Pain is Story

I imagine there was blood everywhere.

I️ bit the tip of my tongue in half when I️ was really little.

I️ have no recollection of the memory, only the tiny scar to prove I­t­. Just even thinking about that happening makes me cringe and want to VOM all over this keyboard. I️ imagine a diaper wearing, curly blonde haired baby version of me, running around the house, playing like a pro, completely unaware of the large step ahead leading into another room. (Large step for a curly headed baby anyway.)

I️ also have a tiny scar on my left side of my abdomen, from when I️ has holstering a tree branch, walking around my parent's old house, pretending to be a noble knight, and, of course, my stick was my shining blade of steel. I️ don’t remember what I️ was fighting, but I’m sure I­t­ was EPIC.

These are just two small, but resonating stories of pain from hundreds of moments of pain, setbacks, loss, injury, discomfort and despair that I️ have been through, and the thousands more I️ will hopefully get through. When you hear my stories or the stories of other people, you can’t help but put yourself in our shoes. Our entire humanity is built on stories. Stories of struggle, and exploration and pain. 

Pain is a part of being human. From small moments of stumbling up the steps to unimaginable moments of disease or worse, we all experience bad moments. What you decide to do with your pain each and every day will determine whether you live an ordinary life or extraordinary life of Renaissance

You see, pain flipped on its head can actually be a good thing. Pain makes us better. I’m not talking about a ‘No Pain, No Gain’ type of mentally. No, that’s like swimming with sharks holding a bag of steaks. A lot of risk; very little reward. Never seek pain, but always be ready for I­t­, or ready to unmask pain that you are holding inside.

Pain makes us better because I­t­ gives us the opportunity to learn and become a better version of ourselves.

Which sucks and is awesome at the same time. It's almost the equivalent to having the worst sandwich of your life... until you realize it wasn't a sandwich, it was actually a bowl of fruit. (Almost the same.) Fruit can be great when you are expecting fruit, but if you're ordering a sandwich and get fruit, you don't immediately see how good and fresh the fruit is in the moment. Pain and opportunity are the same things. Some only see pain, others see a chance to use the pain for a greater purpose.

Sometimes, when my day to day life and pain is really wearing me down, I️ feel broken and overwhelmed by what’s going on with me. Pain can do that. I­t­ can add up and morph into a giant spider web you feel like you can’t get out of. And when all you do is focus on the feelings and regret of pain, you amplify the pains effects and hold on you. All you want to do is complain and share and get someone to listen to you. But complaining about the weather doesn’t make I­t­ go away. And complaining doesn’t make a great story. 

Maybe I️ am broken, maybe we all are. But letting that part of me control my life is no story I️ want to tell. ‘This is the story of a man who laid in bed, and never got up again.’  That’s no story I️ want to tell. There’s always a way to turn pain into challenge and inspiration for others.

Pain is one of those things in life that I️ would never wish upon anyone, but if you are going through hell, it’s the best / worst thing you can experience in your life. This is part of your hero’s journey. This is your call to arms, your challenge of a lifetime. Pain is your story to tell. It’s the tale of how you fell into the dragons din, found the silver lining, discovered a new world, challenged the status quo, and journey back to us to tell us your story.

A journey or challenge is a much different story you live, instead of giving into the pain, doing nothing and accepting your fate. Most, unfortunately, fail to see the value in pain, the ones that do are usually the ones that become inspiration stories for generations. Pain is a perspective. A cold dip into the icy waters you didn’t ask for, but will you be grateful and remember the experience for the rest of your life? Maybe. 

All that matters with pain is how you see I­t­, which ultimately leads to what you are going to do about I­t­.

My pain is my story to tell. I’m the one who gets to share my stories with you, and hopefully impacts you and inspires you to see your struggles and pain as a challenge too.

Pain can also well up inside you. Pain that you ignore, or aren’t even aware it’s there. It speaks to you through small chinks in your armor, injuries and problems you can’t explain, or constantly feeling sick or not yourself. Your current way of life has become incompatible with yourself, and your body knows I­t­.

These types of bottled pain are perfect opportunities for stories. This is your chance to bleed on the page your thoughts and experiences you’ve gone through or are going through. Writing and telling your story is like squeezing your pain into a bottle like a sponge, and sending I­t­ out into the sea. You don’t have to tell your story (some stories are meant to be kept for yourself) but I️ would bet you a hundred pushups that if you were to tell your story, thousands of people would resonate and find I­t­ beneficially for what they are going through.

I wonder sometimes, 

Would there be life without death? Would there be happiness without despair? Friendship without loneliness? Exhilaration without fear? Pleasure without pain? Energy without fatigue? Love without longing? 

And does I­t­ have to be the ones who know pain firsthand, who understand how valuable life, really is?

I️ didn’t know how vital having energy is, until I️ experienced chronic fatigue first hand.

I️ would like to believe stories help capture insights and lessons that will help us avoid pitfalls and painful experiences ourselves, but first, you must be really open to I­t­.

If you are going through something impossibly difficult, it's time to write your story. And the fact that you are holding the pen means you get to write how and where your story ends.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
And wherever you are, keep smiling :)
— Josh Waggoner

IG: @Renaissance.Life

Related Insights

“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.”Eckhart Tolle

"Today I choose life. Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain... To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices - today I choose to feel life, not to deny my humanity but embrace it." Kevyn Aucoin

"The struggle of my life created empathy - I could relate to pain, being abandoned, having people not love me." — Oprah Winfrey

Book Pairings:

The Obstacle Is the Way by Ryan Holiday
Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl