Pain is unbearable when it is lasting and severe, and we do exaggerate about it, and the more we talk about it, it gets worse and deteriorates with time. Dealing with pain is all about our attitude towards it, all we need is cognitive distance, treating pain as a part of life, and separating thoughts from physical sensation as thoughts encourage pain; even if the pain is less, constantly thinking and talking about it, we feel it abundantly. Pain makes us strong, and the more we expose to dangers, the less we are afraid of pain and horrible situations. Hiding and running from pain come back in reverse: we feel more pain, we are scared, and we lack the courage to face adversity. Pain should be embraced in life since a life without pain is a life waste, such life is not possible as life is a struggle, and we should expect hardships and barriers in our lives.

“Pain and pleasure are neither good nor bad. For instance, one way of illustrating the indifference of pain would be to point out that, like other externals, pain can be used either wisely or foolishly, for good or for bad. An athlete might learn to endure the pain and discomfort of extreme physical exertion. In that case, deliberately exposing themselves through hard exercise to painful, or at least uncomfortable, sensations might be something beneficial insofar as it helps them to build endurance.”


  • Thinking about pain makes it worse.
  • Embracing pain subdues it.
  • View things objectively, do not exaggerate.
  • Study people who survived the problems you are facing now.

Separate your mind from the sensation:

When your mind is fixated on pain, you just make it worse. All you need to do is separate your mind from the sensation, and distract your thoughts. Focusing all the time on physical sensation, thinking, and talking about it just aggravates it. It is not the pain that hurts you but your judgments about it.

“It’s not events that upset us but our judgments about events.”

“Marcus describes the suspension of value judgments as the “withdrawal,” “separation,” or “purification” (katharsis) of the mind from, in this case, bodily sensations of pain and illness.”

Fear of pain does more harm than the pain itself:

Fear scares us to death, and fear of death is scarier than death itself. Fearing that pain would kill me will really kill you unless you embrace it and accept it. Looking at it objectively, and accepting the limitations of pain helps you cope with it easily. The first thing to embrace fear is to develop a cognitive distance from it, not thinking and talking about it all the time, but rather accepting it, the second thing is to control your fear. Once you have fear controlled, you have subdued your pain to a great degree. It is the fear of pain and death that cripples us, not the pain. Your thoughts do matter, thinking negatively about pain would cause more damage, approach pain in a positive way, and it will make you strong and resilient. Take pain as a blessing, not as a curse, and have this thing in mind the pain I have been enduring will make me strong. Do not say am I the one who deserves this? Why am I always in pain? Such thoughts make you weak and reinforce fear, think in a positive way; it will help you control your fear. The pregnant woman is afraid of giving birth, but when she thinks of her baby, her face lights up, her mind changes, and she feels joyful and blessed. Thoughts do matter when dealing with fear.

“Realizing that fear of pain may be doing you more harm than the pain itself can motivate you to start regularly practicing the psychological skills required to overcome intolerance of pain and discomfort.”

View bodily sensations objectively:

Exaggeration will make things worse, bearing a toothache is hard, but saying it is going to kill me makes the pain unbearable. You should be realistic, and should not escalate things by focusing on other parts of the body which are not involved in pain, but you do involve them: you have pain in your ears, and you are saying I have pain all in my body. You need to see things objectively, from the perspective of another person as a Doctor describes the symptoms of a disease that makes it easy to endure, adding extra things just makes the pain worse.

“Thoughts such as these reach through to the things themselves and strike to the heart of them, allowing us to see them as they truly are.”

View the sensation as limited in time, changeable, and transient:

Accepting that pain is not everlasting and permanent gives us comfort and the courage to fight it. We should accept that acute pain does not last forever, and we need to restrict the pain to the part that has the sensation, not spread it to the whole body by thinking negatively about it. Once you accept that the pain is limited, and will be subdued very soon, you beat the pain in the first place. What makes us scared is that we do not view things objectively, our minds stop working when we are hit by a tragedy or when we face a problem we have never faced before; we get confused.  Bringing past traumas back into the present while constantly thinking about the future deviates us from the problem we are facing now. We need to block our past and future as well when we are confronted by a problem; break it into chunks, study each part carefully, and reach a conclusion.

“Viewing things as changeable, like a flowing river, can help weaken our emotional attachment to them.”

“You might be familiar with the Persian saying “This too shall pass,” quoted by Abraham Lincoln, which makes a similar point. We can also remind ourselves how many unpleasant sensations have already come and gone in the past as a way of highlighting their transience.”

Let go of your struggle against the sensation and accept it:

Struggling to control things that are not in your control will just hurt you badly and will inflict much harm each passing day. It is useless to struggle against pain since pain heals with time, fixating your mind on it all the time will not help you heal faster, but the healing process will take much time since time stops when we want it to pass quickly. You should accept and embrace things when they happen to you in life, complaining would not help you, it is better to go along with them.

“Distraction can sometimes work for very brief (acute) pain, such as surgical procedures or dentistry, but avoidance strategies tend to backfire when used for coping with chronic pain.”

“Researchers call this urge to control or avoid unpleasant feelings “experiential avoidance,” and it has proven quite toxic to mental health.”

“In one graphic passage, Marcus tells himself that complaining about events is as futile and unhelpful as the kicks and squeals that piglets make as they struggle to free themselves during a ritual sacrifice.”

Contemplating virtue:

Accepting pain as a part of life will not just give you strength but will liberate you from the hardships you will likely face in the future. Reflecting on the lives of great people who dealt with a situation you are stuck in will help you a lot. You should have a positive mindset, thinking negatively will just make things worse.

“If you bear a fever well, you have all that belongs to a man in a fever. What is it to bear a fever well? Not to blame God or man; not to be afflicted at that which happens, to expect death well and nobly, to do what must be done: when the physician comes in, not to be frightened at what he says; nor if he says, “you are doing well,” to be overjoyed.”


We cannot escape hardships in life, but we can cope with misery and pain by accepting them as a part of life with a positive mindset that helps us see things objectively and from the lens of others. When we accept that the pain is limited and can last for a brief time, we feel grateful. Also, we need to study those people who survived the same problems we are facing now; we can learn from them and will be able to deal with precarious situations effectively.


  1. Robertson, D. (2019). How to think like a Roman emperor: The stoic philosophy of Marcus Aurelius. St. Martin’s Press.

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