Pain in Growth:

There are some constants in life that we can’t avoid. One of those that we are going to run into time and time again as we strive towards the goals we have set out for ourselves is pain. There is no avoiding it, with growth comes pain and from pain we can develop growth. This is something we need to look at, come to terms with and accept as we keep pushing towards our future.  Unlike the pain of physical injury though, this kind of pain can be a good thing, it can be a catalyst to the changes that we need and it can give us fuel so that we can drive towards what we want, if for no other reason than to avoid that pain in the future.

The pain we experience as we grow comes in two main forms that we need to understand and accept. The first is the pain that we feel while we are growing. This is the pain that manifests as worry, anxiety and fear. It is the pain of an unknown and unknowable future that we are diving into. It can also be the pain of losing some things that we are growing beyond. This can be activities that we enjoyed that hold nostalgia for us, but no longer serve us. Most frequently, it is going to be the pain of losing people that were once close to us. The fact of it is, that people don’t like change and as we change and grow, those people are going to become fearful and try to knock us back down into the place that they are comfortable with us in. If we want to grow, we may end up losing the relationship that we did have with them. If we are smart, mindful, and a little lucky, we can just transition that relationship into something else that is fulfilling, but that isn’t something to count on. Instead, we need to accept that this pain is going to occur and realize that the life we are striving for will be much better than where we are now. And that we will grow and gain new friendships and relationships along the way as well.  

The second kind of pain we will experience in our lives are those events that change us profoundly. These are points in our lives that change us on a fundamental level and cause us to see the world and interact with the world in a vastly different way. To reach the goals that we have set out, we need to understand that when these events happen, we have a choice on how they affect our lives. They can be catalyst that drives us towards the future we want, or they can be wounds that keep us from moving forward. By knowing that the choice is ours, when we have these events in our lives we can be mindful of our choice so that the choice isn’t made for us by our subconscious mind.

One of these events in my life was in my last year of high school and it changed the way that I interacted with the world for most of my life. In fact, I still find it adding filters to my perceptions that I have to fight constantly as they are not filters that serve me anymore. In high school I started to play soccer and got rather good at the sport. I had a natural talent that propelled me quickly in skill. In my junior year during the off season, I played for a semi-professional team and traveled around the nearby states to play. It was a wonderful time in my life and I look back on it fondly. Then, in the tryouts of varsity soccer in my senior year, I was cut from the team. To this day I have theories on why I was cut, but no actual answers to the question. Look at that, I had just come off playing semi-pro and the high school varsity team cut me? I was in shock to be honest and let the decision of how this was going to affect my life be made without my input.

The effect in my life is that I developed an understanding that I was never actually good enough. It didn’t matter what the situation or my abilities or achievements, I was never good enough. This has plagued my life ever since high school and even knowing it, I have to fight it.

So what does this have to do with pain? Had I been mindful of pain at that point in my life, I could have chosen how that pain would change me and taken steps to make it into a pain that fueled my life instead of being a detriment to it. I could have used it as fuel to show that coach, through my actions, that he was an idiot. I might even been playing professional soccer at this point if I had been conscious of my choice. Instead, I haven’t actually excelled at anything in my life. I have been competent, but in my own mind, never good enough. Now I am acting to change that.  I have taken control of my own life and of the pain that experience caused me and am using it to help better myself instead of belittling myself.

The moral here is that being active and mindful of the way that these painful events can change us is a key to shaping our lives in the ways that we want it to shaped. From here on out, we don’t have to let the traumatic events in our lives define our futures, it is our choice on how we move forward.