I wasn’t always scared of pain you know. There was a time when I felt pain, but I wasn’t scared of it.
I have a 10 month old son Luke.
He isn’t scared of pain. He feels pain.
If you followed him around you would hear him cry between ten and 20 times a day.
He tries to stand up, falls over, feels pain, then cries.
He bangs into things. You can hear the bump. He feels the pain and cries.
My daughter Jessica, skinned her knee the other day. She was chasing a boy in the playground and fell over and skinned her knee. She told me the whole story after school.
She cried when she fell over because it was painful. She still isn’t scared of pain though. She will be chasing him again on Monday.
At some point however, somewhere between childhood and grown up, I started getting scared of pain.
Here are four reasons why it wasn’t a good thing.
1. There are benefits to being clunked on the head.
As I said, when my son Luke falls over it hurts. He feels pain. It doesn’t stop him trying to stand up though. He uses it for feedback to know that what he is doing isn’t working.
It lets him know that falling over isn’t the way to do walking. He can see that by watching others, but watching isn’t the same as doing. Theory has its limits. There is nothing like a clunk on your head to really teach you. Mostly I am scared of being clunked on the head. I am practicing though. I want to stop being scared of the clunks and get better at opening up to clunks.
2. Life is meant to be painful. It is part of the game.
At some point I got this strange idea into my head that life wasn’t meant to be painful. That if life was working well, there would be no pain. It was a foolish idea. That isn’t one of the options.
Here are the options in life:
Option A: A big life with big pain.
Option B: A small life with small pain.
I would really prefer the imaginary option C: A big life with small pain. Unfortunately though, it doesn’t exist. If I choose small pain, all I get left with is a small life (option B). Then I get really bored. The smart option is option A.
3. The pain is what makes it an interesting, challenging and passionate adventure.
Think about the movie Lord of the Rings.
Version 1. Frodo is in the Shire. Life is perfect & peaceful. Blissful even. Then a quest is offered. The ring must be destroyed in the fires of Mordor. He can stay in the Shire and be safe (for a time) or he can take on the quest and face immeasurable pain and almost certain death. He takes the second option. He battles creatures of all sorts, struggles through anguish, faces failure before finally making it to the centre of the mountain. He throws the ring into the fire. The ring melts and is destroyed.
Version 2. Frodo is in the Shire. Life is perfect & peaceful. Blissful even. Then a quest is offered. The ring must be destroyed in the fires of Mordor. Gandalf uses a spell and transports Frodo to Mordor. He throws the ring into the fire. The ring melts and is destroyed.
The outcome in both versions is the same only the first has more pain and struggle. Personally I wouldn’t go and watch the second version. If I wouldn’t go and see the movie, why would I choose to have that version as my life.
4. The Secret to Eternal Life
For thousands of years man has been searching for the fountain of youth. I don’t know if anyone has found it yet. But until I see in article in The Guardian online, I think being more willing to face pain is the best I have got. It seems to be the access to reversing the pull to have a smaller and smaller life. Being willing to face pain is the access to new business ventures & relationships and the more I put myself out there the younger I feel.
Pain is a good thing. It gives contrast.
Fortunately, I can practice not being scared of it. It is time to welcome it.
It isn’t going away.