Some people get the easy walk in life. They seem to be born in golden pastures and walk on lush green grass all the days of their lives. For others, the path is a struggle where every step feels like it’s on hot coals. But often, the brightest of souls are the ones who were forged in fire, and the wisest of feet are the ones that walked the toughest paths. While pain can seem insufferable when we are going through it, when we look back, in hindsight, we often find that it’s the pain that taught us the most valuable lessons, and that the darkness of yesterday has become the light of today. Here are 5 ways to turn yesterday’s pain into tomorrow joy.

Look for the lesson the pain teaches.

Pain always teaches a lesson. Perhaps you gave yourself to another too easily and ended up getting hurt. Perhaps you didn’t look after your health as much as you could have, and now you’re paying the price. Perhaps you were indulgent with money and are now broke.

There’s always a lesson to be learnt from the pain. Provided we learn that lesson, we will become stronger because of it.

Ask yourself; what lesson did your pain teach you? How are you going to use the lessons of yesterday to create a better tomorrow? Sometimes the purpose of a permanent scar is to remind us of what went before. Pain etches lessons into the mind, and these can serve us in the future.

Recognize that darkness makes the light shine brighter.

It’s a cliché, but without the darkness there can be no light. Without the pain of yesterday we wouldn’t recognize the joy of today.

When we are going through emotional pain, it can be reassuring to know that whatever pain we feel in those moments will only make the good times seem even better when they return, which they will. After all, it’s on those dark and dreary days, when the sky is full of thick clouds, that we most appreciate a beautiful summer sky. Most people who have survived depression agree that they appreciate the good times more because they went through the bad times. The painful moments actually make the good times better.

When you’re suffering, always remember, the pain of those low moments will amplify the joy of the next high. So, when you are low, think to yourself, “The next good time will be that much sweeter.” And when you experience a high, think, “I am grateful for this moment, and I appreciate it fully. I have seen how dark days can be. And now I recognize how bright this present moment is.”

Learn how to protect yourself so you’re never hurt again.

The majority of suffering is caused by an inability to protect ourselves. Those who enter negative relationships do so because they are emotionally vulnerable. Those who whittle away their money do so because they don’t understand the importance of saving. Those who make unhealthy decisions do so because they don’t appreciate their health enough. The pain we felt yesterday is usually caused by an inability to protect ourselves. We can grow from that. We can recognize how we ourselves led to our own suffering, and in so doing we can find ways to protect ourselves so that we never feel that same pain again.

Ask yourself what you could have done to protect yourself before. How can you use that wisdom today?

There is a purpose to pain. Sometimes that purpose is to show us how to protect ourselves so we can overcome a future challenge. Though your pain might seem like a wholly bad thing, it may have been like the big brother, who bullied you a little, but as much as was necessary to teach you to stand up for yourself in case a bigger threat came along.

Believe in a higher power.

Many people who overcome depression and emotional pain state that they found a higher power, a source of strength. We all have our own understandings of that higher power. And we all have a different relationship with that higher power. That’s fine. What matters is that we recognize that there is a power protecting us.

When we ourselves cannot see the hope, we can have faith that a higher power will be there with us to guide us through darkness to light.

Recognize the times in your life when it felt as though a higher power were guiding you. Understand that that same power is always with you. It will guide you through the bad times. It will share the good times with you. When you allow that power to be there with you, you are able to let go, because you trust, in faith, that all will be well in the end. If you cannot feel that power, one way to connect with it is through meditation. When you silence your mind, in meditation, you can feel that power with you. That’s one reason why meditation helps depression.

The next time you go through a low time, remind yourself that you are not alone, and that there is a higher power that is with you. That power will protect you. Trust in it.

Every time you overcome pain, be proud and reward yourself.

I’ve been through depression. And there were moments when I thought I would never find the inner strength to pull through. But I did. I found the spiritual strength to overcome depression. And I am proud of myself for having survived. And if you have survived depression, you should be proud of yourself too.

Every time we overcome emotional pain, we should feel proud. Emotional pain is a genuine challenge. Overcoming pain is the trait of a spiritual warrior. Like Bruce Lee said, “Do no pray for an easy life. Pray for the strength to endure a difficult one”. If you have overcome adversity you are a warrior. And you should feel like one.

Every time we overcome pain we must reward ourselves. Not just because we deserve the reward, but because when we reward our strength we motivate ourselves to create more of that strength. Rewards motivate repeated behavior. Reward strength and you will create more of it.

As painful as bad times can be, they also present an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to see how strong you truly are. And if you are able to face such times and pull through, surely you deserve recognition for your strength.

It’s time we change the picture on emotional pain.

Pain is not something to be ashamed of. Overcoming emotional pain is the trait of a spiritual warrior. Yesterday’s pain holds the key to tomorrows joy. Recognize the lessons pain has taught. Recognize the strength it took to overcome that pain. And above all, when you overcome suffering, be proud, for you have triumphed where others fell.

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