“The pain you had endured in the past, made you the stronger person, you are in the present.” It’s a popular saying, and I am sure that all of us have heard this, and consciously or unconsciously believed in this. Most of the time, this analogy comes to us, in form of advices, where people with experience come up and say, that the pain they had endured in their lifetime, have made them a stronger person of today. Now to break down the equation of pain with strength, and see how problematic it is, we need to firstly look at a few examples, I shall put out.
A very close man in my life, went out of his home, to earn a living when he was just a boy of 22. He had his home’s comfort back in Kolkata, but he shifted to an entirely new city, new state. He started from the rags and now has reached the riches with his indomitable spirit and hard work. When I talk to him, he says that he is happy that nobody came to his rescue when he many a times, had trouble managing a square meal a day. He is happy that no one from his home, came to his rescue, when he survived in 48 degree centigrade, without even a fan and ate plain rice with just salt, for days, weeks and months together. But we all know, he isn’t happy with it.
He romanticises the pain he was put through, because that is the only way to forget and forgive and move on in life. Uptil now it’s fine, if one romanticises pain as a form of self mechanism to cope up with the betrayal and past traumas. But it is problematic, when one starts to think of it, as a norm. As the ONLY possible way, to make someone strong in life. This firstly trivialises one’s own past traumas, also trivialises anyone else’s trauma.
One needs to understand that an undue credit should not be given to any pain or trauma, which one had gone through, because a person becomes stronger due to his own inner strength, and the few people who might have been his support systems, but not the trauma or the pain in itself play a role in strengthening a man.
This deep rooted understanding of ‘no pain no gain’, is a construct of the society to legitimise instilling pain into someone’s life. Many academic institutions have played quintessential roles, in making people’s life a living hell by the same logic of, ”more the stricter rules and punishments, better the students’ life in the future”.
Last night, I engaged in a conversation with a girl, who proudly claims that she is a strong woman today, because her school was capable enough of traumatizing her, in her teenage, with their institutional misogyny, which made her answerable to them, among other things, for not wearing shorts underneath her skirts, which slut shamed her because she talked to boys in school fests and so on.
She fails to understand that this is her legitimisation of all the oppressions done on us, by people, institutions and society as a whole; which she chooses to romanticise.
“I understand that by engaging ourselves in tough situations, we make us habituated for the upcoming hurdles in life, but that is not the point on the first place”. Coming out of one’s comfort zone is not what we are concerned about, in this article.“One should definitely come out of one’s comfort zone, but that shall be one’s CHOICE. Anything otherwise is plain and simple harassment or injustice“.
Making people go into a strict regime of rules and regulations, are all schematic plans of the capitalist society to thrive. Why is it important to talk about? Because this deep rooted association of pain with strength, legitimises the wrong doings on us. It shouldn’t be like this.
You were bullied back in school days and so now in adulthood, you are a stronger person, is a freaking wrong and dangerous analogy. We should be aware that crimes like ragging, has the same underlying rationale of trying to make people stronger by harassing them. If you ask a bully, why he bullies and teases his friends, he shall answer, ” I was teaching him to be strong like a man, as he is a cry-baby”. It is not only the result of toxic masculinity in the society, but also the flawed association of pain and strength.
When we romanticise our pain and past trauma to pacify our minds, that ultimately it brought something good in ourselves. We are legitimising our wrong doers as well as their wrong doings. We should always remember that what we are today, is because of our own calibre, and not because someone somewhere, caused us trauma.
Lastly, it’s never okay to trivialise someone else’s pain, because you had supposedly a larger share of it, in your life time. I witnessed an elderly women saying a lady who was in a bitter state in her pregnancy then, that, ” Pregnancies were always more difficult in our times, I suffered alot more than what you are doing now”.
I recently came across another incident where an experienced person said, that he had endured tougher challenges in life, when someone was merely narrating her everyday struggles. This is another by-product of romanticising pain, an invisible fight about, ”who has suffered more in life and has still thrived, hence, is the stronger one”.
Another very common association of ‘pain with love’ leads to people stay in toxic relationships for decades, and sometimes, throughout their lives.
I had a friend who said, ”My boyfriend is really rude to me, he dominates me so much, and it’s painful, but I know he loves me because, one who can cause you pain, is the one, who loves you. “
These are all ramifications of romanticising pain . You cannot and should not legitimise someone’s toxic behaviour which causes you pain, by calling it love.
‘Pain and trauma’ are the never-ending elements in our lives. Therefore one needs to deal with them and move on, but in the process, one must make sure not to legitimise the wrong doings done upon others, as well as on own self.