There is a gift in our pain.
That might sound strange (or insensitive) for me to say, especially if you’re dealing with something really painful in your life right now.
What is the “gift” in going through a divorce, dealing with a bully boss, or struggling to make ends meet financially? That doesn’t even begin to mention the impossibility of finding a “gift” in developing a life-altering medical condition, having a child die, or being the victim of sexual assault.
To be very clear, I am in no way saying that those events are a gift. They’re not, and it would be insulting for anyone to say otherwise.
What I am saying is that after an intensely painful event, many people do uncover a special gift that they might have been unaware of before:
The awareness of how strong they truly are.
The Moment of Truth
You never know how strong you are, until being strong is your only choice.” -Bob Marley
I want you to think of something.
Think of the event in your life that is most responsible for making you into the person you are today. Let’s call it our “moment of truth.”
Not everyone can come up with something in response to this, but if you can, I’m willing to bet that pain played a role in it somehow.
For the past three years that The Positivity Solution has been in existence, I have heard from countless readers about the moments of truth that have shaped their lives. Here are only three of literally hundreds of stories:
- A reader went to a well-known amusement park, and because she was very overweight, the park attendants told her (in front of everyone) that she was unable to ride any of the roller coasters until she lost about 50 lbs.
- Another reader was bullied at work to the point where she contemplated suicide as the only escape from the daily torment she received.
- Another reader had three of her ribs broken by her abusive, drunken husband while her two young children cowered in fear in the adjacent room.
Here’s the common thread that these stories all share:
In each instance, that event helped them tap into a strength that they didn’t know existed–and as a result, that new-found strength positively transformed their lives in ways that they didn’t believe was previously possible.
- When faced with unbearable embarrassment and shame, Reader #1 found the strength to lose 75 lbs, reclaim her health, and her life.
- When faced with the realization that she was seriously considering ending her life over her workplace troubles, Reader #2 found the strength to build a rock-solid case against her bully, and because of it, the bully ended up quitting (before he likely ended up getting fired.)
- When faced with the reality that her two young kids could be in grave danger if she did nothing to stop the abuse, Reader #3 found the strength to leave in the middle of the night with her kids (and three broken ribs) once he passed out. Now, he’s deservedly rotting away in a prison cell.
There’s a reason why when people mention their moment of truth, it’s usually not the “epic vacation they took to Tahiti in 2003” or when they won $2,000 on a lottery scratch ticket.
Our moments of truth are usually born from pain.
That’s because pain exposes our strength. And it’s only our strength that has the power to positively change our lives.
The Sad, Painless Ones
This might sound a little harsh, but I struggle to connect with anyone who hasn’t experienced any meaningful challenges in their lives.
Since I live in Los Angeles, I personally know of quite a few of these people. Sadly, they’re usually the ones who habitually curse out the baristas at Starbucks when their coffee isn’t brewed to the perfect temperature. Because you know, that’s the stuff that really matters.
Even worse, I’ve found that the people who haven’t been touched by real life challenges are usually the ones who also lack empathy toward other people’s life challenges. Of course, that’s just my personal experience, but that’s what I’ve seen during my 41 laps around the sun.
More importantly though, I believe that people who have experienced pain are also more willing (and able) to help others who are suffering through similar painful situations.
Perfection does nothing for me, because it’s a made-up story with no purpose. It’s the very real scars that come from getting our asses kicked by our shared human experience that I want to see.
To me, that is true beauty.
Receiving the Gift
Just to be clear–I’m not a tough guy who loves pain. I’m actually the opposite–I hate it.
I used to avoid pain, but I now know that doing so is like trying to outrun our own shadows. That doesn’t make any sense, because similar to our shadows, our pain is a part of us.
It is far more important to spend our energy learning from our pain, instead of ignoring it or running from it.
Because if we choose to learn from our pain, we will find that special strength that can only come from the process of working through it.
And that is a gift that is worth the effort to receive it.
Do you believe in the idea that there can be a gift in your pain? Have you experienced a challenging situation and have you become stronger because of it? Jump into the comments below and make your voice heard!