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Growth is tough. There, I said it.

You might be able to relate, as we are already approaching the end of spring and are nearly halfway through 2016 already. One of the areas that I am reminded of is how we as humans grow and heal. And when I look at it from a clinical perspective, healing follow a nice, predictable path. “This happens, then this, then that.” But when it comes to focusing on our own businesses, our own relationships and our own lives, maturing can seem like the hardest and most unpredictable thing! Again, you might be able to relate.

The crazy thing about growth is that struggle. When we take a step back and look at it from a detached view, the struggle is always a critical piece of the puzzle. The difference is when we have to deal with it, it becomes the most unfair thing in the world. But here’s the thing about the struggle to grow; it does not mean that something is wrong.

Let me say it another way: pain has a purpose. You might have heard something like this before, but hear me out. Pain, by itself, doesn’t mean that something is wrong. Let’s look at how our body works; when something happens to our outsides that requires attention (like a stubbed toe, a burned hand or an upset stomach), it is typical for us to feel pain. The trick in understanding that pain, is knowing what it is trying to tell you. In each instance, yes, something is wrong. But the pain doesn’t tell us what is wrong (is that upset stomach the burrito you ate this morning or the ice cream you snuck at midnight last night?) – it just tells us to pay attention. A great example of pain that does not signal a problem is the pain every mother will feel at some point in her life – the pain of childbirth. For many women, this is one of the most painful experiences of their lives, and yet not one of us will stand up and claim that there is anything inherently wrong in this moment. In fact, many will marvel at the miracle of life taking place at that time! And yet, this miracle brings with it pain in abundance.

So if pain doesn’t indicate the problem, what does it mean? Try this on for size: pain means pay attention. When it is a stubbed toe – pay attention to where you’re walking, pay attention to the healing process taking place after the injury. When it is a burned hand – pay attention to what you’re touching, pay attention to the healing skin that will be extra delicate for a few days. When it is a stomach ache – pay attention to what and when you’re eating, pay attention to what you’re doing to your body. When it is the miracle of birth – pay attention to this moment because your life will never be the same again.

When it comes to the struggle, pain doesn’t mean there is something wrong with the process. Pain means pay attention to each step, each choice, each change as you will have the chance to never be the same again. Growth means that something comes out not only stronger, but better. If it hurts, it is important.

 

Pain always has a purpose, and when we focus on growth as the purpose, pain always precedes joy.

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