Pain is power

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There are many reasons why people say that pain is power. In all our lives, we make sense of what happens around us through our own experiences. All experiences are carried in our short-term or long-term memory. While it is easy to deal with positive experiences which make up good memories it’s not easy to come to terms with negative experiences which make up bad memories. Bad experiences have a negative impact which may last longer and could even stop you from doing things which you may have previously enjoyed or from trying new things.

Our personal experiences have a major role in shaping and influencing who we become, where we end up, how we behave towards others, our likes and dislikes, and our goals and aspirations.  There are very few people who can go through life without any negative experiences which have brought them pain, whether as a child, a teenager, a young adult or as an adult. These experiences can happen anywhere, at home, school, work, holidays or just walking down the road and could stem from different situations in life. Below is a list of traumatic situations which could result into a bad experience and offset pain of some sort, in a person’s life:

  • Abuse
  • Being under or overweight
  • Betrayal of any kind
  • Bullying
  • Death
  • Discrimination
  • Divorce
  • Eating disorders; under- or over-eating
  • Feeling unloved by a spouse,or family member
  • Having to start all over again
  • Infidelity
  • Injustices
  • Legal battles of any kind
  • Losing something or everything
  • Losing your physical, mental or spiritual health
  • Loss of confidence
  • Loss of employment
  • Loss of self -worth
  • Physical separation from a spouse, family member or a friend
  • Political unrest
  • Poverty
  • Racism
  • War

These situations are unpleasant for anyone to go through and many of us will have experienced two, three or more on this list at some point in our lives. It is OK to feel angry, sad, depressed or upset at the person or situation causing the problem (you may even be mad at yourself, at society or even the world, but at some point in your life, you will need to stop being angry, take a minute and think).

There are things in life which can happen to all of us and, as difficult as this may be to understand, human beings can’t control everything.  We can, however, try to understand, change and live with some of the situations which we might find ourselves in. One thing that we do have control over, is how we choose to live our lives.  People’s lives can change in an instant, and it is what we decide to do with these changes, how we move forward and what we learn from what has happened, which has the most powerful influence upon our lives.

A bad experience which causes severe pain can push a person towards success and be life-changing when reflected on in a positive way. It is hard to do but important to remember that we all have the option of turning the pain into power. There are lots of ways this can be done; below is a list of the different ways pain can be turned into power, in one’s life, both in private and in public. This can be achieved by:

  • Refusing not to be defeated by the problem or situation and making sure that it doesn’t take control of your life. Fighting the problem head on and turning pain into power doesn’t mean that the pain goes away or that wounds are healed; rather it shows that you have chosen to confront the problem or situation rather than letting it take over you, choosing to turn a negative situation into a positive situation, acknowledging and dealing with your pain. Turning pain into power means that you have decided to channel your pain into something that will bring positive outcomes for yourself and many other people. This option allows you to think rationally about your situation whatever it may be.
  • Acceptance is key. When dealing with or going through a difficult situation and the pain caused by it, it is important to accept what has happened to you. When you accept what has happened to you, however difficult it may be, you will find ways of dealing with the pain. Accepting requires you to reflect on what has happened, the pain it has caused, the damage it has done and allows you to start thinking critically about how to move forward. The negatives in a bad in a situation will always be easy to see but when trying to come to terms with something, however, always find a positive and try your absolute best not to lose sight of it.  There is always good in a situation, however, bad it might be.  Acceptance allows you to come to terms with the pain, helping you to become less fearful or intimidated by the problem or situation, allowing you to focus on other areas of your life.
  • Let go of the pain. By letting go of the pain, you are choosing to let go of your past and focus on the present as well as your future. Letting go of your past will give you the mental space to focus your energy on your future. This will give you the opportunity to start or finish something you always dreamed of and perhaps chase and fulfil your dreams and aspirations. Your past is part of you but should not define you.
  • Use the pain to reflect on your life, think about what you have been through and where you are going to. Some people call this ‘a wake-up’ It is important to remember that some things that happen in life are unpleasant, but happen for a reason, the reason might be less clear to you at the time of the situation but would become clearer later in life. Pain caused by a difficult situation can sometimes push you to make some much-needed changes to your life.
  • Don’t let the pain take over your life; do your best to try and carry on with your day to day activities. One of the biggest signs of becoming overwhelmed is when you stop carrying out your day to day activities. It is important to try and carry on as not doing so may make you feel like you have let yourself down and failed those who are depending on you, which will add to an already pressured situation.
  • Do your best to make sure that you do not put yourself in the same situation again. This can be done by putting precautions in place (alone or with help from family, friends and perhaps professionals) and making sure that you are doing everything in your power to prevent or reduce the risk of the situation happening again. This is an extremely difficult thing to do, but an important thing to do and it takes immense power, control, and courage.
  • Help to raise awareness of the risks for others. You can use your situation to empower not only yourself but others around you in a similar situation.  This can be done privately; by helping others around you in a similar situation, choosing a profession where you work with people faced with the same problem, or publicly; by supporting charities or events involved in the issue or starting a group, an organisation or a charity which aims to tackle the problem. People who have been through an experience personally can be very effective in these roles because they have first-hand experience of the problem and can understand how those going through the problem might be feeling. Whether choosing a profession or helping others in a similar situation, you don’t need to share your past experiences, just working with those in a similar situation is enough or the visible scars or physical signs alone will tell your story. If something which happened to you in the past has left you with visible scars or physical signs, simply being able to be yourself and lead a normal life will touch and empower the lives of others.  Consider Paralympians, many of whom have unquestionably gone through life-threatening and life-changing events, but choose to be recognised and remembered for their ability and not their disability. People living with a disability of any kind are a great example, and proof that a difficult situation can be turned into power, choosing to live ‘normal’ lives, choosing not let their situation or the pain caused and hardship endured as a result of their disability stop them but instead, using their ability to live, achieve and fulfil their dreams.

