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English is my second language and I was wondering if there is a proverb/idiom/phrase for this proverb/idiom in my language which directly translates to:

"Only who suffers can understand that suffering"

  • It's close, but no cigar: when you laugh, the world laughs with you, when you cry, you cry alone. – Dan Bron Jun 14 '18 at 17:50
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    There is an idiomatic expression using blues music. I cannot recall the exact phrasing, but it is something like "you can't play the blues if you haven't had the blues". – UserEpsilon Jun 14 '18 at 18:30
  • @UserEpsilon: That is an on-point suggestion. The man most frequently credited with the observation is Huddie Ledbetter (aka Lead Belly), back in the 1930s or 1940s. One publication that cites him uses this wording: "It takes a man that have the blues to sing the blues." – Sven Yargs Jun 15 '18 at 6:51
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I don't think either of these fit the description either.

I complained my shoes were too tight, until I met a man with no feet

and

TFD walk a mile in (someone's) shoes "To spend time trying to consider or understand another person's perspectives, experiences, or motivations before making a judgment about them. I know that certain people can come across as selfish or mean-spirited, but you should try walking a mile in their shoes before you dismiss them too quickly."

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learn (something) the hard way TFD

To learn or discover something through personal experience, especially that which is difficult, painful, or unpleasant.

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A general saying is you had to be there:

used to say that people cannot understand something because they did not experience it or see it themselves · I know it sounds weird, but it was so funny. I guess you had to be there.

I can't think of an idiom that expresses the same thing but is specific to suffering.

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