so much pain, I simply sat and listened. And let the other person speak and speak and speak. I possibly said three sentences at the most. It was the best interview I did during my social work training. Why? Because there was a connection through the pain. I reached out from my own position of pain and the other person felt I understood their pain. That is my take on it anyway.

When I was doing my MA in social work, I endured great physical suffering; I had kidney stones, gall stones and rheumatoid arthritis all at once. I wanted to give up. And I twisted my ankle during my placement. But somehow this simply made me persevere, grit my teeth and endure. And I got my MA. I learnt through this time, the importance of suffering. And I have battled depression, so I understand that path also. And that is why I write about hope.

I wanted to share these things because suffering is not much spoken about today. However, at the moment a lot of people are battling Covid or other illnesses. So today’s recipe of hope is to think about your suffering and perhaps view it in a different way. Some of the kindest, nicest humans I know have really suffered greatly.

May you be able to walk on with hope in your heart, even in the midst of great suffering and pain, whatever that looks like X

References accessed 10/06/2020


  1. When we injure ourselves, the pain is telling us to be careful not to make it worse (and to rest, etc.)
    I think psychological pain is also alerting us that something is fragile and needs our attention.

    Liked by 1 person

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