Friedrich Nietzsche: On Why Painful Experiences are Necessary for Our Growth

“Life without pain is meaningless. Pain is the source of all value in the world. It is test of one’s true worth”. Friedrich Nietzsche

There are moments in our lives where we feel pain sometimes intense pain, and the thing with this pain thing is, well they are a pain to deal with!! Pain tends to come every now and then in our lives in different ways ,but when it does come, it storm in like a hurricane and has this slow yet compelling sluggish existence. For me the best way to describe that internal feeling is in one word and that is OouchArghhhhUrghhhhhOuch! (well a few words rolled in to one!) This Ouch-Argh-Urgh-Ouch feeling just takes over…… for that moment at least!

Although, I know I  haven’t lived long enough to speak solely from experience, but I have lived enough (and read enough!) to have an understanding of the fact that pain is inevitable, though it is something pushed aside and seen like something that we shouldn’t experience; however being human, by default its something we all naturally feel, and feel it in different ways and deal with it differently.

Having said that, I’ve found that the greatest and most profound lessons I’ve learnt (and learning) have been through experiences where its been tough, its been really really tough! Maybe I feel it more so because I am quite sensitive, especially with my internals feeling so much tugging, toing , frowing and struggling in such situations………… but I always get through it…….eventually! And I always get through it feeling much better and stronger upon the aftermath.  Like they say “what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger”………. I’ve always wondered where that saying originated, so it was a pleasant and comforting discovery when I came across Friedrich Nietzche  who is believed to come up with this very simple yet implicit statement ; in his original words “that which does not kill us makes us stronger”.

His ideas and philosophies; in particular in his book  the Gay Science, he explains why he believes that pain is necessary in order to live a more fulfilled life;“life without pain is meaningless. Pain is the source of all value in the world. It is test of one’s true worth.”

Many great philosophers and thinkers such as Socrates idea of pain is quite the opposite opinion; as from my knowledge they interpret pain as more of a negative thus should be avoided at all cost as its an unnecessary evil etc . Which inevitably leaves one feeling bad, for feeling bad and then their bad because of that thought and feeling! In complete contrast  Nietzsche states :

“Only great pain, the long, slow pain that takes its time… compels us to descend to our ultimate depths… I doubt that such pain makes us “better”; but I know it makes us more profound… In the end, lest what is most important remain unsaid: from such abysses, from such severe sickness, one returns newborn, having shed one’s skin… with merrier senses, with a second dangerous innocence in joy, more childlike and yet a hundred times subtler than one has ever been before.” Friedrich Nietzsche

Therefore, we would be too weak to survive if there wasn’t any struggle or obstacles to overcome; the struggle is life’s way of strengthening us and if we don’t take reasonable risks and try to avoid pain like the plague then we wont be able to feel the real fulfilling feeling of happiness and joy etc, instead will only experience a mediocre version of that and everything else in life!

So in essence that Ouch-Argh-Urgh-Ouch feeling turns into Ouch-Argh-Urgh- Ouch-Ahhhhhhhhhh!: )

I don’t know about you, but I prefer the real deal in life even if it hurts! (pun intended!). Let me know your thoughts.

-Sophia Alisa Ali©

P.S: I will have my poetry blog post up on Sunday! 🙂



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25 thoughts on “Friedrich Nietzsche: On Why Painful Experiences are Necessary for Our Growth

