As a certified coach, speaker, and trainer, I often coach clients through painful circumstances. We all encounter painful experiences in life. It is through pain that we get to know ourselves on a deeper and more intimate level.
Pain gives us the opportunity to face who we are right where we are on our unique journey. We can choose to be a victim, or we can choose to make different choices to navigate through the discomfort of the pain and embrace it.
The next time you find yourself overwhelmed by a painful experience, ask yourself, “Do I want to thrive or merely survive?” Your answer will determine the path you take by setting your mindset to overcome or succumb to your circumstances.
Allow me to illustrate through one of my own painful experiences. At 16, I found myself pregnant. All of a sudden, my dreams of college and a successful life vanished. My life was taking on a new course. I recall my Dad, and virtually every other adult in my life, telling me that I had just thrown my life away. They painted a picture of a gloomy, dreary existence.
At that moment, I decided to prove them all wrong! I didn’t care what it took; I would succeed and show all of them what I was made of. I confided in one of my high school teachers, and she said, “You can be whoever you want to be and do whatever you want to do. But, you might not live a conventional life. I have faith that if you want something badly enough, you will figure it out.”
And, figure it out, I did! Even though I married young, I still figured out how to complete my college degree, and have gone on to own several successful businesses. The pain from the past continues to fuel my passions to be the BEST possible version of myself, and inspire others to do the same.
Do you have pain from your past that can be turned into a growth opportunity? Changing your mindset about pain can propel you forward in powerful ways that you may not have thought possible when the wound was fresh.
Putting pain in perspective can empower you to push through, implement new strategies, and discover a new path. Life is filled with ups and downs. No one is exempt from life’s natural rhythms. Remember the adage, “Some days you eat the bear and some days the bear eats you!”? Well, it’s true for all of us. No matter how wealthy you are or how educated you are, we all face adversity. It’s how we grow, pure and simple.
No one likes dealing with painful experiences. But, pain becomes a great war story after the fact. It’s like a badge of honor we wear when we emerge from the battle victorious. Our stories can live on and inspire others in the midst of their battles. There is value in pain if you allow yourself to walk through it and not deny its existence.
Warren G Lester says “Success in life comes not from holding a good hand, but in playing a poor hand well.” Simply put, life isn’t fair, and we are setting ourselves up for disappointment if we think it should be. Utilizing intentional living strategies can provide coping mechanisms when we feel like we’ve been dealt a bad hand.
Pain can show up in our lives in many different ways. Let me list a few of the types of pain I’ve encountered:
- Pain of disappointment – I was pregnant with my fourth child and lost her in a miscarriage. I went on to experience the joy of delivering a healthy full-term baby girl a year later.
- Pain of change – I was in a job that paid in the low six figures when I decided to start my own business. Leaving the comfort of a steady paycheck caused anxiety and fear for the first year. As a result, I was able to change the course of my life by taking risks that provided bigger payoffs and ultimate freedom.
- Pain of financial loss – When the mortgage and real estate industry crashed in 2008, I lost my business, my home, and my cars. I applied lessons learned from external forces, and created multiple streams of income to prevent myself from being in a similar situation in the future.
- Pain of relationship losses – On my growth journey, I have had to separate myself from people who didn’t believe in my journey. As a result, I began building community with like-minded entrepreneurs who wanted to build successful businesses, who had similar growth goals, and who were supportive of my journey.
- Pain of responsibility – Being a business owner and being responsible for other families’ financial security weighed heavily on my mind. When we decided to close the doors of the mortgage company, I knew everyone’s family would be affected. It taught me about looking outside of myself and showing empathy toward others.
Pain is a classroom if you are willing to be vulnerable and transparent. Focus on the outcome you want from any given experience, and it can mold you into a better version of yourself. Here are several of tips for making the most of a negative experience:
- Be intentional when choosing your attitude. The assumptions you make and the expectations you set will determine the outcome of any given situation. Virginia Satir says, “ Life is not the way it’s supposed to be. It’s the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.” Choose your attitude wisely.
- Foster creative thinking. Neale Donald Walsh says, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Embrace your creative thinking abilities and turn your pain into gain. Use the anger and frustration you feel to fuel your problem-solving skills. Think outside of the box to find possible solutions for your situation.
- Embrace the struggle. Where there is no struggle, there is no growth. We will all face difficult times, but we will not all grow from them. Growth is your choice. Find value in the struggle and propel yourself forward.
- Lean into the curve in the road. A change of direction does not signify the end of the journey unless you choose not to take the turn. Life is filled with surprises that alter our course and change our ultimate destination. Persevere through the tough times by choosing a joyful heart and expressing gratitude for the experience. You will see a remarkable change in your outcome if you commit to this habit consistently.
- Take ownership of your life. Recognize that your circumstances are not who you are. They do not define your values or standards. You alone get to choose how you respond to each situation you face in life. Choose to be an overcomer, not a victim.
No matter what kind of life you’ve to lead up to this point, it’s never too late to rewrite the ending to your story. Making new choices today can change the course of your journey and open up new possibilities for growth. If you have lingering pain that is holding you back, take time now to reflect on that pain, face it and take action to bring healing.
Share your experience coping with painful situations in the comments section below. I’d love to hear what strategies you use to turn pain into gain!