If suffering has made you bad, you have wasted it

If suffering has made you bad, you have wasted it

The title quote was born from Ida Bauer’s keyboard, no, not the one lived between 1882 and 1945, but from a Twitter account inspired by her (@ida_bauer_).

Ida Bauer (Vienna 1882 – New York 1945) also known under the pseudonym of Dora , was a patient of Freud. His clinical case is one of Freud’s most famous, who spoke of it in the books “Fragment of analysis of a case of hysteria” (1905) and “Psychopathology of everyday life” (1901).

Dora began her psychoanalytic journey at the age of 18, the general clinical picture was characterized by depression, irritability, suicidal ideation and marked psychosomatic symptoms (including aphonia). Regardless of the clinical picture and the dense literature that revolves around the Frau Bauer (alternative analytical pictures, criticisms of Freud, reworkings …) we will focus on what is the sentence in the title!

The sentence is not intended to diminish or disrespect the pain experienced by those who suffer, but only to be a food for thought.

“If suffering has made you bad, you have wasted it”

The concept of malice lends itself to a good number of interpretations (philosophical, psychoanalytic, economic, spiritual, religious, social …). To rephrase the sentence in less ambiguous terms, we can say that if suffering made you a harmful person, then you wasted it .

We start from this assumption: all bad people are harmful but not always a harmful person is also bad, however this premise does not mitigate, nor justify the damage it does to others .

As children failing to understand the existence of a point of view different from ours,  we give extreme importance to the effects without considering the intentions . In his experiments Jean Piaget (psychologist, biologist and father of genetic epistemiology) noted that in infancy young children evaluate others in terms of “good or bad” only on the basis of the effects they produce . Let’s take an example.

Story 1. Luca did not follow the toy he wanted, so to spite his mother, he grabs a glass and breaks it and throws it on the floor.

Story 2. Marco sees that the mother is very fatigued, decides to help her and while she tries, she drops a tray full of glasses on the floor, breaking 10 of them.

If a very small child is asked, “who is worse, Luca or Marco?” he will reply “Marco because he broke more glasses”. We see that for a small child, to elaborate the complexity that lies behind each behavioral pattern is impossible and its assessments focus on the effects produced .

As adults we tend to give a lot of importance to intentionality but we do not always have all the tools to evaluate the complexity that lies behind a behavioral pattern and, in reality, we should not even want them. In problematic and unbalanced relationships, in order to justify the other,  we end up subjecting ourselves to continuous humiliations and sufferings.

If it is true that we must try to understand the other, it is equally true that we have a sacrosanct duty to ourselves : that of respecting, respecting and loving us. The focus, at some point in any relationship, should no longer be on “why does it behave this way?” but on “how does your behavior make me feel? Why do I tolerate it? ” and, based on the answers, start an action plan . An action plan aimed at improving, in one way or another, the quality of one’s life and one’s emotional ties.

Turning suffering into resilience

Unfortunately, those who have suffered in childhood drag on a number of conflicts that are reflected in the outside world . Those who had a difficult childhood did not have the opportunity to develop (among other things) the ability to forge bonds of reciprocity, intimacy and stability. The other is often experienced as an instrument, an internal object and not as an autonomous and independent person.

A difficult childhood can turn into a lack of serenity, instability, inability to forgive, to make coherent decisions, resentment, depression and, very often, hostility, aggression and anger . The pain and frustration associated with one’s own difficult experience can be  discharged onto the other  without but and without oneself.

From the past one does not heal by forgetting but by accepting

A difficult childhood can be devastating but also used as a resource. At some point, even those who have had the most devastating past can get involved and aim for something better. The beginning is difficult because from the past one does not heal by forgetting but by accepting . Acceptance is not an action that is undertaken overnight, but a complex process .

If life has been hard on you, try to be less hard on yourself and those around you and know that you are no longer that child at the mercy of events. Today you are an adult and serenity becomes a personal responsibility , just as you are responsible for the way you treat others and the way you let yourself be treated by others.

This concept is difficult to accept because to do it you have to deal with the impotence  and pain suffered in the past, a pain that you certainly did not deserve.

There are always angry people, who see wickedness everywhere, who always look for a reason to quarrel and feel bad about others . These people reject the idea that serenity, at some point in life, becomes a personal responsibility . Refusing this idea, they condemn themselves to an unhappy life, lived badly, made of anger and grudges … and end up sucking other people too.


Some might think: “it is easy to speak of acceptance and responsibility for those who have never suffered!”. Ok, I’ll give you some news: you are not the only one with a difficult experience behind you , there is no primacy of suffering and even if you had to overcome it, this would still not provide you with any justification .

At some point you can decide whether to continue moving forward with all your pain and continue wasting it or use it to start again, transforming it into real resilience.

Resilience is not “not needing anyone” but the ability to be able to forge rewarding ties even in adverse conditions. The most difficult step to transform pain into resilience is acceptance: accepting that you have suffered, accepting that you cannot change the past or the people who have harmed us . Giving meaning to one’s suffering will set us free.

In this regard, I recommend you read my articles:

  • Give meaning to your pain and you will be free
  • You can be a better inner parent for yourself than you have had
  • Nobody has ever taken care of me, I’ll do it

Don’t waste the pain but use it to  understand the difference between a lost life  (your past) and a  life that still has a lot of hope  (your present). And if you think it’s too late, know that it never is because in this life every moment counts!

To think that it is “too late” is only a shortcut to surrender without attempting to get deeply involved. If you think you’ve tried a thousand times, maybe you still have more to learn. In this context, the help of a professional can be useful.