Physical and emotional pain is not pleasant.

Whether it’s you, a family member or friend going through a painful period, it is difficult to endure. You wish you could take your or their pain away and wake up and poof, it’s all gone like magic. But unfortunately, neither happens much.

None of this sounds positive so bear with me.

Most of us are either glass half empty or glass half full people. Some see the positive and some see the negative.  I was a glass half empty dude until I became a personal trainer.  Because who wants to be around someone who says you can’t.  

That wouldn’t get me many clients.

Trainers should be upbeat and positive to encourage and motivate their clients. To provide an atmosphere where change for the better is possible. Being a trainer has helped me become more of a glass half full person while not trying to see the negative in each situation.

But does this mean I’m always a bright ray of sunshine? No, the difficulties of life get me down like everyone else. However, I try to focus on the positives while acknowledging the negatives.

And when I’m coaching while having a bad day, I will put on a positive face because my clients are paying for my time. Think of it like yin and yang, the positive balancing out the negative.

In my 51 years of experience there are positives that can come from pain. If your opinion is different, I would love to hear about it here.

Let’s dive in.

Pain As A Warning

Like touching a hot stove, you quickly flinch and take your hand away. Physical pain acts as a warning. If you keep doing this, you’re going to get hurt. Now you might not see this as positive but consider the people who DON” T feel pain.

Congenital insensitivity to pain and anhydrosis (CIPA) is a rare hereditary disease that causes affected people to be unable to feel pain and unable to sweat. So even though they don’t feel a thing (which seems like a good thing) damage is happening. And that’s not a good thing.  

Pain acts as a warning during exercise too. Now, not all pain is bad during exercise, especially if you’re coming back from an injury, surgery etc.

Some pain happens during exercise, and it depends on your pain tolerance. If it feels like a two out of 10 pain and if it doesn’t get any worse, then it’s okay to continue if tolerated. But if it gets to the four-seven stage and keeps getting worse, then it’s obviously time to stop.

Sometimes pain is part of the healing process.

Pain also lets you know if an exercise is a good or bad fit. For example, I loved to sumo deadlift, but it chewed up my hips and kept hurting my back. The switch to the trap bar deadlift allowed me to keep doing what I like without the pain. Because not all exercises work for all people because we’re all put together differently.

This is when it pays to listen to pain because it’s sending you a message.

Pain Helps You Grow

If you’ve been going to the gym for a bit, you have probably heard the term “No Pain, No Gain.” Not one of my favorites but there is a little truth in it. Whether people have a certain goal like losing fat, building muscle, or improving performance, you must travel outside your comfort zone. And sacrifices must be made.

This involves pushing yourself in your training and or going without food to meet your goal and for some this is painful. The pain of feeling the burn or waking up sore and tired the next day. Or the pain of going without your favorite food to fit into your stylish pants.

Get my drift?  

Yes, this pain is temporary, but it’s pain all the same and if you can handle it, there’s growth on the other side. Hopefully the growth that looks good in the mirror. 😊

Pain Helps Emotional Growth

Emotional pain is a difficult one.

Some people bury it.

Some numb it with drugs and booze.

Others curl up into a ball or suffer the sting of mental illness. Most of us deal with it in different ways, some of it good and some of it bad. Either way it’s individual and I’ll be coming at this from a personal point-of view.

This is NOT to make light of any one’s pain, far from it because that’s not my intention. Hopefully if you’re going through a difficult time, you can take something from this and know there is light (however faint) on the other side.

My mother and three siblings are my only surviving relatives. Early in the 90’s my brother developed bi-polar disorder and has attempted to take his life on multiple occasions. My youngest sister has survived several traumas that have left their mental scars. I have had clients die and almost two years ago my friend committed suicide unexpectedly.

Like a lot of you reading, I’ve dealt with my fair share of emotional pain.

Did I handle all this well? Hell no. I either buried it, numbed it, or denied it and this turned me into a white-hot fire of burning rage. All I needed was a match for the inferno to start. And it did on several occasions.

Then I realized I had a problem and holding all this inside didn’t do me or the others around me any good.

How I Turned This Into A Positive

My past was affecting my future.

This had nothing to do with my wife and kids, but it was affecting them all the same. So, I made the difficult decision to go to therapy. Being a man (last time I checked) I’m not a fan of talking about my feelings. And definitely not a fan of dredging up the past.  

But talking to a qualified therapist helped me deal with my issues and my therapist called me out on my false narratives. My therapist redirected me to be a more empathetic, positive human being and  gave me the tools to deal with life’s ups and downs.

Talking through my emotional pain has helped me to become a better person. Was it easy? No. Taking a good hard look at your ugly side never is. But it’s worth it.

If you’re going through a difficult time and wondering if therapy is a good fit, read this. Because holding it inside (in my opinion) will never get the job done.

Wrapping Up

When going through pain, it’s hard to see any positives. But there can be if you listen to the messages your body or what others are telling you. And if you’re willing to do the work required, there is growth on the other side.

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