Pain cannot be escaped.
We spend so much of our lives seeking out safety and respite. We try to numb pain, dull discomfort, and run from the uncertainty, stress and anxiety of life. Yet no matter how much we try to make the comfort last, it is never permanent. The chaos of life floods through the cracks.
We put so much effort into escaping pain, and yet the people we look up to and admire most are those who have learned to embrace, and lean into the pain. The all star athletes, the celebrated authors, the accomplished business people, the wisest, most loving, and most revered individuals who seem have life "figured out"... they all stopped running from the pain. Instead, they've learned to turn around, open their arms, and embrace it.
Climbing a mountain is painful. Training for a triathlon is painful. Speaking in front of a group of strangers is painful. Writing a book, filming a documentary, asking for a raise, standing up for what's right in the midst of criticism, learning to ride a horse, running for office, committing to a relationship... all of these come hand in hand with their own pains. They stretch us. They force us to beat our own path. They break us down and make us rebuild ourselves into someone better, stronger, and more courageous.
When we embrace the idea that our dreams require a degree of pain - and make the decision to move towards that pain - the pain becomes our refiner's fire.
Pain and discomfort are a purification process.
Not only does it sift out the weak, but it sifts out our weaknesses. Our imperfections are slowly burned away as we push through and endure the intense pressure and heat. When the pain subsides we emerge as a different, vastly improved version of ourselves.
When we try to avoid pain rather than embrace it, we put off the purification process. Rather than opting for the refiners fire, we are beaten down by the elements. We are worn down and eroded over time as we try to fight against the inevitable. We've all been haunted by this kind of pain at some point. It's the inescapable pain we feel when we experience regret, fear, laziness, apathy, and inaction. It's the pain of choosing to be the victim instead of choosing to be the master of your own fate.
The pain you choose is what shapes your life.
You either choose to suffer for your dreams or to suffer in spite of them.
You can choose to risk the pain of a broken heart that often accompanies loving fully... or you can choose the the despair of loneliness, or the regret of never fully investing yourself into love. Both decisions include a degree of pain, but only one has a payoff.
Pain is an effect of being alive. Getting to choose your pain is a privelage of being human.
You can choose right now whether you want the pain that comes with working for your dreams of living a love-filled life, or to live in the pain of the nightmare of regrets that accompanies inaction.