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Pain: Progress And Depth

No one likes pain. But if you can at least find a way to appreciate it, you’re adding meaning to your pain, and meaning makes pain more tolerable. Not to mention, it also genuinely is a good thing.

Most things are both good and bad; both the truth in some scenarios and false in others. Even if there’s only 1% of a specific painful problem that is good and leads to progress, that’s 1%.

To not look at that 1% is not seeing reality in its whole (Which is a good desire and “mind goal” to have).


Burn the boats! That’s the order Hernán Cortés gave in 1519 so him and his men had no option but to succeed. Cliché, but a powerful principle and lesson from history that still applies today.

In my experience, personally and from what I’ve seen, people in 99.99% of circumstances will only change because of pain. No matter how disciplined, conscious, intelligent or focused you think you are, pain is such a necessary and probably the most important ingredient for your monkey brain to agree to change.

When I feel stressed, or pain, I try to remember that this is an energy I can take to break the “mould” of who I am.

Force is needed to break through the mould

James Corneille

A quote I came up with a year or two ago that sticks in my mind, and in my eyes that force is often pain.

This doesn’t mean that pain is fortunate or something you should (Always) hope for, it means there’s more to the pain than what most people give it credit for. There’s progress, and last of all (For this article), there’s depth.


As much as we all love progress (We are goal-striving machines after all), the mental capacity for more depth is one of my favourite things about lesser preferred circumstances (Who says pain is bad anyway? To hate and shy away from pain is to hate and shy away from a huge part of life.. the experience).

Having the belief that “All experience is good”, and valuing “Experience” as.. a value.. is where this part comes from.

Your capacity for pain (Along with stress, anxiety, etc), as it increases, increases your capacity for everything else. Happiness, gratefulness, joy, peace.

Our brains often work as comparison machines. Without light from the sun and daytime, we would not know what night time was if that was the norm. It’s a cliché as many great ideas are, so try to look past that and bare with me.

Let’s create what I call a visual metaphor.

Imagine just a loading bar without the loading part in your mind that represents your capacity for negative emotions on the left and positive emotions on the right. Both sides, the left (Negative) and to the right (Positive) will start at 2 meters long each.

Every time you feel something negative whether once-off or if it lasts a week, a month, a year, etc, I typically imagine the bar to the left, the negative side of the bar, grow out further to the left. So now the left side is 4 meters, and the right side is only 2m because you felt that pain.

However, because the left “negative” side of the bar grew 2m, the right side also grew 2m but you haven’t noticed it just yet. I would theorise most people don’t realise this, but it’s absolutely true.

When either side grows, the other side mirrors that growth.

The mind works as a comparison machine. We make meaning from the opposite of the thing we’re making meaning of by comparing the two together. We only know what darkness is, when we know what darkness is not. We only know what pain is because we once felt happiness to compare it to.

In one sentence, you’ve become more sensitive to negative emotion because you’ve felt a lot of negative emotion.

But the brain/life doesn’t work just like that. What actually happened was you’ve become more sensitive to negative emotion because you’ve felt a lot of negative emotion.

Your emotional sensitivity regardless of bad or good (As interpreted by you and you alone) has been upgraded.

This is one of the greatest gifts I can think of second to life itself. It makes you more conscious, aware and emotionally intelligent. It gives you a superpower to experience more of life, and that’s at least one of the reasons why we’re all here, to experience and to be able to experience more of said experience is a gift.

Pain is, well, painful. Sometimes knowing the progress and depth rewards make it easier, and often it doesn’t. It may very well be more useful when the pain stops, and then, you can use these insights to propel yourself forward and make those lows in the valley shorter and shorter each time.

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