…if you are not in pain, you should be worried. You should be frantic out of your mind with concern because there’s a strong likelihood you’re not growing.
I quit worrying, which doesn’t necessarily mean I don’t get overwhelmed. When asked how I’m doing, I usually say ‘fine’ or ‘okay,’ even when I don’t feel “fine” or “okay.”
“You’re always fine and okay, even when you’re not,” a friend once said to me, lol.
What’s the point of saying this? I came to understand that another constant thing in life is pain (not literal). There will always be pain. In fact, if you are not in pain, you should be worried. You should be frantic out of your mind with concern because there’s a strong likelihood you’re not growing. You may appear to be better than your neighbor (how most people evaluate success), but you are not better than you were yesterday (which is how I think growth should be measured).
Pain is a tool that awakens us to what is awry, which is why it is a prelude to our development. When we experience pain, we know something is wrong, and when we know something is wrong, we solve what we believe is wrong, and when we resolve what we believe is wrong, we become better at handling difficulties, and when we grow better at this, we become wiser.
I spent a substantial chunk of my life responding to difficulties in an inappropriate way. The majority of us do. I still do on occasion. You’ve heard the phrase “old habits die hard.” When we are confronted with pain, we are usually frightened, and our instinct is to escape, devise a coping mechanism, a system that allows us to be comfortable and live with the suffering. Medications, booze, whining, criticizing others, spending (to escape), social media, food addiction, social validations, sobbing, and so on are all things we do in contrast to facing the problem. Then we recognize that we can’t get away from our challenges. We come to a point of exhaustion where we know we have no option but to fix the issues. We’re scared to death, completely terrified, unable to deal with the challenges that are ramping up next to us.
This is where we begin to have confidence in something beyond ourselves—God, religion, love, and so on. Most of the time, what encourages us is the knowledge that the people we care about have unwavering faith in us. This is why some people succeed after finding a mate-their spouse’s unshakable belief in their potential energizes them. You might well be helpless, but if you believe in something else, you will take power from that element, and you will recognize that you are stronger than you previously imagined. As time passes, your strength grows, and you discover that you are becoming increasingly adept at problem-solving. This is progress!
I’m not implying that pain is required for growth in all cases. At least theoretically, it is possible to grow without pain. It is not the pain that is required for growth, it is the capability to work, solve the problems that arise, and cope with the tension. If you want to develop in any aspect of your life, true development, you may have to appreciate pain and discomfort, and this goes against everything we’ve been taught as Africans. Hmmm, the plethora of misrepresentations that African children are subjected to… (story for another day)
PS- Take this with a pinch of salt.