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What is it called when you should to do something but don’t want to because it hurts but doing it would make you hurt less.

For example, You don’t want to be positive because you’re unhappy but being positive may make you less unhappy.

Would this be considered a double edged sword?

closed as off-topic by sumelic, Hellion, marcellothearcane, Skooba, TaliesinMerlin Mar 6 at 14:37

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    Welcome to EL&U, Paul! This question is difficult to answer as an EL&U question because it is very broad. If you want to make this a question here, flesh out the question by showing a bit more research and giving a clear example sentence where your word or phrase would be used. Also, since this seems to be a psychology-related question, consider asking on the Psychology Stack Exchange. They will be able to explain not just terminology but the concepts and science behind it. – TaliesinMerlin Feb 28 at 19:08
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    No, it's not a double-edged sword, which applies to situations where something which has a benefit may also have an undesirable effect. A swordsman can injure himself when wielding such a sword. – TRomano Mar 5 at 13:45
  • "You don’t want to be positive because you’re unhappy but being positive may make you less unhappy." You mean: You want to be positive.... – Lambie Mar 5 at 14:20
  • @Lambie I can't see how that corrects the sentence. – Black and White Mar 5 at 15:40
  • The title in your question says the opposite of that statement. You want to be positive because you are unhappy [but etc.] and not: You do not want to be positive because you are unhappy [but etc.]. The two ways you say it contradict each other. – Lambie Mar 5 at 16:57
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If you're looking for an idiomatic expression, something along the lines of swallowing the bitter pill might fit the bill.

The thing with this expression is that it can also be said of accepting a reality that one does not want to accept, so it also carries the connotation of knowing that something is real and good, but not wanting to carry on with it.

An example in usage:

A: You know, you really should see a doctor more often, even if you're not sick. It helps you keep your health in order. It's also better to know everything is alright, than just guess at it.
B: You're right. I hate going to the doctor, but I guess I'll swallow this bitter pill, suck it up, and go. I haven't been in a while, after all.

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There's an adage that might fit:

No pain, no gain.

I believe it can apply to situations where someone avoids doing something that will improve their situation because the effort to achieve that improvement is painful or difficult. You cannot improve or advance without overcoming whatever difficulty or resistance attends the situation.

  • If you had quoted a reference source to back up your suggestion you would likely have seen that this expression is used to convey the sense that you need to put in an effort to achieve something, either by someone encouraging you, are as a statement that it was an effort but needed to achieve your ends. – David Mar 4 at 23:44
  • @David. I'm a long-time native speaker and know full well what this expression means. I don't need to consult "a reference source". I believe it can apply to situations where someone avoids doing something that will improve their situation because the effort to achieve that improvement is painful or difficult. You cannot improve or advance without overcoming whatever difficulty or resistance attends the situation. Your sense of its meaning, "to put in an effort", misses some of the nuance, IMO. – TRomano Mar 5 at 13:25
  • I said "quoted". Once again, this list requires answers to be supported by sources that the reader can consult. That is presumably why someone (not me) downvoted the question, which I come across because it was flagged as "low quality". – David Mar 5 at 13:37
  • @David: I'm not going to look up a phrase I know full well and then suddenly have my decades of experience with the language overturned by some definition somewhere. I would trust to my own sense of the language. – TRomano Mar 5 at 13:41
  • We all feel like that at the start. But the reason for the rule is clear, so if you don't want to stick by the rules, don't join the club. – David Mar 5 at 15:11
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I come up with "ambivalence" for this one. If I understand the example, the state of being positive is in conflict with the overriding state of being unhappy even though a reversal of mindsets could help to alleviate the problem. The two states of mind are ambivalent.

Would this be considered a double edged sword? No.

Would this be considered an ambivalent state of mind? Yes.

https://www.thefreedictionary.com/ambivalence

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