31 Reasons To Be Grateful For Your Pain

by Asatar Bair on June 15, 2010

When we’re in pain, we tend to feel sorry for ourselves, and focus on the pain in a self-pitying way, which of course, makes it far worse. If we can shift to feeling grateful for the pain, we open ourselves to the lessons that the experience has for us. So here are 31 reasons to feel gratitude for pain.

  1. Pain is a great teacher. Life is so intoxicating, that we often miss the lesson life is giving us. But pain gets our attention like nothing else can.
  2. Pain makes life interesting. Life would be much duller without pain.
  3. Pain lets you know you’re alive. There is only a brief period in the life of the soul where we get to experience pain. Before we come to earth, there is no pain, nor is there pain after we die. Pain is the privilege of living on the earth, the price of admission for the manifestation of your being in all its glory.
  4. Pain reminds you of the fragility of life.
  5. By bringing your mortality to your attention, pain reminds you that life is a great opportunity. How are you seizing that opportunity today?
  6. Pain means you are going through rapid growth. We often forget this, because the larger design of our life is unclear to us.
  7. Pain matures you. People who have experienced a lot of pain seem older. Will that experience translate into wisdom?
  8. Pain gives you sympathy for others.
  9. Pain is an experience that all living beings share, and it can connect you to the experience of the whole of life.
  10. Pain softens your heart.
  11. Pain is an opportunity to be brave. Among some of the Native peoples of the Americas, it was seen as a loss of face for a warrior to be captured in combat. To show a captured warrior kindness, his captors would torture him to death slowly, leaving the marks of torture on his body for his tribe to find. This restored his honor, giving him a place in the lore of his tribe, and was called ‘showing brave’. This is an extreme example, but it may help you to deal with your own pain to think of it as an opportunity to handle it with nobility.
  12. Pain clears the way for inspiration, like a draft of cold crisp air clears your lungs.
  13. Pain deepens the experience of joy. Just as light and shadow are both necessary to perceive form, joy and pain give meaning to each other, enriching the experience of life.
  14. Pain teaches you to be grateful for the little things. I injured my floating rib  once doing martial arts, and it hurt a lot during the day, when I was laying down at night, and at lots of other times. It really makes me grateful for the times when my body feels strong and whole.
  15. Pain that you experience over time teaches you patience.
  16. Pain helps you to surrender. There are many times when we must endure a pain we cannot control. What a beautiful opportunity to surrender to the will of the One Being.
  17. Pain teaches you acceptance. Sometimes the pain will go away when we have fully accepted it.
  18. Pain can teach you that you are in control of your experience. If you anticipate and fear the pain, you make it worse. If you tell yourself the pain is beneath you, it gets better. If you tell yourself the pain is merely strong sensation, it becomes so.
  19. Pain breaks open even the hardest heart.
  20. Pain lets you know where your wounds are. All of us have sensitive hearts, whether we are aware of it or not. We may try to cover it up or protect ourselves, but our hearts feel pain and receive wounds. These wounds bring us pain, and its an opportunity to create healing.
  21. Feeling pain is much better than feeling nothing.
  22. Pain teaches you the value of sacrifice. Giving up something that is dear to you because of something else that is more important is one of the greatest of human qualities, and the key to accomplishment, friendship, and love. Sacrifice and pain are bound together; without pain, sacrifice would have no meaning.
  23. Pain is a loyal friend, one who will be there even if everyone else went away. Life has so few constants. It’s comforting to know that pain will be there.
  24. Pain causes change, and there is no change without pain.
  25. Love brings pain, and the greater the love, the greater will be the pain.
  26. The pain of love creates the opportunity to be healed by love.
  27. Pain brings the opportunity to triumph over self-pity.
  28. Pleasure lulls you to sleep, but pain wakes you up. In the continual awakening of life, pain is the alarm clock.
  29. Pain allows you to confront fear. With every painful experience, you have the opportunity to work with your fear; you can endure this, what’s so bad about whatever it is you fear?
  30. Enduring pain builds mastery. For some other ways to master yourself, click here.
  31. Pain connects you to some of the greatest human beings who have ever lived. Jesus could not have become Christ without the pain of the crucifixion. I have great admiration for Joan of Arc, Mansur al Hallaj, Noor Inayat Khan, and for the countless others who suffered pain, torment and death for their beliefs. If every pain I experience brings me closer to these beings, it’s worth it.

It is a kind of poetic irony that I wrote this article, and then lost it to a computer crash, which caused me some pain; this reminded me that I’m a student of what I write here.

The theme of the list above is about what pain could be, about the opportunities that pain brings with it. How do you actually take advantage of that opportunity? What has been helpful for me is to cultivate an attitude of embracing my pain, and to use my breath to experience the pain fully, as exactly what it is, not trying to pretend the pain isn’t there. Finally, and most importantly, it’s helped me to make my breath rhythmic, deep, and focused on my heart.

What pain are you grateful for today? And what pain do you struggle with?

{ 10 comments }

loveCarol July 14, 2010 at 8:10 am

in a fairly long life I had never experienced chronic bodily pain before this year – living with it is certainly a journey, questioning, looking for ways up from discouragement and self-pity, becoming more aware of how those around me are also constantly working with it…

my heart has felt numb for some time, many things I had invested great energy in have come to their closures…my spiritual life has been overturned…

thanks for this article – working with the mind today I can explore the possibility of being more grateful for this experience, which will surely be useful as I grow even older…

Asatar Bair July 14, 2010 at 8:28 am

loveCarol, thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. May your experience open you to new growth.

Linda Jenkins July 15, 2010 at 10:45 pm

This is so true. I am much stronger for having survived the pain that living has bestowed upon me. I have been through the darkness, emerged into the light, and am the better for it. I am compassionate, open to the world around me, and grateful for the lessons learned. I cherish them.

Asatar Bair July 16, 2010 at 4:43 am

Linda, thank you for your inspiring comment! -Asatar

Joyce Coley July 16, 2010 at 4:41 am

I have debilitating arthritis everywhere but my hair .. LOL
I am pretty much homebound so I make quilts as a therapy and to not dwell on the pain.
It seems that the creative process of quilting is like medicine or a balm.
You show some interesting ways to look at pain and I will continue to check your site and reread the 31 ways to look at and cope with pain.
Thanks you.

Asatar Bair July 16, 2010 at 4:55 am

Joyce, thank you, I think you just added #32: pain can motivate you to be creative. I just looked at your website and I’m very impressed with your creative output: quilting, poetic stories, drawing, blogging… wonderful! Thank you for your comment. -Asatar

Laurie~ a woman of many names August 8, 2010 at 8:11 pm

Asatar~

Pain has been my constant companion since 1992, maybe longer. Pain reminds me to be present and has become a beloved pedagogue…

i am grateful to read your list, the choice of your words, your many descriptions of pain.

i live by not letting my pain define me, by opening my Heart… i love Heart Rhythm Meditation.

Munay~

Musa

Asatar Bair August 9, 2010 at 7:46 am

Thank you so much for your comment, Laurie.
Asatar

Nachamah August 15, 2010 at 12:15 pm

I have Multiple sclerosis and arthritis. I take my day one day at a time. working in the garden and having fruits and vegetables growing and smelling the flowers growing keeps me going. I have MS but it does not have Me.
Thank you for your inspiration on pain

Asatar Bair August 17, 2010 at 10:48 am

“I have MS but it does not have Me.” There’s a lot of power in that statement. Thank you for sharing your wisdom, Nachamah.
love,
Asatar

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