I have often heard it said that we grow through pain. How can pain make us strong?
One aspect of good self-esteem is to have a sense of where our strengths
are and to have a sense of being able to cope. We can only really develop
that sense of where we are strong by having that strength tested. Otherwise
self-knowledge will be merely an assumption. But when we face adversity and
admit to ourselves that we handled it fairly well, we know we are strong.
Some people view strength to be the facing of some adversity with little
reaction and no sense that it is a struggle. Nothing could be further from
the truth. The image that I might use is that of a great weight lifter such
as we see during the Olympics. That person lifts a great weight over his/her
groaning and straining all the while, seeming just on the edge of collapse.
Yet clearly we would not judge such a feat to be a reflection of weakness.
So the groaning and straining we might do in the midst of facing pain is
simply testimony to the reality that it does hurt!
Pain whether physical, emotional, or spiritual helps us find our true
strength because pain pushes us to our limits. In facing pain we face fear.
self-doubt. We even sometimes face despair. These are the fires that temper
our inner steel, giving us confidence that, in the face of future pain, we are
capable of surviving. This knowledge in turn gives us a greater sense of
Richard B. Patterson is a clinical psychologist
in private practice in El Paso, TX. He is the author of three books on psychology