I’ve spoken before about embracing pain and accepting its presence in your life. After all, expecting to live a life without pain and tragedy would be a foolish pursuit. Pain is inevitable. If you aren’t comfortable embracing it, it will destroy you.
However, this week I’d like to open the floor to a good friend of mine, Zach McCall, who has some incredible comparisons to make between fire and pain. Namely, the idea that pain can both destroy, and refine the things that it touches… and how to use its refining powers to become a stronger person.
Zach recently spoke about this idea, and I wanted to share some of the key points on how to use pain. Read through to the end and I’ll include a link to his complete talk.
How Will Pain Affect You?
Whether physical, emotional, or mental; each time you come face to face with it the choice is yours— how will you allow pain to affect you? Because like fire, pain can either destroy or refine everything it touches. But it’s important to remember that successfully learning how to use pain as a tool is entirely dependent on you and how you cope with it. If you wish to be made stronger by your painful experiences, try paying attention to the decisions you make about these three key areas: ownership, healing, and vulnerability.
When you first encounter pain, it can be tempting to avoid claiming any kind of responsibility for it. We do this all the time. When a relationship ends, we often lay 100% of the blame on our partner. If we have a car accident, we think about what would have happened if “the other person was paying more attention.”
Unfortunately, this kind of behavior ruins us. This is where the fire is allowed to destroy us, making it impossible for us to truly heal.
Instead, it’s essential that you accept full and total responsibility for what happened. Only by doing this are you able to take control of the situation. It’s also the only way you’ll grow to be stronger. As McCall says, “I am who I am because of my choices.”
When pain is introduced into your life, you need to allow yourself time to heal. However, don’t dwell in your misery. Heal quickly and move on.
Too often, we can be tempted to play victim whenever calamity strikes. This is akin to picking the scab of a wound. When we do this, we’re looking to bask in the bittersweet glow of sympathy. And while it may feel nice in the moment, this is no way to heal.
In order to move on, you must refuse to play a victim. Recognize you’re hurt, then move on as quickly as possible. Otherwise you risk allowing pain to control you and hold you back.
We’ve all had our battles with vulnerability. Think about the first time you fell down and immediately screamed “I’m fine!” This is a classic example of blocking others out and attempting to shoulder your pain solely by yourself.
Do not do this.
When you refuse other’s help, you make your recovery much more difficult than it need be. This may be as simple as refusing to admit when you’re hurt, or could be as serious as neglecting professional help when you’re feeling suicidal.
In order to be refined by the pain in your life, you need to accept its presence and welcome the help of others. Open up, and allow yourself to be helped.
Which Path Will You Take?
McCall ends his talk by reminding us that while pain is inevitable, it is fully within your control whether or not it will be destructive or beneficial. The next time you come face to face with pain, will you make excuses, play the victim, and refuse the help of others? Or will you open up, heal what needs healing, and accept full responsibility for what happens?
One path leads ruin, the other will help you rise from the ashes, stronger than before.