Why you should learn to embrace the pain of life


Kevin Mangelschots

People often take being alive for granted. We chase happiness, while at the same time trying to mitigate the pain.

While this is logical, there’s no escaping the pain. Being alive inherently means you’re going to suffer. Life and suffering are intertwined just as love and hate are closely related.

Let me explain why you should learn to embrace the pain of life.

Why you need to embrace suffering and the pain of life

Image of the quote, “we must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey.”

Being alive is suffering

The main reason why you should accept the pain in life is because being alive means you’re going to suffer.

It’s not all rainbows and sunshine. That’s a utopia. People get sick, our loved ones will leave us, will die, and eventually, we will perish.

But let me remain positive. Life is still full of positive events and beautiful moments that make life worth living! It’s just that we need to stay realistic that painful experiences are part of existence as well.

Pain incentivizes us to learn new things

Another reason why you need to learn to embrace the pain is because it incentivizes us to learn new things. A lot of our actions are directed at limiting painful experiences, rather than going through positive events.

The reason for this is that we tend to feel the negatives much stronger than the positives. Thus, a lot of our behavior is aimed at trying to limit these hurtful feelings.

That’s why we typically learn much more from failures and going through suffering than we do from our successes.

Failures are chances to learn

That’s precisely why failures shouldn’t be seen as ‘failures’, but rather as chances to learn new things.

Failing, just as making mistakes, is regularly seen as something negative that we want to avoid. Most of us will agree that not achieving something we set our mind to feels painful.

Yet, we shouldn’t attribute it that way. We should celebrate it as an opportunity to learn something new, and to transform ourselves into something, and someone better. And we know that the lesson we struggle with, repeats itself until we learn.

If you’ve never failed in your life, then that means you’ve never attempted something challenging.

The sooner you accept the pain, the quicker, and more you can learn in the end.

Running away from pain will make it worse

Image of a woman running with a yellowish background due to the sun setting.

Running away from pain in the present will only make it worse in the future.

That’s because the problem is not resolved. And the things we avoid, tend to come back at an increased frequency and intensity somewhere down the line.

Hiding from suffering also entails that we can’t learn the life lessons we in truth should learn to prevent further agony in the present, and future.

Embracing pain makes you less afraid and less vulnerable

Embracing the pain makes you less vulnerable and afraid in the future because you’re taking it head-on and facing the challenge instead of running away from it. Thus, you’re choosing to fight instead of flee when we correlate this to the fight or flight response.

This will make you more likely to accept the suffering in the future instead of desperately trying to avoid it. Thus, you’ll be less nervous and fearful of the pain that’s yet to come.

Embracing suffering leads to acceptance of pain

Embracing your suffering leads to acceptance of the pain because instead of hiding from it, you’re deciding to face your troubles. And this is what life ultimately is all about.

We can’t avoid going through agony at some point during our lifetime. And only when you accept the pain is when you can move on with your life towards a more positive existence down the road.

That’s why you need to learn how to embrace pain and suffering. You need to know how to embrace emotional pain so that you can use it as a weapon, as fuel to spur you on.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How to embrace pain and suffering?

The quote, “much of the pain we deal with are really only thoughts” written on a blue background.

  1. Experience your pain

    Experiencing your pain is something that you will do automatically when you run into an event that you judge to be emotionally, or physically painful. That is, if you decide to take it in, rather than running away, and hiding from it.

    Regarding emotional pain, it’s up to our personal value judgment whether we deem something to be painful or not. The things you don’t care about, can’t hurt you, either.

    Don’t close yourself off from the pain. Own it, and allow yourself to feel the pain, no matter how horrible it might feel at first.

  2. Admit that you’re in pain

    You can’t learn to embrace pain and suffering if you aren’t willing to admit to yourself and others that you’re going through a rough patch in your life.

    If you lie too much to yourself, you’ll start to believe those stories. It’s also possible that you start suffering from cognitive dissonance, as what you say doesn’t align with what you truly believe deep down.

    That’s why you need to acknowledge that you’re suffering. Only when you tell yourself the truth can you change your own life for the better. There’s nothing you can do when you don’t admit that there’s something wrong.

  3. Explore why you’re suffering

    Exploring why you’re currently suffering is all about figuring out what you did to get to this level of distress, but also about what you can potentially do to change it.

    We can’t influence everything in life. As such, the pain we’re feeling from the death of a loved one, for example, isn’t something we could’ve prevented.

    But in a lot of instances, there’s something, or multiple things that we could’ve done better to prevent that suffering, or at least to lessen the pain.

  4. Accept that you’re in pain

    Image of the quote, “acceptance is the road to all change.”

    Accept what you’re currently feeling. Consent with the pain and suffering. I’m not saying that you have to like it, or that you should just roll over, and not attempt to change anything.

    But you’re only human. And as such, you’re not perfect, nor should you be. It’s only logical that you will go through agony sometimes. And that’s why you need to accept that you’re not this infallible, indestructible rock like we regularly want to portray ourselves.

  5. Explore what you can and can’t accept

    Explore your thoughts. Think about what you’re willing to accept, and what you most certainly cannot, or will not.

    That way, you’ll analyze what parts you’re most eager to modify, and what aspects are less essential to you personally. It has the added benefit of improving your understanding of yourself by telling you what parts are vital to you.

  6. Try to change what you can change

    Once you’ve explored your thoughts and what you don’t want to accept, it’s time to change what is under your control.

    Start with the thing(s) that’s most important to you. When the issue is too vast, you need to start small. Don’t try to alter too many things at once, since that’ll most likely lead to spreading yourself too thin, which reduces your effectiveness.

