We’ve all heard the phrase, “No pain – no gain.” Consciously, you might agree with the idea; it seems obvious that succeeding is often hard, unpleasant work.
Subconsciously, however, humans are terrified of all pain: physical; emotional; psychological. Tony Robbins said it best: most of what we do revolves around avoiding pain and seeking pleasure.
But what if you could use pain to your advantage? What if pain can help you achieve the impossible?
Too Much Pleasure Is A Bad Thing
Let’s say everything we do can be broadly categorized as painful and pleasurable. Things like homework and doing the dishes go in the first category, vacations and sex – in the second.
Change happens when there’s more pain than pleasure in your life. This gives you a reason to take action and turn things around; otherwise, why would you bother? Happy people don’t want to change a single thing!
Imagine you dislike your job but can only get a better one in another country. If you own a nice flat, have a great girlfriend and love your current city, you will stay. But if there’s no pleasure to offset the pain of your crappy job, you’ll leave.
The problem is, pleasure is way too easy to come by these days. When we’re sad we can turn to junk food, video games, etc. All in all, things rarely get bad enough to motivate people to do something.
The only exception happens when the pain of inaction is so big that it forces change. When you can’t take your misery anymore, you’ll stop procrastinating; stop being lazy; stop making excuses. You’ll simply change your life.
In fact, deep, intense pain over your life situation is the purest form of motivation there is. The more it hurts, the more you’ll do to make it stop; that’s why embracing pain is the key to achieving the impossible.
Building On The Pain
Now, I’m not telling you to become a masochist or intentionally seek pain. We tend to create our own unhappiness anyway, and there’s never a reason to make more of it than you already have.
What I am telling you to do is face everything that’s wrong with your life. If you’re obese to the point where your health is at risk, don’t tell yourself it’s fine; it isn’t. Instead, use your negative emotions as motivation to make a change.
I don’t want you to think I’m encouraging feelings of shame or unworthiness. I’m not – you’re already good enough, you always have been… But that’s not an excuse to be complacent.
When something in your life sucks, face the pain head-on. If you’re lonely and socially awkward, don’t stay in; go find the nearest bar.
Sure, you might spend an hour sweating bullets and gritting your teeth. Sure, you might feel awkward and never talk to anyone that night. But by your fifth visit, your frustration will get to the point where you feel compelled to take action.
(Then again, you could always stay home and wallow in your loneliness. Eventually, you’ll get bored and go outside.)
Is there anything you feel you should be doing but aren’t? Maybe you’ve been missing too many workouts; failing to eat healthier; slacking at your job.
Let me ask you this: if someone put a gun to your head right now and told you to step it up or die, would you you do those things? Darn right; you’d do whatever it takes to stay alive.
Pain is a lot like that gun. When you fear action more than you enjoy the lightness of inaction, you will do whatever it takes, possible or impossible.
So if you want to make rapid and drastic changes to your life, face your pain; use it as a springboard for action. You won’t believe how much you accomplish.
– George P.H.