The Secret Hidden in Pain


Consider biological evolution. It is driven solely by obstacles and opposition. An organism doesn’t evolve when things are great. It evolves when things are bad, horrible even, so bad that its very survival is at stake. So does your mind too; only evolve when you get blindsided by unforeseen circumstances at four o’clock a rainy Wednesday afternoon and feel “How can I go on after this? How on Earth, can I go on now?…” Pain, opposition and trauma – both in biological evolution, and in the neural evolution of pathways in your mind – is the only thing that enables change. Stress is the fuel.

People without pain are like organisms stuck in evolution one billion years ago: They don’t move. They’re stagnant. They are yesterday’s news. And since they don’t change, they neither move closer to the future. Why would they change? Why would they desire change? They are completely satisfied with where they’re at.

Notice: I am not saying you need physical pain. It can be some abstract pain of not being where you know you have to be. It can be the pain of some problem or of a relationship. And it might be an even more abstract pain, of some emotion you don’t know how to interpret yet. But you need it – in order to be fueled for this journey.

However, bear in mind that pain, trauma or hardship in no way is a guarantee for growth and evolvement. It certainly is not. It is only a chance – albeit the only chance you will ever get. Pain is your handshake with infinite potential. It is an invitation to heaven. It is a challenge, by the Universe. She passes you the ball, and thus says “Hey, you in? Or out? You wanna play?”

Pain is an opportunity. It’s as if you emerge out of a lush forest, and now find yourself on a lonesome dusty road, with the option of either walking towards stagnation, powerlessness and eventual death, or else in the other way – towards life.

In your mind – the most powerful machine in the Universe – you possess the very same power of trial-and-error and of selection, that biological evolution contains. But in your mind, it is not cells and genes that are being selected. It is neural pathways. And you are the games master of this sport – this game of psychological selection that’s always going on inside of you, day and night. What neural pathways do you allow to grow, and which ones do you let perish? The moment of pain, is the moment you are faced with that choice.

So you take the challenge. You catch the ball, and smile towards the Universe: “Of course I’m in the game. Let’s play.”

And then you get moving. You start acting. You think over your situation. You cut away dead weight, and reprioritize what is most important. You offer yourself wholeheartedly and vulnerable to your life. You act. You build your philosophy and your formulas.

And then one day – it works. You suddenly get traction.

But at one point or another, your formula inevitably fails. What worked yesterday doesn’t work today. And then you simply find yourself at square one again. Trauma stares you in the face. The Universe has passed you yet another ball. Now you’ve got to throw yourself into the fray once more. For no formula is static and fixed. It can only exist as a relationship between your mind in this very moment, and the world of this very moment. As you change and as the world changes, the demands on a success-formula too – inevitably change.

If you choose to hide from any pain – or focus on the pain in the self defeating sense of “Poor me, I’m a victim. [of someone or something], the pain only grows worse and worse – until you die. What a waste. [1] Wallowing in the sea of self pity, is one way to squander the opportunity that pain gives you, and the other way is [2] hiding from the pain by overindulgence in either entertainment or some substance. [I am not preaching absolutism here, only abstaining from overindulgence – regarding virtually anything.]

So don’t squander the ball that the Universe is passing you. Seize it, and pick the correct direction on that road. Use – rather than abuse – your pain. Then it will be the best thing that ever happened to you.


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