What is the alternative?

The alternative to turning pain into power is being defeated by the situation, giving up or giving in to it, letting it overtake your life. While this is an understandable option for anyone to take when a traumatic event has occurred. Below is a list of reasons which will help you see how this option would not only be bad for you, your life but also those around you:

  • By letting the problem or situation defeat you, you give it power over your life. This might mean that you have to adjust your employment or stop your employment altogether, change or perhaps lose your social life but importantly, it could also damage your family life. Changes in any of these areas will have significant implications on your overall health.
  • Not dealing with the problem often means that it stays on the surface, primarily because it remains When the problem is unresolved, it is likely to keep affecting you, leading to other future problems which may also negatively impact on your life.
  • Not acknowledging or confronting a problem. Sometimes people disregard, ignore or overlook a problem for many reasons. Perhaps they don’t want to accept what has happened, as it brings too many bad and painful memories, or the situation or problem is too daunting and overwhelming and the individual just doesn’t know where to start, or may even be scared of the implications of solving the problem, or perhaps too ashamed and embarrassed of what has happened or the effect it will have on family and friends. There are lots of reasons why people don’t often confront or acknowledge what happened to them or around them. While it is understandable why a person might disregard, overlook, or ignore a problem or a bad situation for such reasons. The implications of not dealing with the problem, situation or pain caused effectively, can be life-changing not only for the person but for those around them.
  • Feeling like you are have let yourself down. Sometimes when a person doesn’t confront or deal with a problem or situation properly, resentment towards one’s self often creeps in, feeling severe letdown, not only on their part but also for those around the individual. However, it is the person who is in the situation who will feel the most let down. They will often feel as though they have failed to cope or address the situation, especially when he or she is the only person who knows about it. Situations that make a person feel a huge let-down, will often make a person feel guilty and resentful.


In life, there are many things which we can’t control and no matter what a person does, these things will and can happen to anyone.  We can only try to live with them and try to lead happy lives.

It is important to know the difference between problems and situations which we have control over and those which we don’t have control over, problems we can tackle by ourselves and those which require help outside ourselves because they are too big for one person to cope with.  If you are overwhelmed by a difficult situation, it is always best to seek professional help and advice

Accepting what has happened to you might be simple for some people; it might even take a very long time for others. however, never give up on trying to come to terms with what has happened, be patient and keep being hopeful because when you accept what has happened, however difficult it may be, you can move forward more easily.

When faced with a life changing situation, it’s important to try to think rationally and critically before making a decision. Even though you can’t predict how the situation may play out, it’s still extremely important that you weight out all the different options and possibilities to a situation.

Sometimes it helps to write down the good and bad aspects of your situation when making important decisions.  It may be useful to be able to go back to these points when you are having a low moment or even when you reach a happier time.

It is important to deal with pain which results from a bad situation or problem effectively, because not doing so leaves the possibility of it reappearing and affecting parts of your life.

It’s difficult to turn pain into power but it can be done and once achieved it can change not only your life but the lives of many others.

It is important to remember that every situation is different.  People are different, and the way in which people deal or cope with a problem or situation is different.  People’s painful experiences are different and, for these reasons, it is important to bear in mind that the end result, or desired outcome, might also be slightly different when applying these strategies.

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