How I Push Through Pain
Pain. We all go through it, whether it is physical, mental, or emotional. It is the aspect of life that can either make you or break you depending on how you let it affect you. Some of our greatest accomplishments and achievements in life come out of a place of excruciating pain. Pain can control your life if you let it, but if you learn to harness it, you can use it to your advantage.
This year has been particularly hard for me, especially as of late. When I was younger a year like this would have destroyed me. I would have spun out of control and into a deep depression that would have been tough to get out of. As I have gotten older and wiser though, I have learned how to manage my emotions to external events a lot better in my life. I have used several tools over the years to help keep my head down during my tough times to continue to grow and end up stronger on the other side of suffering. Simply put, I have learned how to push through pain. Here are some of the tools that have helped me during some of my tough times- I hope they can help you when you are struggling with difficulties in your life.
Your environment can make or break your success. It is conducive toward growth or destruction during good and bad times. Motivation, inspiration, and desire are all fleeting so setting up your environment with things that encourage these is tremendously helpful. My apartment is surrounded with paintings I have made, photographs I have taken, and pictures of the family and friends that mean the most to me in my life. This creates an environment that always keeps me motivated and driven because it gives me the reassurance everyday that my life is about creating and working hard for people other than myself. I buy books and keep them all around the house so that I am constantly reading and making myself better every day. I do not keep junk food in the house because the temptation to pig out and eat everything in sight would be too great (I am a foodie when I want to be). Have the self-awareness to know the things that motivate and inspire you and surround yourself with those things every single day.
We are a sum of tons of small habits that make up our everyday lives, both good and bad. The key in life is to replace disempowering habits with empowering habits. Habits help tremendously during times of pain. They are the equivalent of putting your mind and body into “autopilot” and just getting through things, sometimes without even realizing it. One habit can also trigger many other habits that can be beneficial. For example, the habit of exercising in the morning can lead to making smarter and healthier eating choices throughout the day. If you want an excellent resource on understanding habits and how they can change your life I highly recommend “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg.
Health and Exercise
Exercise is an excellent place to start when you are looking to displace pain. You can exert your energy, thoughts, and feelings in the form of exercise and it can help you push through the pain. The endorphins you get from working out can help make you feel better and fight off negative feelings as well. Exercising also leads to making healthier food choices which will provide you with more energy and will make you feel better. The combination of health and exercise can give you the power and energy to realize that you are a bad ass and you can power your way through anything that life throws at you.
Getting out in nature is one of the greatest places you can go to deal with pain. The quiet surroundings can give you a place to listen to your thoughts and learn how to deal with them. We are so connected to our everyday lives through phones, social media, and e-mail that nature provides solace in disconnecting from these everyday stressors. If you never provide yourself with a space to address your thoughts and feelings, then you will constantly be hiding from them and never address any of the issues that are causing you pain. Hiking also provides the added benefit of exercise and feel good endorphins that will help keep you in a positive mood as well.
Adjust Your Expectations and Reframe Your Perspective
Life very seldom goes the way that we picture it in our minds. We all have expectations in our lives for things to end up a certain way and when they do not we are let down and it can throw us in a state of depression and sadness. Sometimes the things that you wanted to happen can be the best things that never happened. When you learn to adjust your expectations to the aspects of your life that you cannot control your whole world changes. Learn to let go of the things in your life that did not go exactly as you planned and embrace the new path laid out before you. Be happy for the experiences you have been able to create and let go of what could have or should have been in your mind, your happiness will follow suit.
Friends and Family
I have always been blessed with keeping the most amazing people in my life. My friends and family are the absolute best on this earth and I would not have gotten through the most difficult times in my life without them. Friends and family can be biased so you do need to be mindful of that (which is why therapy can be good), but they can be your biggest advocates and idea generators during your times of pain. Surround yourself with them during your tough times, talk through your issues, and be grateful to have them in your life. They will be one of the greatest support systems through your pain that you can ever imagine.
