Embrace Pain

A couple of days ago I mentioned the dynamic of pleasure/pain and how when it comes to human motivators, pain is a more powerful weapon.  While many people would like to do things for virtuous reasons, the truth is that most change occurs only after the pain of not changing gets great enough.  The pain of remaining the same needs to outweigh the pain of taking the action to change.  Without this, change usually is not part of the equation.

Internal or External

I use these two terms to illustrate the two ways we can utilize pain.  The first is internal pain.  These are the situations that we ourselves create.  For example, carrying around too much weight.  This is most likely a result of poor eating habits couple with little to no exercise.  It is a situation the person created for him or herself.  While one can blame genetics, a spouses cooking, or the proverbial thyroid problem (unless you do really have a lazy thyroid), the fact is this person is responsible for the weight.  Hence, taking the action to correct this falls upon the same person.

Externally created pain is something which comes about from the outside.  The breakup of a relationship or loss of employment are prime examples.  Under these circumstances, while the person might be able to go back and accept his or her part in it, result in an action taken by another.  The firing from a job is something that is decided upon by someone other than the recipient of the pink slip.  Ergo the pain was inflicted by another.

Before going any further, I will state that for change to occur, all pain has to be internally processed.  It does not matter what the source as long as the person embraces it and resolves to do something about it. 

It Starts With Responsibility

Taking responsibility is something few people want to do.  Today, people tend to excel more at blaming others as opposed to embracing what goes on in their lives.  This is a sign of weakness because it is placing power in the hands of other people.  As long as _________ is responsible, then for change to take place, _____________ needs to behave differently.  Powerful people accept responsibility, thus assuming the power to affect change.  So, if you want to change a particular area of your life, start by taking responsibility for it all.

This can be difficult when one is in a situation where the pain was inflicted from an outside source.  Going back to the job example, sometimes people are let go through no fault of their own.  Corporate cutbacks (or whatever the cause) result in a person being let go even if he or she did everything possible to merit retention.  Obviously, for most, this will result in a great deal of pain.  However, if one is ever going to affect change, it is crucial that person take responsibility for the situation.  While not responsible for the termination, the person is in control of what happens thereafter.  And that is where change can occur.


Resolve is a powerful tool if one will only allow him or herself to use it.  Sadly, few get to the point where they can adopt this viewpoint.  Resolve is the result of embracing a great deal of pain and deciding never to be in a position to experience that again.  In this instance a person makes a firm decision to change something so as not to end up in the same situation.  In the job example, a person might affirm that he or she is going to do all that is necessary to become financially free so as not to be at the mercy of an employer.  Perhaps this is starting a business and working one's tail off until it is successful.  Or it might be studying investing and structuring a life around that flow of incomes.  Whatever the decisions that ensue, they exist only as a result of having this resolve.

As was mentioned, pain is a motivator.  Unfortunately, most run away from it.  Certainly I am not suggesting that one seek out pain since life has a way of delivering enough on its own.  What I am telling you is that when it occurs, relish it.  Feel it with every fiber of your being.  While this might seem counter intuitive, the idea is to push you to the point where you will create the resolve within yourself to change.  We all know how difficult change can be.  The pain from "hitting a bottom" is not something we want to experience yet is has the ability to carry us through the obstacles which arise from change.  Understanding this basic idea will drastically shift how you look at pain.  While horrible in the moment, ultimately it can be our greatest ally if we allow it.  So put the pain to use by embracing it.  The situation is what it is.  That often cannot be changed.  But how you apply the pain when going forward is truly within your control.  Do not let it go to waste by avoiding it. 

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