Finding the lessons in pain can be very difficult, especially when in the middle of it. I know that I can and do learn from the hardships I go through. This happens because I’m pushing myself in some way. The pain is a feedback mechanism. It is like a child reaching out and touching a hot stove, you learn from that experience. No matter how much you listen to someone tell you not to touch the stove you don’t really know why until you do it. Pain teaches even as it burns.
Avoiding the pain is an option and is needed at times but is not a long term fix. It is hard and you need a place of shelter to recover, regroup and assess where you are and where you want to go. Take that opportunity of calm from the storm to learn and grow though. What is it that the hardship is teaching you?
I’ve experienced pain and hardship in a number of places and at different times in my life. Who hasn’t? I do my best to look at it as a signpost showing me something I need to change. I look at the source of the pain, what I can do about it and what actions will impact it. This helps me come up with an action plan to get out of the situation and grow from it so it doesn’t happen again.
I’ve been in jobs where things have been horrible. I have lost jobs. It is difficult and painful to go through a job disruption but each time I grew. I took the time I needed to feel bad, have my little pity party, and then I refocused. I have looked at what I could have done differently and assessed my behavior. Why look at myself? Because I only can control myself and my reactions. I have realized that I can become really emotional and emotionally triggered at work. This insight allows me to the ability to look at how I am at work. It allows me to change how I behave at work so that I don’t get so easily triggered.
I’ve also had problems with relationships where things have been painful. These can be much more difficult to deal with than work. Relationships for me are what I most value. Having problems in relationships causes me a lot of suffering and fear. It is what I’m most vulnerable to. This means that I am also open for the most growth from the pain in relationships. What does it mean when I’m not communicating well and fighting with a partner? Like with the job I can only change and modify my own behavior and reactions. Easier said than done of course! But it is the pain which points out where there are chances for working on the relationship and on myself. The pain points at something that isn’t working and lets you devise actions to change your situation.
Pain sucks but it’s also a great learning tool. If you follow the pain to it’s source you learn much more than you do just always being okay or even neutral. Pain is a motivator to change your behavior and reactions so that you become better at avoiding the pain in the future. Avoid it not by cutting yourself out of life and experiences but avoiding it by changing yourself to be more resilient.
Be like a kid and learn from pain. Don’t pull back from the pain but accept it and know it gives you options in life, options to grow. What are the hot stoves in your life which you are touching and learning from?
Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape.”
― Charles Dickens