Everyone wants to grow. No one wants to go backward, stagnate, settle. It may happen, but not because we want that.
Then why do some people grow more than others? Is it just pure ability, genetics, environment? Maybe. It’s hard to say. But, for me, there is one characteristic that stands out more than others.
Those who progress more can withstand more pain. That’s it.
Because progress doesn’t happen without pain. No matter what field, job, or goal. If you want to grow, it will require pain. There’s no way around it.
It might be emotional, physical, mental, spiritual. Whatever form pain takes, it will take you. Pain is the price of progress. And it will have its pound of flesh. Sometimes literally.
For example, when I started writing these blog posts it was extremely painful to me. I never thought I would be willing to spill out my failures and other tender points in my life and publish them on the web—forever—for everyone. I hated (and still do to some extent) being vulnerable and opening myself up to the world like this. There is still a large part of me that would like to stop writing like this and protect any remaining comfort I still have. But I fight myself, one word at a time, trying to be transparent and open so that I can be a blessing to you, Dear Reader. Pain was, and is, the price.
Getting healthy always requires pain. Almost ten years ago, when I started my journey to get back to a healthy lifestyle, I cut my meal portions by fifty percent for every meal. My overweight body started shrinking, but I was hungry for three months straight until my stomach shrank to the point I became accustomed to my fifty percent portions. When I started running again, a few years ago, it was a whole new world of agony. I hated myself for taking each stride. I wanted to die. My lungs were on fire, my legs like jello, my mind was cursing at me. But now, in my forties, I’m the most fit in my life. But the whole process was pretty much a hurt locker.
And as you go through the pain, after a while, the progress can surprise you.
Writing has gotten easier for me. I write at least a thousand words a day. Although putting myself out there and spilling my guts still isn’t easy, it has become familiar and less difficult. My thinking has even become clearer, and the stringing ideas together has become more natural. I even find reading books that I used to consider difficult are now somehow easier to understand. I’ve become a better thinker and communicator.
Living a healthier lifestyle has made me feel great. It was a long, arduous road. But I now feel better than I ever have.
I know that most of you know this to one degree or another. I’m not telling you this to inform you.
I’m telling you this to inspire you.
Sometimes we just need to know that we are not alone in the pain and that someone else has done this. The solidarity helps us believe that we can progress, too, even in the face of pain.
And you can.