Nobody likes emotional pain. While there’s never a good time for it to arise, it always seems to strike at the worst possible moments, and can easily overwhelm our ability to complete even the most basic of tasks with any degree of proficiency.
With that being the case, it should come as no surprise that many of us do whatever we can to minimize our chances of experiencing it. We avoid relationships and tough conversations, remain in unsatisfying or dead end jobs, and refrain from trying new things, all in the name of risk mitigation.
While this may seem like the wiser and less painful route to take, I can assure you that it is not, and it’s something that I’m beyond grateful to be moving past in my own life. Here’s why I learned to love emotional pain and why I believe avoiding it could be one of the most harmful decisions you can make.
Your Comfort Zone Isn’t Comfortable
The easiest way to (seemingly) minimize pain within your life is to stay within your comfort zone, a range of experiences comprised solely of those things that you’ve already done to this point. It’s simple, you’ve done it before, so you know what to expect and can rest largely assured that it won’t thrust something unwanted your way.
This undoubtedly offers a degree of comfort, but only if you’re truly comfortable functioning within a compressed experience of life. Every time that we elect to stay within our comfort zone, we minimize our potential exposure to outward emotional pain, but we inflict a far more damaging inward emotional and spiritual pain upon ourselves.
We metaphorically shrink this vast universe into a tighter and tighter box, policing ourselves from ever experiencing everything else that this world has to offer.
I’m not suggesting that we all need to be relentless adventurers, but rather, that few (if any) people are truly satisfied with unrelenting monotony, so let’s stop pretending like we are.
How Pain Sets You Free
I’ve read and looked into various schools of thought when it comes to redefining how we look at and address pain, and the one that resonates with me the most is best described in “The Tools: 5 Tools to Help You Find Courage, Creativity, and Willpower.”
The book encourages readers to transform their view of pain from something to be feared to something that sets you free. Pain thrusts a new and challenging experience your way, giving you a direct opportunity to not only process something new, but also better equip yourself to handle so much more.
The book outlines a visualization technique that I highly recommend you try to help with this, but even without the book, I ask you take a second to reflect on all of the painful moments in your life thus far. Have they not all made you into a stronger individual?
We sacrifice so much of our lives to avoid pain, as if doing so will remove its presence within our lives forever. Remind yourself that some pain is inevitable and, with that being the case, why not enjoy the human experience to the fullest knowing that pain will be a part of it, rather than try to control things and limit your enjoyment and have to deal with pain anyways?
Don’t Believe You Can Grow to Love Pain? Here’s Proof You Can
As the old proverb goes, and as many people believe, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. While this holds true in some instances, it definitely doesn’t apply to risk aversion. Even if you consider yourself to be among those most fearful of emotional pain, you are living proof that you do not need to stay that way.
All it takes is a mental shift from seeing your comfort zone as your range of acceptable experiences to instead viewing it as your list of accomplishments thus far. Everything that is now securely within your comfort zone was once not there, and its presence required you taking the risk of experiencing it.
You showed the courage to do that and may have experienced some painful bumps and bruises along the way, but I’m sure that you wouldn’t undo those experiences at the expense of no longer being able to do what you proved yourself to be capable of.
So whether it’s a potentially painful conversation, a risky decision, or the pursuit of something you keep putting off, stop letting the fear of pain win and opt to let the excitement of expanding your life guide you!
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