Most of life’s pain comes from how we thought it should be or that it didn’t work out as planned.
But what if it actually did?
Sometimes we can be the worst judge of a situation when we are in the moment but when we step back away from it, as time goes on, we begin to realize it was a moment that changed us for the better.
We become grateful for the uncomfortable and painful moments because they are actually what we needed to grow.
It’s all a shift in mindset. It’s not easy. Of course, it’s not easy.
But our mindset controls everything. We have a positive mindset when things are going our way, so why can’t we take that same perspective when they aren’t?
I know why. Because it battles every part of our being that was instilled as a child. We have to be upset, get emotional, or feel depressed when anything goes against what we thought should happen. We witnessed this countless times in our life. It has been programmed. It’s on autopilot now.
But that’s not how it has to be.
We have one life. One very complex weird ever-changing life where we happened to get into this body. We are conscious beings and one of the downsides of that can be that we feel deep emotions, attachments, memories, or aspirations. It can work in our favor or not. We choose.
We can remember the past and project into the future.
But all that matters is now. All that matters is how we handle the situation we are in now. The future will take care of itself when we get there.
So, for now, instead of losing our shit in one situation or another it might be helpful to remember that we’ve been wrong a lot about bad moments. Out of that despair came a new opportunity, a new relationship, and new learning. All positives are on the backside of a bad situation.
It happens to us countless times but our old way of thinking forgets. It only remembers that bad moment’s equal depression and struggle. It rarely remembers that there is hope and opportunity from all of it.
That’s the mindset we need to take into it.
Is it going to be hard? You bet.
Is it going to be painful? You’re damn right.
Is it going to test us? Fuck yea.
But our positive perspective will dig us out of it much faster and with newfound hope for tomorrow.
It’s not about being easy, life isn’t easy.
It’s about being hard, and managing our way to a better spot.
Has anyone else ever had a needle stuck in their eye?
Weird question, I know. But there’s a point, I promise.
I had a corneal transplant when I was 21 years old that went very well and I was healing fine until one morning 6-weeks later I woke up and had a hard time seeing out of that eye. I went to class and still had trouble. I immediately called my surgeon and went into his office. Apparently, I rubbed my eye too hard during the night and 30% of the stitches in the healing cornea came out. I needed surgery again.
Being a bit stubborn, I didn’t want to wait for a day or two to get into surgery and asked if it was possible to get it done now, in his office. I wish I hadn’t asked.
It turns out it was possible. I was given a couple of Advil and told to lie down on a table in one of his office rooms. What ensued turned out to be the most pain I’ve ever felt in my life.
I was awake, barely, if at all, sedated from the Advil, and watching my surgeon stitch my cornea back to my eye. Yes, you read that right. I literally could feel the sharp pain of needles in my eye and realizing I cannot move an inch or something really bad could happen.
As an aside, I give tremendous credit to the surgeon. How someone could have that steady of hands I’ll never understand. But I digress…
I reminded myself of this today on a run where I set a goal of 4-miles while wearing my 20-LB Weighted Vest. First, I hate running. Second, I never have run more than 2 consecutive miles wearing the vest.
So why does this all matter?
It matters because as I was hitting the 2-mile mark I could feel the fatigue in my legs set in (I had just done 200 Air Squats with the vest the prior day) so that was starting to take a toll on me and my feet were starting to cramp a bit. I had every right to stop and pat myself on the back and feel good that I accomplished a PR by surpassing the 2-miles.
But then I remembered the eye surgery and I remembered the pain tolerance I had built up through that whole event. Oh, I forgot to finish the story. After he completed it and it went well, I had to go back 5 hours later at midnight to his office because my eye pressure had risen to a level I can’t explain. I couldn’t even think straight and was puking, that’s how bad it got. If anyone has ever dealt with immense eye pressure you know what I am talking about.
I remembered I had relished taking pain and not having it bother me and using that as a badge of honor to push me through things.
This run was no different. I had to go deep down to help get me over that “pain wall” that I had put up in my head. The one that says it’s too painful, too rough, too hard to keep going. I had to find a way to overcome it and fight it.
My solution is creating a distraction. I distract my mind and divert the attention away from the pain to something else for just a minute until it passes. And then I thought about writing this article and how much the story would suck if I didn’t finish the 4-miles. See, I think the internal motivators are needed as well and I used them strategically when I need that kick of energy.
We all have a “pain wall”. Everyone is different and nobody can compare theirs to someone elses.
Do you break down that wall or stop at it every time you approach it?
Nobody can answer that but you and the only encouragement I can give is that deep down there is so much more pain tolerance we all have and just need to give ourselves that excuse or permission to pull it out. Use whatever method you like or try mine from above but I hope next time you encounter your wall you’ll be able to break right through it and form a new vision in your mind of what pain you can manage and overcome.
I’ve followed Ray Dalio for many years and this is one of his cornerstones to a successful life.
Pain + Reflection = Progress
You need to go through bouts of pain and then add the element of reflection to the mix in order to grow to the next level.
As I pondered this more, I thought about my sales career and the sales professionals I’ve been around. We were always taught, as many in sales are, to find the “pain” with the prospect. Pull out the “pain” and you’ll be able to help them realize where you can help them.
But how many times do we take our own medicine?
A virtual show of hands… How many people have figured out where their “pain” is in their sales process or career and worked hard to improve that area?
I didn’t think so. I’ve been bad in this department as well.
What we found that “works” is solid and we continue to use it over and over. Same pitch. Same play. Same song and dance.
When have we stepped outside that comfort and got really nervous or awkward or silly in order to improve?
Maybe an SDR is struggling to get the right messaging on prospecting calls. When was the last time you did a role play and got really uncomfortable? When was the last time you actually asked a prospect what they thought of your approach? When was the last time…(insert your own curiosity)
Maybe it is someone that gets nervous with large groups in presentations. Instead of continuing down that road, have you considered Improv classes? Toastmasters? Volunteering at an event where you are thrust into speaking in front of people? Again, insert your own question here.
We are really good at getting to the “pain” of our future clients but have an extremely difficult time putting ourselves in that painful situation to improve first.
It sucks but it’s the only way.
My question to leave you with is this…
What one thing can you do this week to feel some pain but know that it will push you forward to new heights?