Tuesday, February 23, 2016

When do you give up?

I have learned that learning to distinguish discomfort and pain is necessary for growing up and getting better. Like getting better at a skill, at what you do or getting better at being a human being.

Learning a new skill or when experiencing something new creates a lot of discomfort. But this discomfort is not pain. Many people confuse discomfort with pain. You can work through discomfort. In fact, it is necessary to get comfortable with discomfort. People who give up easily believe that discomfort is pain. Others on the sidelines think, “That’s far too early to give up.” But they think, “You don’t know the pain I feel.”

Unfortunately, there are no secret sauces you can drink to learn the difference between discomfort and pain. The only way is to work through it.

Once you work through discomfort, there will be even greater discomfort. And it usually magically appears after you have some comfort from overcoming the first discomfort. And it usually appears when you think you are getting better.

This greater discomfort, perhaps we can call this pain is yet another pain that you need to overcome. Of course, there is then pain that you can work through and then there is pain that you can’t work through. How do you know? Well, drink six glasses of watermelon juice and the answer will appear in your dreams. You will know. I am kidding.  

Now, this is as cliché as it gets - pushing the boundaries to learn about your pain threshold mentors you into knowing what pains you can take and what you can’t. Bodhidharma’s shadow in the Shaolin cave told me this.

When you push the pain enough, you know your limitations. Limitations teach you what you suck at no matter how hard you try. But it also teaches you what you are potentially great at. More importantly, it tests your commitment. Commitment to your growth (whether it is growing to be richer, sexier, or wiser, or whatever) coaches you to keep ignoring the discomfort and keep pushing the pain boundaries (I think that’s why they call it growing pains.) You then grow to be great at those things you are committed to.

There ain’t no easy way out. Not unless you want to be mediocre.

How do you grow?

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