It’s almost every day that I’m trying to help people appreciate, even thank, the pain they experience.
I know it sounds odd, but pain really does exist to serve us. In the most primal sense, pain is a gift to tell us to move away from damage – a mechanism built in to protect us from the dangerous world. Think about it, without pain you’d leave your hand on a hot stove and a minor, irritating burn could turn into serious third degree burns that leave your hand non-functioning. The pain protects you.
In the bigger picture, pain and discomfort are stage 1 for your transformation.
Think about a time you went to grab your favorite pair of pants. You take them off the hanger or out of the drawer and you go to put them on. Only this time, they’re not sliding on quite as easy. You jam yourself in there and go to button them up, only realizing the button no longer buttons. Or if it does, it digs deep into your skin and squeezes the inside of your body.
This is a disturbing moment for most people. It can be painful and depressing. Remember, those feelings are there for a reason. They are a call to action to start acting on your goals right away – to make a change.
The difference between hitting your goals and not
People handle these painful moments differently. Most people find quick ways to suppress or hide their discomfort. This is where things like smoking, stress eating, and drugs become habits. All these bad habits that run rampant do so because they are immediate state changers. They give you good feelings and they do so quickly.
If you’re doing something negative, the long-term effects will not be what you want.
Those who tend to be exceptional in our world take the pain and move in a positive direction because of it. Instead of stress eating when that button doesn’t fit, they commit in that moment to make a change AND they take one step immediately towards that change – maybe they throw all their chocolate in the trash. Maybe they download a calorie counting app and set it up, so they are finally going to start measuring their pounds and get it under control and hit their standard.
The direction you go when you feel pain or discomfort determines the trajectory of your life. If you want to thrive, you use that emotion as fuel.
Finding empowering meanings
The people who tend to falter in hitting their goals don’t use their pain as a fuel – they use it as an anchor or a weight. This weight attaches to them holds them down and sometimes it does that for their whole lives. We all know those people who live in that negative headspace and wallow in their pain. They’re always talking about their problems, but they never take any action to change it. After all, problems, and talking about our problems, is one of the worst addictions.
When someone loses the big game and heads to the sideline and says, “I suck and I’m never going to get any better,” we know what direction they are headed in life. When someone takes the same situation and adopts the “win or learn” mindset, we know exactly what direction they are heading in life.
The same situation is interpreted and used totally differently by one simple change in an underlying belief.
Never forget that discomfort is your friend
One of my teachers (Magali Peysha) takes the idea of pain being your friend to the next level.
She’ll often ask her clients to picture their pain or negative emotion as if it were a person. What would he or she look like? What does he wear? What drink does he like? How does he talk to you? Ultimately, what does he want for you in your life and why is he there?
This is a fun and useful activity to do if you are an imaginative and visual person and I recommend you play around with it. For those of you don’t like to dive into these activities, I’ll tell you again – your pain is looking out for you in some way.
Acknowledge it and then act. Don’t react and grab another candy bar or another cigarette.
Try this: Think of something that causes you discomfort. Maybe it’s looking at your bank account. Maybe it’s getting on the scale. Maybe it’s thinking about the last time you had sex. Whatever it is, put your focus on it and feel that discomfort for just a minute until you feel emotional enough that you want to take an action. When the emotion is strong, take one step in the right direction. One action that can get you momentum and do it.
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