Dealing with Pain and Hardships in Life

If you were to ask my advice on what it takes to run a business, you might be surprised by some of my answers. Of course it’s hard work, and you need financial resources, but running a successful business also requires resilience, tenacity and grit. Not every challenge you experience leads to a Cinderella story outcome. What truly matters is what you learn from your failures and disappointing moments and how you’re able to come back from them. 

These qualities apply beyond an entrepreneurial role.  If we can wade through the pain and disappointment of life, we stand to learn something bigger about ourselves. One of my favorite authors Glennon Doyle has profound words on resilience. She asks the question, “How would our lives and our relationships and our world transform if we stopped being so afraid of pain?” An important and inspiring lesson we can learn from her is to stop hiding from our pain and instead rush towards it making it our power. 

It’s within our human nature to do whatever we can to hide or escape from pain with vices and distractions that are readily available. Society doesn’t talk about how pain has the ability to transform our lives. Speaking on the topic of her book Love Warrior, Doyle explains pain is the “traveling professor” that pays a visit to everyone. She says,“the wisest ones say come in and sit down and don't leave until you've taught me what I need to know.”

It’s this idea of not escaping or hiding from our pain but rushing towards it, learning from it and making it the power that defines our resilience. Think of it this way, if we shy away from the fire, or avoid it altogether, how can we be refined by it? We cannot become that phoenix rising from the ashes without going through this process. 

From Doyle’s perspective, dealing with pain takes on a sort of “warrior” approach, but there’s one mistake we don’t want to make when embracing tenacity. It’s important we don’t program ourselves to be stoic in the process. Too often we associate having resilience, tenacity and grit with having rigid emotion or none at all.

When you do show up to the fire, do so authentically. It’s what psychologist and author Susan David would suggest. She gives a fascinating TED Talk on how we deal with our emotions and how they shape everything from our actions, careers, relationships, health to our own happiness. 

She explains that our society values positivity over dealing with emotions in a healthy way.  We’ve classified our emotions as good or bad and too often, we’re shamed or discouraged to have the “bad ones.” We do it to ourselves and to others as well.

What happens with these negative emotions? We push away or suppress that sadness, anger or grief in an ineffective way. According to David, we’re not controlling our emotions by doing this, they’re controlling us and when we push aside normal emotions to embrace false positivity, we lose our capacity to develop skills to deal with the world as it is, instead of how we want it to be.

There’s a Disney movie that I think nails this TED Talk from a visual perspective. If you’ve never seen the movie Inside Out, I apologize for any spoilers. The storyline revolves around an 11-year-old girl and the inner world of her emotions who play individual characters in the plot. 

Through a series of conflicts the girl is experiencing on the outside, her emotions on the inside learn the lesson that they are all valuable and not it’s not just the positive emotions that need to dominate her psychological space. In other words, you need to acknowledge all of your emotions to successfully navigate life.

I hope these ideas not only resonate within your own life but how you approach listening to your soul. David brings up the important point that “discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life,” and the same could be said about aligning our souls. The notion of following your True North doesn’t mean every minute is full of sunshine and rainbows. If I am going to be truly honest, alignment is sometimes messy and unpleasant, but if we’re truly listening to our souls, we know it’s something we must handle. 

The pressure of society will tell you to hide that ugly cry, or offer you shortcuts and ways to avoid pending obstacles. These external messages should be written off as distractions. If you’re following your True North, I challenge you to be present for the pain, discomfort and disappointment alignment brings with it. Be ready to learn from difficult experiences and be honest with your emotions as you follow your True North.



With all my soul,

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