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Meaning from Suffering

At times, to live life is to suffer. This is a hard world that has been described as a savage garden...and all too often we have experienced it's savagery. We experience loss unexpectedly, we have something happen and we cannot find a reason for, we have loved only to not have love returned, we have circumstances that just don't make sense, we have tried to stop an addiction, and we realize we can't force either a circumstance or a person to do what we believe they should or want them to. There are so many ways we can experience suffering that the thought of finding meaning in it, or even suffering well, can seem impossible.

Suffering is an inevitable part of the human experience, and it can come in many forms, such as physical pain, emotional trauma, loss, or even disappointment. However, while suffering can be overwhelming and seemingly pointless, it is possible to find meaning in it.

There are ways to find meaning from suffering, but it takes work. Let's take a look at a few of the ways we can find meaning in our pain:

  1. Acknowledge the pain: The first step in making meaning from suffering is to acknowledge it. Do not try to suppress or ignore the pain, as this will only make it worse. Instead, face it head-on and accept it as a part of your experience. Acceptance is not approval or an unwillingness to change the things you can, instead it is a view that says this has happened whether it is what I wanted or not. Only then can you begin to face it.

  2. Reflect on your values: Your values are the things that are most important to you in life, such as family, friends, career, or spirituality. Reflect on your values and see how your suffering relates to them. Does your pain challenge your values or reinforce them? Can your values provide you with comfort and strength during difficult times? Can the experience of suffering you are having deepen your commitment to your values, can it help you create new values?

  3. Learn from the experience: Suffering can be a powerful teacher. It can teach you about your strengths and weaknesses, your priorities, and your resilience. Reflect on what you have learned from your suffering and use it to grow and develop as a person. The other option is to stop growing and put up unhealthy defenses from the experiences in your life. It is to disconnect from your values, and to take shelter. We cannot learn if we refuse to face the reality of the situation.

  4. Find meaning in helping others: Sometimes, the best way to find meaning in your own suffering is to help others who are going through similar experiences. Volunteering, donating to charity, or simply being there for a friend in need can give you a sense of purpose and meaning. It is often helping others while we are suffering that allows healing to begin. Helping others not only brings meaning but helps us too.

  5. Seek professional help: If your suffering is overwhelming and you are struggling to find meaning in it, it may be helpful to seek professional help. A therapist, counselor, or spiritual advisor can help you process your pain and find meaning and purpose in your life. Sometimes we cannot talk to anyone. Sometimes the people who we want to talk to are the people who have caused the suffering. It will always help to reach out to a professional for help when you are in need.

Suffering in life is unavoidable, and just knowing that can help. It can also hurt. Accepting that suffering will come, but that it will not always be that way, can cause a person to seek healthy meaning from the pain. Have you always suffered? Realistically, we have had times that were not filled with suffering. Will suffering happen again? Most likely. With this in mind we can set our lives on a path to make the most of our time with meaning and purpose. This will help us live not fearing the next moment of suffering, but to enjoy life during the good times, and reflect on the good times during the painful ones.

After all, "you don't know what love is, until you know the meaning of the blues..."

If you or someone you know is struggling, please reach out to The King's Forge Counseling via our contact form at

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