  1. At 70, I can assure you that pain is one of life’s constant companions, as is death. In a sense we are born to suffer and die. In different ways and different degrees. Physical pain is necessary to strengthen our immune and internal healing systems – that’s the physical aspect taken care of. The other, much more profound aspect of pain is spiritual, a much denigrated state of awareness in today’s sad world. That aspect of pain is only valuable if it is entered into from self empowerment. There is a terrible pain of mind caused by empathy with a suffering world which if not engaged properly can give rise to many psychological problems. We read about those “alphabet” type sicknesses all the time, PTSD coming to mind. Empathic people get depressed, fall into drug reliance. Of course we possess the means within our minds to counteract that sort of thing – and drugs can’t “fix” mind issues. Our “spiritual” immune system is compassion. A transfer of energy from the basic selfish nature into selflessness. Now our pain becomes meaningful and useful. It makes us cry, and tears not shed for the self are very healthy. Tears wash the dust from the eyes and allow us to “see” the world differently, not as something to fear, or something to fear losing, but as a relationship that we can shape from sorrow to joy. Having attained that level of relationship we can quietly walk with death without any fear. Death is not an enemy, he is the door to infinite possibility. Some of us have walked through that door and even if we were forced to come back, we never forget the pull of it. Does it mean leaving pain behind?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your great response! you made some very valuable points, especially at the beginning with the comparison of the inner and physical pain! Thank you, for adding that in, as in retrospect, although i made reference to it, however it was in general terms, so I’m really glad you picked up on it and mentioned it, as it is a very important point 🙂 and you have a great point about empathy and how it can be a determining factor in ones well being, its not something I actually thought about until you mentioned, it actually makes total sense! i might look into it further and see if there’s been any studies done on it and write up my findings in a blog post.

      hmmm the last point, does it mean leaving pain behind? if its old pain then i say yes leave it behind as you got to make space for all the new experiences in life with a fresher perspective. who wants to be carrying around baggage? not me! ha

      Thanks once again, for such a thoughtful and well thought out response!
      Sophia 🙂


  2. Reading your post sent me back to Albert Camus’ renowned philosophical essay, The Rebel. I found this in his section on Nietzsche. “Because his mind was free, Nietzsche knew that freedom of the mind is not a comfort, but an achievement to which one aspires and at long last attains after an exhausting struggle.” I believe that fits in with your post.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Tom! That fits perfectly in with this post!

      In reference to Camus quote, it reinforces that anything worthwhile is never easy!

      i like the title of the essay “The Rebel” it certainly sounds like an interesting read for sure! is there free copies available online to read? The title reminds me of the movie “A rebel without a cause” although i haven’t actually seen it yet, I’ve heard so many great things about it!

      Thanks for, such a great response! 🙂

      Sophia 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. The star of Rebel without a Cause, James Dean, became a Hollywood legend despite only making three films before his tragic death in a car crash. I think he was about 24 at the time.
        I don’t know if The Rebel is online; I’ve got my old, dog-eared print copy. It’s pretty dense reading. I’m not sure if I really grasp more than half. But, the parts I’ve gotten are brilliant. The 15 pages or so on Nietzsche are among the best, as is the section on The Brothers Karamazov.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi,

      Thank you, for your comment. However, I’m quite confused, about you mentioning a poem? did it meant to read “post”? as this post isn’t one of my poems , its an article id written about Nietzche. Typos we cant get avoid them! lol 🙂
      If so I am glad you read it, and liked it, its such an interesting topic, i enjoyed reading up and writing about it.

      Sophia 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The true man wants two things: danger and play. For that reason he wants woman, as the most dangerous plaything. (Friedrich Nietzsche)

        yeah, maybe…


  3. Pain is a learning experience in feeling what is all around. If one cannot experience pain then the idea of what feels good is unknown. When pain is felt, a person can grow in the knowledge that he/she has felt it but may not want to feel it again, the thought of avoiding such pain would seem important and feeling the opposite would be more eminent.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have thought about this a lot recently as my first child was born. I would love to have his childhood where he has a loving family and everything he wants for. To be honest, I’m jealouse of him.

    But on the other hand I wonder how I would’ve turned out then. If I would be the person I’ve grown to appreciate and trust. Growing up in the end of an apartheid era as a toddler that was taken to checkpoints that went so badly that no person should ever whitness such a thing to living on the streets for months before I even made it to highschool.

    I moved to Europe and see them scobbling over excel sheets that are the wrong colour. These people dont look happy.

    I think for this reason alone that I knew what troubles where, I could disregard those that only look like trouble

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing your wonderful story, your right, I believe everything happens for a reason and makes us stronger people. And the reason you were able to give your child a great upbringing was due to the hard lessons you learnt as a child. The most successful people in life are those who usually came from nothing and made something of themselves. 💕
      Sophia 🙂


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