It’s true, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
But do we actually need any more painful experiences to break us down to build our strength and show us how to rise to our full potential? Many people would argue that we do. That we need to encounter more contrasting experiences in order to connect to the deepest part of ourselves and gain a sense of meaning and purpose—that we need to be tested.
If you are willing to stay present and connected to yourself and your body and witness moments of discomfort, then you don’t need pain to gain. Pain is a great teacher, but it’s not the only one.
It’s no secret that our culture promotes a hard work ethic. We value hard work, we believe in hard work, and we teach our children that hard work pays the bills.
And it’s not just about work alone.
Striving to push yourself hard in the gym, running a marathon, finishing your PHD, and doing a detox are other examples of the way we associate something of value with pain-staking amounts of effort.
But unless we can recognize the value we associate to pain, effort, hustle, and hard work, we won’t be able to break the patterns that keep attracting hardships into our lives in place of ease, grace, and pure joy.
Life only allows you to experience what you are available for. Meaning, that unless something is conceivable, and on some level acceptable to you, it cannot become a part of your experience.
I know that sounds a little out there, so let me make it super simple for you. Let’s pretend we are sitting at a coffee shop, sipping on our lattes, and talking about life, when all of a sudden, I told you that the guy behind us made a comment about you. He called you a “fat ass.” How would you feel? Chances are you’d believe what I said and react to what he supposedly said about you. Maybe you’d feel enraged, upset, ashamed, annoyed, or perhaps you’d feel called to turn around and give him the middle finger!
Now, come back to that coffee shop with me, and this time let’s pretend that as we are chatting, I tell you that the guy behind you made a comment. He said, “That girl can only speak Mandarin.” Now, unless you actually do speak Mandarin, I’m sure your reaction would be something like, “Uh. What?” You would not connect to that comment at all, because it would make no sense to you. In fact, you’d either assume the guy was insane and not worth paying attention to or that he must have mistaken you for someone else. In either case, you, your emotions, your body, your sense of self, your heart, and your soul would not be available for his comment. A comment about you being a girl who only speaks mandarin would have little impact on your life because no part of you would question it. You don’t speak Mandarin. It’s not bad or good, it’s just not part of your reality.
So going back to pain… why allow more pain to be a part of your reality? Why remain available to it or continue to see pain as the only pathway to learn an important lesson.
You can decide that from now on, your personal growth gets to happen as a result of life experiences filled with abundance, ease, and freedom. Because , whether you see it or not, You are the one deciding which type of experiences get to be in your reality and how you want to receive your life lessons from now on. You get to choose what you are available for and watch your perception of life shift as you make that internal commitment with your self.
Now, this willingness to learn through joy will not make you immune to pain, but with practice, the everyday moments of discomfort will shorten and become less intense, and you won’t feel obligated to linger in painful experiences and relationships for too long, because you will know that you can choose another way to receive meaning and significance in your life.
When pain loses its budge of honor and becomes just another fleeting emotion that gets acknowledged and then released, you can create space for another type of learning. One that is more about receiving and allowing than doing and achieving, on that will bring just as much growth, significance, and meaning into your life than your darkest moments ever did. Perhaps, even more…