Is there a proverb, idiom for Those who are in line of fire only understand the agony. For the freewheeling back-seaters it is far too easy to sit back and say "Why do you worry so much?"


Jim: I think I made a big blunder in our report to the client today, think my boss will sack me tomorrow when he finds out. I am feeling suffocated due to the stress.

Joana (his wife): Relax Jim, you take too much stress. Nothing will happen. Come let's go for shopping you will feel pumped up.

Jim: How can I feel pumped up with your twisted logic. I am sure to lose this job. It is only those in the line of fire, who understand the agony".

Indians have a saying in marathi language "Jayachi jale tyala kale" which means "who is burnt only understands the pain"

  • You want an idiom that conveys all that? Besides, "in the line of fire", "freewheeling" and "back seaters" are already idioms.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 9:04
  • Did you intend "only" to refer to "those" or to "understand"?
    – Lawrence
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 9:29
  • Where's the "twisted logic"? Joanna is trying to stop Jim from ruminating.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 9:49
  • @Mari-Lou A What i meant by shopping was as if on a spending spree when Jim's and by extension their very househould source of income is going to stop assuming Paycheck to Paycheck senario. Sorry i should have put that in.
    – AMN
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 10:17
  • There are so many other non-idiomatic usages in your cited context that I don't think many native speakers would see anything exceptionally unusual or hard to understand about the final utterance. Where to be honest, I find understand the agony more "odd" than only those in the line of fire anyway. Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 15:07

3 Answers 3


Jim might say to his wife,

once bitten, twice shy
said when you are frightened to do something again because you had an unpleasant experience doing it the first time

Cambridge Dictionary


How about:

Joana (his wife): Relax Jim ---
Jim: Relax? That's easy for you to say. You're not in my shoes.
or alternatively "You couldn't possibly say that if you were in my shoes.

"That's easy for you to say" isn't an idiom, it just conveys to another person that they can't understand how you're feeling because they're not in your position.

"You're not in my shoes" is an idiom, it basically means to experience the position or feelings of someone else.

in someone's shoes
in (one's) shoes
Sharing a particular experience or circumstance with one.
It's easy to mock someone else until you've lived in their shoes for a while.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms

in someone's shoes
Acting for another person or experiencing something as another person might; in another's position or situation
American Heritage Dictionary of idioms

in someone's shoes
COMMON If you talk about being in someone's shoes, you are describing how you would feel or act if you were in the same situation as them.
"Stop and think how you would feel if you were in his shoes."
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary

There are also the variations "to put oneself in someone's shoes" and "walk a mile in someone's shoes."

In your example the first variation is probably most fitting. However if you want to make a point of soldiers' bravery or hardships in service to their country, you might say something like "We couldn't understand the sacrifices they make without walking a mile in their shoes."

As an aside there's a funny joke about the last one:

“Before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his shoes. That way, when you do criticize him, you'll be a mile away and have his shoes.”
― Steve Martin


This has something of the flavour of what you're looking for:

Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy. - Proverbs 14:10, NIV (Bible)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.