I am looking for a phrase (can be multiple words) to describe following situation:

Even if you do not like to do something, and try to avoid doing it, circumstances would keep repeating until you will learn how to deal with it, and accept it.

In my native language we have saying "Odriekaneho chleba hruby krajec", literal translation is "from the bread you do not like, (life) will keep giving you a thick wedge as long as you keep refusing it".

In real life: junior automated test developer (not assertive enough) is afraid (again) to ask senior developer for some changes (again) in the code which will make writing tests easier. Developer knows how it should be done, but keeps not doing it because it saves him some time, and it was agreed to make the changes. There is no good workaround, and junior needs to learn how to be assertive and request adding such agreed-upon hooks.

I am not looking for a workplace-related solution (I know it), but for a phrase to describe such situation.

I found necessary evil, is there something else? With the meaning that it will keep repeating, and in the end it is good for you to master it.

Edit: Answers so far have dark, negative connotations: "uphill task (battle)", "necessary evil", "bitter pill". I was hoping something more positive, almost karmic associations. Maybe it does not exist... :-(

4 Answers 4


Sayings similar to necessary evil are:

A bitter pill (to swallow):

[Cambridge Dictionary]

something that is very unpleasant but must be accepted:
Losing to a younger player was a bitter pill to swallow.

a (heavy) cross to bear:

an unpleasant or painful situation or person that you have to accept and deal with, although you find it very difficult

For one's own good:


1 : being or done for the benefit of oneself
// I know you don't want to do this, but it's for your own good.

In terms of accepting the repetition of something unpleasant, knowing that it will eventually lead to something good, there is no pain, no gain:


—used to say that it is necessary to suffer or work hard in order to succeed or make progress

  • "For one's own good" is closest so far (thank you), but does not have that refusal aspect and the hint of lesson being repeated until learned. Nov 6, 2018 at 15:08
  • @P.M I was really struggling with something that keeps returning (almost haunting you) until you deal with it. Doom or fate are things like that—but neither implies a good result or a beneficial life lesson. There may not be an English word or expression that encompasses both senses . . . Nov 6, 2018 at 15:21

Since the senior developer (apparently responsible/authorised to take the decision) is avoiding the chore, the junior developer needs to bite the bullet (get over their hesitation) and openly discuss it in the larger interest of the team.


bite the bullet

To do or accept something unpleasant, often after a period of hesitation. The phrase is thought to have come from the military, perhaps because biting a bullet was a common practice for patients, due to a lack of anesthesia. 

I know she's disappointed to have not gotten her dream job, but the sooner she bites the bullet and accepts it, the sooner she can move on.

Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.



1.1 An unpleasant but necessary task.

‘For me, it's so much more of a chore or a necessity than a pleasure.’

  • Adding the hooks is chore for the senior developer in my question, I am asking for a word/phrase for situation from POV of the junior. Nov 6, 2018 at 16:04

an uphill task TFD This idiom may fit your need.

A task that is very daunting from the outset and continues to be challenging.

As in:

Junior is facing an uphill task, needing to learn how to request adding such agreed-upon hooks.


You are talking about responsibility ! ^.^

re·spon·si·bil·i·ty NOUN

the state or fact of having a duty to deal with something

As for a "positive, almost karmic" phrase... tbd. Please hold, thinking@

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