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I'm looking for a word or phrase that describes that something has been learned painfully (physical or metaphorical pain).

Example: I have ...... learned not to touch my eyes after chopping chili peppers.

Doesn't strictly need to be an adverb.

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  • In another situation you could use cathartic. "Learning not to be aggressive was a carthartic experience." – Weather Vane Mar 17 at 13:22
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    You could say I have learned not to touch my eyes after chopping chili peppers the hard way. – user405662 Mar 17 at 13:37
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You could use the phrase the hard way in your sentence.

through suffering or learning from the unpleasant consequences of mistakes.

"you're going to learn the hard way who you're up against."

So you could say:

You could say I have learned the hard way not to touch my eyes after chopping chili peppers.

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    Or, "I learned the hard way not to touch my eyes..." – A. Kvåle Mar 17 at 13:43
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    Agree "the hard way" is appropriate, but you've put it in an odd spot in your example sentence - that sentence implies that you chopped chili peppers the hard way, not that you learned the hard way. – Nuclear Hoagie Mar 17 at 13:45
  • @Nuclear Hoagie: Thank you. I have corrected it now. :) – user405662 Mar 17 at 14:37
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  • I have learned from bitter experience not to touch my eyes after chopping chili peppers.

from bitter experience [phrase]:

If you know something from bitter experience, you know about its unpleasant aspects because you have experienced it before

  • She knew from bitter experience it wasn’t worth complaining.

[Macmillan]

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A few terms that could fit:

I learned not to touch my eyes after cutting chili peppers the hard way.

"Dude, you guys have it easy. I learned judo at the school of hard knocks." [Idiom]

a cathartic experience works as well.

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    To see why this answer earned a downvote, note that "suggestions," "I agree," and "Hope these help" all emphasize opinion. Answers getting upvoted here carry authority beyond opinion. Don't be shy to write with authority when the answer is that solid. – Yosef Baskin Mar 17 at 14:53

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