This week, I’m going to ask you to do something very interesting, and it’s potentially something that no one has ever asked you to do before.
I’m going to ask you to change your relationship with pain.
Sounds scary, doesn’t it?
That’s because, in a sense, it is scary. But it’s also necessary. Especially if you’re reading this and you are slightly interested in living a more positive life.
Increasing Your Pain Tolerance
If you want something in your life you’ve never had, you’ll have to do something you’ve never done.” -JD Houston
Many people I know tend to avoid pain.
It’s understandable, right? It is so much easier to avoid pain than it is to learn to push through it.
I actually used to believe that.
Now I understand the truth, and here it is:
There is nothing more beneficial for our overall well-being, happiness and success than increasing our pain tolerance.
Contrary to popular belief, our lives actually become easier once we are able to deal with pain more effectively.
This is going to be harsh (and intentionally so) because I know how much my life positively transformed when I heard this truth for the first time. Hopefully it will help someone reading this as much as it helped me. Here goes:
If you are unwilling to push the boundaries of your pain tolerance consistently, you are doomed to live a mediocre life. Even worse, you will die without knowing what it is like to achieve or experience anything close to your fullest potential. In other words, a low pain tolerance = a small life.
It’s true, isn’t it? People who can’t tolerate pain end up living tiny, sad lives that are exemplified by either A) living in constant fear of being hurt or B) doing anything to avoid pain–even at the detriment of their hopes and dreams.
Coming from personal experience with both of the above, I can confidently say that neither is an ideal way to live.
When I’m talking about pain, I’m not referring to physical pain (actually in some cases, I am), I am mainly referring to our willingness to push through temporary emotional discomfort to reach our goals.
And any goal that’s worth having in this world (cleaning up our eating habits, getting out of debt, quitting smoking, learning to stand up for ourselves, sharing your art with the world, etc.) is probably going to hurt a little initially.
- It could hurt to choose veggies instead of the chili cheese fries that you’re craving.
- It could hurt to be the first to say “I love you” without any idea if it will be reciprocated.
- It could hurt to release your album, start your blog, or open your business knowing that you could fail and become the butt of numerous jokes.
- It could hurt to workout hard at the gym, especially when it would be so much easier (and less painful) to stay in your warm and comfy PJs.
- It could hurt to put money toward getting out of debt instead of buying that new 4K Ultra HDTV (that you probably don’t even need.)
- It could hurt to finally confront the person who has been making your life a living hell.
Sure, all of those things could hurt. But here’s what absolutely will hurt in the long-run:
Consistently using the anticipation of pain as an excuse to stay stuck in a smaller life than the one you deserve.
The only way to lessen pain’s effect over your life is to experience it. Read that sentence again because it is so true.
Once you fight through pain, the pain shrinks and your pain tolerance expands.
And once your pain tolerance expands, you become more willing and able to experience more of life. That includes trying new things, learning things that you’re not good at, doing something that scares you a little to expand your comfort zone, learning not to take yourself so seriously, and most of all, living life to the absolutely fullest while you’re alive and able to do so.
Isn’t this why we’re alive in the first place?
Pain isn’t going anywhere, so running away from it doesn’t make any sense anymore (actually, it never did.) The fear of pain has controlled me for most of my adult life, and I’m committing to push through pain because I know that I will be of a greater service to my loved ones and to the world if I’m able to do so. I’m done with living small, and I hope that you’re with me on this.
For me, that means more vulnerability, trying new things in a very public forum (stay tuned for that shortly), going after goals that are way outside my comfort zone, delaying gratification when I would rather watch a movie or sleep instead of work toward my dream, and making my health a priority in ways that I never have before.
Are these changes scary and will they hurt?
Hell yes! But those things are not nearly as scary and as painful as this:
Leaving this earth and allowing my dreams to die inside of me, because I was too weak and cowardly to fight through my pain in order to claim them.
We All Have Drama
When some people aren’t running from their pain, they’re doing something even worse.
They’re glorifying it.
Everyone reading these words (myself included) has some serious drama going on in their lives right now. That’s why it is so dangerous (and deluded) to think that you’re the only one who is dealing with any drama. You’re not.
Personally speaking, I used to glorify my pain and drama all of the time.
- “None of these people know what it’s like to be broke.”
- “None of these people know how hard it is to keep up in school with a learning disability.”
- “None of these people can relate to being bullied.”
- “None of these people understand what it’s like to deal with racism.”
- “None of these people know what it’s like to fail over and over again.”
Blah, blah, blah…I’m embarrassed to admit that I would clutch onto my pain like a toddler clutches onto a security blanket. Even worse, I would wrap myself up in it and use it as an excuse to not take the necessary action to do something about my life.
Here’s what I know now. There is so much more to life than clutching onto our pain.
Our pain will never make us unique or special, because we’re all dealing with it in one way or another. Pain makes us common, not special. But do you know what will make us special?
Our response to pain.
Don’t be one of the people who chooses to hide behind their pain. We’re all hurting in one way or another (yes, all of us.) The real question is, will you be one of the special ones who makes the life-altering choice to rise above their pain? This is something that I believe we can all do, starting now.
Will it be easy? Probably not.
Thankfully, I know something that can make it easier.
Courage Needed: Apply Within
I have said it before and I’ll say it again:
There is no greater enemy to humanity than fear.
It has unnecessarily destroyed more lives than any disease ever could. That’s why there is no more important trait to develop in our lives than courage.
It may hurt initially to push the boundaries of your pain tolerance, but once you do, you have effectively reduced the amount of power that the pain has over your life.
But I’ve said enough about this. So, what’s it going to be?
Are you going to keep running away from pain? Are you going to use your pain as an imaginary badge of honor? Or are you going to commit to fight through pain to reach the treasure that’s waiting for you on the other side?
In the end, we can’t wish ourselves to be more courageous. We can’t passively think and dream about a day when we’ll be able to push through pain, and believe that “thinking and dreaming” will make a damn bit of positive difference.
There’s only one way to do it, and this quote says it flawlessly:
You don’t think your way into a new way of acting, you act your way into a new way of thinking.” -Keith Ferrazzi
Starting today, let’s commit to take action to push through our pain. Yes, it will hurt. But on a positive note, when we get to the other side of the pain, we will be changed forever.
And it’s that new person who will have the power to positively change the world, and more importantly, your own world too.
Have you ever avoided pain or hidden behind your pain as a “badge of honor?” Have you ever fought through your pain to reach a goal that you didn’t think was possible? Either way, jump into the comments and make your voice heard!