  7. Accept what you can’t change

    Accepting what you can’t change is necessary because it’ll only bring unwanted and unneeded stress in addition to anxiety. And this is a waste of time and energy since you can’t alter those things anyway.

    This part of the process seems simple, yet it’s surprisingly hard since there might be some things that we need to accept, but don’t want to. That’s why you need to give yourself the required time, while not judging yourself too harshly.

  8. Focus on the present

    The quote, “don't be stressed over something in the past, because there is nothing you can do to change it. Focus on your present and create your future” written in white letters on a grayish background.

    Focusing on the present makes sense since what’s in the past is already done, and what’s to happen in the future is something that we don’t know yet.

    Thus, living in the moment can aid you in embracing both the joy and pain of life fully, without worrying about the past or future.

    Of course, both serve a function as well. As we need to learn from history and our past mistakes, to prevent making those in the future.

    Thinking about the future can assist you in figuring out what you want to do, and become, and what you’ll need to change, stop, and start doing to reach those goals.

  9. Give yourself time

    As a general rule, it’s hard to embrace pain and suffering since it’s something that we wish to avoid, rather than having to accept it. It’s always hard to give something up.

    That’s a tall order, yet not impossible. But you’ll have to give yourself some time since acceptance is a process and not something that can be achieved on a whim.

  10. Don’t judge yourself too harshly

    Nobody is perfect. That’s why you shouldn’t judge yourself too harshly, either.

    Sometimes you might fail, or feel like you’re not doing as good of a job accepting things as you think you should. That’s especially true for perfectionists such as myself.

    That’s why you need to remind yourself to be kind to yourself, while simultaneously striving to improve. Continue working on the path of accepting suffering and pain, but also accept that it’s a never-ending process that will never be complete.

What does pain in life mean?

Image of a woman sitting in pain on the ground on the road.

Pain in life means that being alive inherently means you’re suffering.

Living means you’re vulnerable to negative emotions, diseases, getting separated from loved ones, and loved ones dying.

Thus, while life certainly has its beautiful moments, it is inherently agonizing as well since you can’t avoid these painful events. Sooner or later, you’re going to suffer from pain. Regardless of who you are, how much money you have, and what your social status is.

But it’s also this pain that allows us to grow in life. Without trouble, there would be no reason to improve in life by learning new things.

We can conclude that pain is life, just as life is pain.

Is pain a part of life?

The quote, “pain is part of life, it's what makes us human, it shapes us the same as love and laughter. You don't have to forget, but you cannot let it destroy you. Conquer the pain, don't let it conquer you” written on a red background.
Pain is a part of life. However, it’s not the only thing, nor necessarily the most important aspect of our existence.
It’s a part of life because it has vital functions such as driving us to learn new things in addition to being unavoidable since negative events happen all the time.

Is pain good in life?

Whether pain is good or bad depends on the perspective of each individual. We can say that it definitely has its perks, but too much pain can be detrimental as well.

Pain can entice us to learn new things to avoid painful experiences in the future, make us stronger, make us more capable, and teach us to persevere through hardships.

However, too much pain at once might overload our senses physically, but especially emotionally. That’s why people who have too many things go wrong at the same time regularly suffer from mental illnesses such as depression.

Without pain, there would be no ability to be happy and content. Because what does happiness mean when we’re never sad, or in pain? Contentment would most likely lose its value since it would be a common commodity, which would make it less rare.

What does, “life is full of pain and suffering” mean?

Life is full of pain and suffering, which means that simply being alive intrinsically means you’re going to suffer. That’s because painful events are unavoidable.

People you love are going to leave you, they’re going to die, you might lose your job, you can lose all your money, you’re going to get sick, and eventually, you’re going to die.

Is life painful for everyone?

A person holding a question mark in front of their face.
Life is painful for everyone because everyone will go through painful events, and will experience suffering during their lifetime.
Whatever your age, identity, political association, or income, you’re inevitably going to suffer during your existence.

Why do we suffer so much in life?

I think we suffer so much in life since we’re inherently imperfect, and since we form an emotional connection with other people, animals, and things.
But life isn’t eternal, nor perfect. Some loved ones will leave us, and others will die. Our pets will get sick, and perish as well.

Since we’ve created a beautiful emotional relationship with those around us, this will inevitably cause pain and suffering when something bad happens to them.

Why do we live but suffer?

We live despite the suffering since our built-in instinct is to keep the species, but also ourselves, the individual, alive. Without this inherent survival instinct, the human species would go extinct.

But to counteract this suffering, we humans try to find meaning in our lives. By creating something important that’s valuable to us and others. By doing things we enjoy, and find critical, such as creating loving relationships with our family, and bettering the world.

Do we need to suffer to be happy?

An unhappy face in the middle of happy ones.
Just like life can not exist without death, and uncommon/rare can not exist without common, happiness can not exist without suffering and pain.
The best thing to do is to accept that suffering is a part of life. That way, you’ll feel less anxiety, fear, and worry about all the pain that’s yet to come.

A lot of people desperately try to avoid all the painful experiences by running and hiding from them. That’s why they tend to worry a lot, and experience a lot of anxiety and stress due to constantly pondering and bickering over what can potentially go wrong.

But this is wasted time and energy since suffering is unavoidable in the end.


Image of the word, “conclusions” written on a black backboard with white chalk.

Living is wrenching, but beautiful at the same time.

While some might say that life is full of pain, I disagree. The struggle is all around us, but so are the gorgeous moments and memories. It’s just that we have to open our eyes and minds to see them.

It can even be argued that pain is life. That’s why you should learn to accept and embrace it. It’ll make your life easier, all the while enriching it!