Giving back is one of the best things you can do on this planet. The feeling that you get from giving back is hard to replicate anywhere else. When you can get outside of your own pain and see that others can be going through things that are 10 times worse than your situation, you can be grateful for what you are going through. Every time I go through struggles I love to give back to children’s hospitals through artwork. When I walk into the hospital and immediately see children and families going through treatments and dealing with the pains of life that I can only imagine, this always snaps me right back into reality to realize truly how blessed and fortunate I am.
Attitude of Gratitude
No matter how bad things get for you, you always have something that you can be grateful for. I say grace every single day because just living one more day on this earth is a blessing. Be grateful for the people in your life, the beautiful mind you have been blessed with, having a roof over your head, and even the problems that you have been blessed to deal with. This life is absolutely beautiful, and it is what you make of it. Realize truly how blessed you are and be grateful for the life you live, the bad times never last, but the good memories always will, and they can help push you through the tough times.
Reading and Writing
My therapist used to always say that in life you are growing, or you are shrinking. The easiest thing to do during difficult times is to shrink. Continue to expand and grow your mind and knowledge during your difficult times. There is always a book you can read in which someone has dealt with the issue you are going through. Gain the knowledge on how to deal with your pain so you can harness it in the future and you can help others during their hard times as well. Writing can help you get your thoughts and feelings out on paper and has the added benefit of allowing you to look back on your pain later on down the road. This can help you better deal with it in the future when it comes up again.
As I mentioned before, motivation is fleeting. Motivational videos are everywhere on YouTube and some of the most successful people on this earth have shared their pain on how they pushed through it to get where they are in life. Use this free knowledge to better address your issues and pull yourself out of your pain and suffering. Who knows, one day you may even be able to make a motivational video that can help someone else that is going through the same issues.
Art has always been a form of therapy for me. Whether it is writing, painting, drawing, or doing photography, art always has a way of bringing me to a place that no where else can. Some of my greatest artwork has been produced from my greatest pain. Art is a wonderful release and it can help soothe your pain like nothing else can. Do not be afraid to try art just because you may think you are not good at it. I didn’t start drawing until I was 20 years old and I did it because I was bored. I started painting at 21 without any previous experience because it looked cool. I did not start photography until I was 30 years old with no previous knowledge of it as well. Push yourself to find an artistic outlet for yourself and you will be forever grateful of the healing effects of art.
There is a reason I put this last. I did not start therapy until I was 27. Up until that point I suffered through anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts for the 10 years prior. I took anti-depressants to help me get through my tough times, but I never addressed any of the issues that were actually ailing me. Going to therapy was single handedly the best decision I ever made because it helped me to address the issues that I had been dealing with through all those years of pain and suffering and it gave me the tools to deal with pain going forward. We all have deep seeded issues that we have not addressed in our lives. Do not let them control your life now or in the future- go address them and see how your life changes as a result.
These are some of the tools that I have implemented in my life to overcome pain when I am going through it. They are not perfect and believe me, even if you know how to deal with pain, it can still get the better of you some days. I have struggled more recently than I ever have with it, but I know that if I stay true the pain will not get the better of me or last forever.
All these tools in dealing with pain tie back to the most important piece in all of this- the most valuable asset that you have on this earth is TIME. You cannot buy it, get it back, or create more of it. Once it is gone, it is gone for good. If you sit and wallow in your pain and suffering, then all you are doing is stealing the precious commodity of time from your life. We all go through shit and life is not fair to any of us. I have had my fair share of ups and downs in life and the one thing that has helped me through all of it is that our experiences are what build our character, perspective, and love or hate of life. I am always grateful that things have happened in my life, even if they are not ideal, and instead of looking at the loss of something, I have looked at what I have gained from every situation in my life. Take control of your life and learn to push through your pain and suffering. I do not want to see anyone suffer in life, but at the very least, hopefully some of my insights can help you push through your pain, as I have learned how to push through mine.