I used to believe this. No pain, no gain.
I used to believe that I had to take the hard choice and do the difficult work. That I had to suffer…and most likely suffer a bunch. That, in some ways, the more I suffered, the better. Even as I’d declare that I didn’t want to suffer. That by suffering I earned my stripes and paid my dues, and somehow proved myself worthy.
Recently I’d been having a tough time with something, and while I wasn’t enjoying my suffering, I was justifying it with “this is what I need to do to learn what I need to learn.” That the universe was offering me this suffering path so that I could let go of defeating behaviors and thought patterns, and discover new ways.
I believed this. I told myself it over and over. Apparently I told other people as well. Because I said something like this to a friend the other day and she said, “You know, each time you say that I cringe. I don’t think it works that way. I don’t think we need to suffer to learn. I don’t think there is a ‘reason’ for our suffering, or something that justifies it. I think we sometimes suffer, and we sometimes choose to suffer. And it sucks.”
I listened to her. I let her words sink in. I sat with what she said. And I remembered another friend, to whom I’d been explaining my suffering one day. I remembered telling my friend that my suffering had been tough, but that I’d learned and realized so much. That I’d grown. That it was a positive experience because of what I had gotten out of it.
That friend listened to me, and then she knocked me over with one simple question. “Why don’t you just say it sucks?” she asked.
I stopped mid-sentence. I thought about what she said. All I could think was, “Wow.”
“It sucks,” I said. “It really sucks.”
With that I felt relief.
So, other than in my workouts, I’m coming to realize that I don’t have to feel pain in order to gain. I don’t have to suffer in order to grow. I can steer away from the hard choice and difficult work, and choose the easy choice and fun work.
I can learn and expand and flourish and evolve without the tough part. And that the tough part, when it happens, is just that. It’s tough.
“You don’t have to suffer continual chaos in order to grow.” John C. Lilly
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