The Differences Between Pain and Suffering

One thing I have been reflecting on with clients lately is the difference between pain and suffering. This distinction, is one I continue to be reminded about. Subsequently, I am going to share a little more around this topic of pain and suffering.

In this post, I will discuss –

  • What is Pain?
  • What is Suffering?
  • The Differences Between Between Pain and Suffering

Let’s get started…


What is Pain?

There are a number of definitions on pain. A couple indicate say pain is –

  • “physical suffering or discomfort caused by illness or injury” ~ Google
  • “physical suffering or distress, as due to injury, illness, etc.” or “a distressing sensation in a particular part of the body” ~
  • “acute mental or emotional distress or suffering” ~ Merriam-Webster
  • “Highly unpleasant physical sensation caused by illness or injury” ~ Oxford Dictionary


What is Suffering?

Suffering is –

  • “the state of undergoing pain, distress, or hardship” ~ Google
  • “the state or experience of one that suffers” ~ Merriam-Webster
  • “the state or an instance of enduring pain, etc.” ~ The Free Dictionary


The Differences Between Between Pain and Suffering

There are a few distinct difference between pain and suffering. They include –

  • Pain is the physical sensations or signals (within your body) that tells you something is happening within your body in relation to an event or situation.
  • Suffering is the interpretation or story that you tell yourself about the pain (i.e thoughts, judgements, beliefs etc). Fro example – “I am never going to get over this.”
  • A certain amount of pain is inevitable in life. For example – we will all experience loss, change, challenges, illness etc. in life. Suffering is optional.
  • Pain x acceptance (not approval) = no suffering. Pain x resistance = suffering.
  • Pain is real and we need to feel and experience the pain (not fix it) to allow healing to take place.


Over to You

If you have some time, you may like to reflect on the following –

  1. Is there anything you would add to the differences between pain and suffering? If so, please share below.
  2. How has this distinction helped you? Feel free to share your responses below!

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  • Venkatesh

    Reply Reply December 18, 2017

    Great explanation! Now I’m able to differentiate pain and suffering.

    • Jane

      Reply Reply December 18, 2017

      Glad it was helpful!

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