16 Quotes About Pain to Help You Get Through It

Updated: Jun. 15, 2021

Pain will change you but you don't have to let it define you. Here are some pain quotes that may help you feel stronger and better able to cope.

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Chronic pain is often called “the silent epidemic”—with good reason. Nearly 20 percent of adults in the United States report living with chronic pain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It’s also one of the major reasons people seek out medical care, yet it’s very rarely discussed in public.

The impact on people and society is immense, both in measurable ways, like the amount spent on health care or the hours of work missed. It can also have an impact in many more subtle ways. Chronic pain is linked to drug addiction, disability, higher rates of anxiety and depression, and a reduced quality of life overall. (These are the pain symptoms you should know.)

Yet, despite the prevalence, there are a lot of misunderstandings and bad information about how common chronic pain is, who has it, where it comes from, best treatments, and how to deal with it. (Here’s how to get natural chronic pain relief.)

“It’s not something people are encouraged to talk about much,” says Cheri Gould, 50, of Boulder County, Colorado. Gould has pain daily from chronic migraines, fibromyalgia, and pinched nerves in her back. “I can’t count how many times I’ve been told to ‘suck it up’ or ‘put on a happy face,’ including by some doctors,” she says.

Looking fine doesn’t mean you are fine

But just because you don’t see evidence of pain—like a limp or a grimace—doesn’t mean it’s not there. “Pain hides in plain sight. I look normal and fine but trust me, I’m still in pain,” she says. “No one understands how much effort it takes to function at all, much less ‘normally.'” (These are the best OTC pain relievers for every kind of ache.)

It’s this type of pressure that leads people in pain to feel isolated, alone, and even ashamed, says Stephanie Mihalas, a board-certified psychologist and founder of The Center for Well Being in Los Angeles. Being able to share the details of your pain and to hear from others in similar situations is a very powerful thing, she says.

Dealing with chronic pain

“People who can’t be open about their pain are at a higher risk for depression and anxiety, which can, in turn, cause more pain,” she says. Having a support group of loving people and having therapy are two great ways to get the support and care you need.

Another thing that can be helpful—particularly in bad moments when you’re feeling alone—is reading inspiring quotes about coping with pain.

Pain quotes to help you cope

We found some of the best quotes to help you get stronger and feel better (and maybe laugh a little too).

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Strength is built, not born

“You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.” — Bob Marley, late singer, songwriter, and musician

Mental toughness and resiliency are key characteristics for bouncing back from problems and continuing to move forward. Not only can being strong mentally help you work through your pain now, but it can help you cross items off your bucket list.

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Learning to live with pain

“If I woke up in the morning and nothing hurt, I would worry I was dead.” — Unknown

This is funny, but it’s also true. People who deal with pain on a regular basis learn ways to function in their daily lives and adapt in creative ways.

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Find your people

“Chronic pain shows you two things very clearly: the amazing compassion of some people you hardly know at all and the disgusting selfishness of some people you thought you knew very well.” — Patrick Plum, who has chronic Lyme disease

Being in pain forces you to see things more clearly and to prioritize. This clarity is especially true for relationships. Some people leave you drained and in more pain, while others lift and strengthen you. (This is what happens to your body after a breakup.)

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You are enough

“Just because I did the thing yesterday doesn’t mean I can do the thing today. It probably cost me a lot.” — Unknown

Spoon theory says that everyone has a certain number of spoonfuls of energy each day to devote to different tasks. But when it comes to people with chronic pain, they start out with fewer spoons. This means it’s even more important to do only what you can do and not overextend yourself.

Once the spoons are gone, they’re gone. To get the most out of your spoons, try these natural energy boosters.

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The power of positive thinking

“Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.” — Buddhist proverb

How you experience pain is very individual and can vary from day to day. While you may not be able to “cure” your pain, there are things you can do to increase your ability to handle it. (For a little inspiration, here’s how Kristin Chenoweth copes with chronic pain.)

