8 ways your painful past gives you a unique perspective on life

We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.

A painful past can leave you hurt, upset and tormented by your past experiences. But it can also help you see things from a different perspective.

For instance, it may help you have a positive outlook on life or give you greater hope for the future.

In what other ways does a painful past help you see things from another perspective? Well, that’s what I’ll be going through in this article.

So, here are 8 ways your painful past gives you a unique perspective on life.

1) It gives you a greater sense of purpose

When you’ve had a tough time in your past, it can help motivate you to achieve great things, giving you a greater sense of purpose.

For example, being bullied at school may give you the fuel to succeed, prove your bullies wrong and have the last laugh.

Chris Rock, a successful comedian, is one person that used his bullies as motivators for his success.

In an episode of ‘Inside the Actor’s Studio’, Chris said that bullying was ‘the defining moment of my life’ and that it ‘made me who I am’.

He even created an autobiographical TV show called, ‘Everybody Hates Chris’, where he makes light humour of the teasing and bullying he experienced.

2) You develop mental toughness in the face of adversity

Chris Rock used his experiences of being bullied as a source of strength.

This is not uncommon.

A painful past can help develop your mental toughness. Therefore, you’re better able to handle any challenges that come your way.

Every challenging experience you go through helps to build your resilience.

It’s not surprising.

If you’ve already been through the worst, getting through the next obstacle becomes easier.

It can also help you handle similar situations in the future.

Let’s go back to the bullying example. Obviously, bullying is not a nice thing to go through. But it may help you to develop the strength and confidence to stand up for yourself if anyone mistreats you in the future.

David Goggins is a motivational speaker who embodies mental toughness and has used this mentality to achieve many accomplishments.

He has completed over 60 ultra marathons, entered the Guinness World Records for doing 4013 pull-ups in 17 hours, and successfully completed Seal training.

I mention all of this because David had a difficult upbringing and had many setbacks.

He was beaten by his Father, bullied and forced to drop out of the army after being diagnosed with sickle cell anaemia, to name a few. But these challenges helped him to push himself.

In fact, David has said that he likes to constantly push himself out of his comfort zone as it helps him in his journey of self-discovery.

3) You have a better understanding of yourself

This brings me to my next point.

Hardship can help you to better understand yourself and your capabilities. Your strengths and weaknesses, motivation, goals and the type of people you want in your life.

For example, being mistreated in the past could help you understand the behaviour you will and won’t tolerate.

It can also help you understand your core values and the person you want to be. For example, you may learn that you wish to be someone who shows compassion, helps others, and does good in the world.

Having a better understanding of yourself can also help you make better future choices.

For instance, if you used to struggle with addiction, you may better understand your triggers, so you can avoid them.

4) You’re able to take control of your own life

A painful past not only helps to develop your mental toughness. It can also help you take control of your own life.

It can be hard to recover when tough times hit us. But adopting a resilient mentality helps you to get back behind that steering wheel and take control (aka bounce back).

Because of that mental strength, it also gives you the tools to tackle things independently.

Example: Growing up in poverty may help you manage your finances to live comfortably and within your own means.

5) You have a better understanding of the struggles of others

Because you have struggled in the past, you’re better able to understand the struggles of others and put yourself in their shoes. You may be a more compassionate and empathetic person as a result.

You’ve been through those wheels of emotions from your painful past. Sadness, pain, doubt, anger – so you know more than anyone that it pays to be kind.

You know that despite how confident or happy someone might appear, you never know what’s happening behind closed doors.

If you’re able to understand what others are going through, that’s a unique perspective to have.

6) You gain a desire to help others going through hard times

You may not stop at empathy and compassion. You might want to go beyond that and help others who are going through a tough period in their lives.

Perhaps you felt alone when you were struggling and want to ensure others don’t feel the same. Or you want to offer support to others that you never had. Or maybe helping other people gives you the strength to navigate your life.

Helping others could also be your sense of purpose, like what I had talked about earlier.

Some people like to vlog, blog, write books or podcast about their experiences. Not only is it therapeutic for them, but it helps people that have gone through similar things.

Other ways of helping others are volunteering or donating for a cause you’re passionate about.

7) You have a greater appreciation for the present

It’s easy to focus on the things we don’t have, especially when seeing how well others are doing. It can leave you feeling unsatisfied.

Some people might think they won’t be happy until they earn a certain amount of money. Or land their dream job. Or buy their own house. Whatever their goals are, happiness sits on the other side of it.

But you may see things differently when you’ve come out the other side of your painful past.

Instead of living for the future, you have a greater appreciation for the present.

You thank your lucky stars for the people in your life who treat you with love and kindness. The freedom you were once deprived of. The love for yourself that you never used to have. A lovely, cosy home. You know, the little things.

While you still have goals for the future, that doesn’t stop you from being grateful for the things you have in the present.

8) And a greater appreciation for the people in your life

I touched on this briefly but wanted to expand on this further.

If you’ve been mistreated or were surrounded by toxic people, you may grow to appreciate the good people you have in your life.

You might have been in a bad relationship but have a good one now. Or toxic friends, replaced by loyal and loving friends who love you unconditionally.

And because you appreciate those relationships, you are more committed to developing and nurturing them.

Final thoughts

While going through a painful past is difficult, it can help give you a unique perspective in life.

It helps develop your mental toughness when faced with difficult situations, an understanding of yourself and others, and a desire to help others who have or are going through similar experiences.

Through our past, we can appreciate what we have, live for the moment and keep our heads held high as we navigate this thing called life.

Natalya Edwards

Natalya Edwards is a content writer with experience writing content on diverse topics, from entertainment and music to personal development and short stories. When she’s not typing away at the keyboard, she enjoys gaming, reading and watching Korean dramas.

5 proven benefits of meditation and how to get started with a daily practice

If you do these 8 things for yourself, you’ve mastered self-love