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“All you really need is hope and strength: hope it will change and strength to hold on until it does.” — Unknown

Finding hope can feel hard enough even when things are good. Also, it’s easy to lose hope when you’re constantly fighting pain. It’s worth looking for the silver lining though.

Start with these short inspirational quotes that will make your day.

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Embrace the suck

“Do not resist the pain. Allow it to be there. Surrender to the grief, despair, fear, loneliness, or whatever form the suffering takes. Witness it without labeling it mentally. Embrace it. Then see how the miracle of surrender transmutes deep suffering into deep peace. This is your crucifixion. Let it become your resurrection and ascension.” — Eckhart Tolle, philosopher and author

There’s something powerful about being honest with yourself about your experience. Fighting or avoiding the pain can be exhausting, but learning to accept your situation without judgment is the first step on the path forward. Use these therapist tips for finding hope in dark times.

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You are stronger than you know

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” — Kahlil Gibran, writer, poet, and artist

Great people all have something in common: They’ve overcome incredible obstacles. Everyone’s struggles are different, but your pain can make you stronger in just the same way that summiting a mountain or overcoming childhood trauma strengthens someone else. (Whenever you start doubting your own strength, read one of these self-love quotes.)

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A good friend is worth more than gold

“Living with chronic pain is hard, but dealing with those who don’t care or understand is harder.” — Unknown

It can be devastating when someone yells at you for parking in a handicapped spot you don’t “deserve.” Or, the situation where someone accuses you of “faking” illness for sympathy or doesn’t invite you to a party. It can feel like death by a million little cuts. It’s so important to find good friends who will support and listen to you.

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The choice is yours

“You either get bitter or you get better. The choice does not belong to fate, it belongs to you.” — Josh Shipp, author and motivational speaker

You may not have a choice whether or not to be in pain, but you do have a choice in how you deal with it. It’s not easy—simply telling yourself to “be happy” won’t work. However, a therapist trained in chronic pain can help you reframe your experience in a more helpful way. (Learn more about when positive thinking backfires.)

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Pain is just part of the problem

“…I learned that pain isn’t the whole problem and the absence of pain isn’t the whole solution. I know that even if a miracle occurred and suddenly my pain was gone, everything would not be fine. I would still need to deal with the damage caused to myself and others because of my chronic pain.” — Tony Greco, author of Meditations for Pain Recovery

It’s not just about how pain makes you feel, it’s also about who it makes you become. Focusing exclusively on finding a cure, without addressing the mental aspects, can be an exercise in frustration. (In the meantime, try eating these foods that fight inflammation.)

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She would know

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.” — Helen Keller, author and disability rights advocate who was blind and deaf

There are many examples of people overcoming incredible difficulties—like Helen Keller— and reading their stories can give you comfort and inspiration to deal with your problems. Start with these stories of famous people who overcame physical disabilities.

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Courage is a learned skill

“You don’t need to be brave all the time, sometimes 30 seconds is enough.” — Unknown

What makes people brave? Bravery comes from a combination of personal characteristics, training, friends, and knowledge, according to science.

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Rainy days and Mondays

“Having a chronic illness is like waking up and realizing it’s Monday, every single day.” — Unknown

Chronic illnesses and pain don’t just affect the person suffering from them, but it can take a toll on their entire family. Here’s how to survive a health crisis or a chronic illness in marriage.

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It’s the little things

“If opening your eyes or getting out of bed or holding a spoon or combing your hair is the daunting Mt. Everest you climb today, that is more than okay.” — Carmen Ambrosio, author of Life Continues

What you do in your daily life is far more important to your health and well-being than a big event or medical procedure. Here’s how everyday things affect men and women differently.

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The only way is through

“Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there’s got to be a way through it.”—Michael J. Fox, actor and activist for Parkinson’s disease research

Body changes can tell you a lot about your health, and accepting your body for what it is and loving it for what it’s going through, can be an important part of your health journey.