Thursday, 6 October 2011

Pushing through the pain barrier

A stiff upper lip
Pain is something we’ve been programmed to avoid. We’ll do anything to not feel pain. But from a pain in the neck to the pain in our backside – pains are recurring.
Life is pain. People are the cause of many of our pains. If only pain could stay firmly on the plain!
Pain travels – through our minds and then through our bodies until it takes up full residence. The bravest among us push themselves to the limit and that kind of pain can be a gain.
Working out in the gym to be well toned; slaving over a hot stove to perfect that dish; stuffing your head full of facts and figures to pass exams; bearing up under pressure – it’s all painful.
Some of us a have a low threshold of pain and some of us can be pushed beyond tolerable limits. Women are known to be able to bear a lot of physical and emotional pain.
If we had any sense we’d make pain our friend. This is something that has been with us since the dawn of civilization. We’re no stranger to it and yet we break into a sweat whenever it gets near.
Someone who has pushed through the pain barrier – instead of coming to an abrupt stop in front of it is - the explorer – Aron Ralston. Though you might not know his name you’ll know his story. He was the subject of the film – “127 hours” which was a harrowing depiction of his attempts to free himself from a half ton boulder that had trapped his right arm. 
Naturally, the pain he endured was searing and, after, 127 hours alone in the Utah desert he did the only thing possible to save his life and that was to cut off his arm. I squirmed when I first read this and I lovingly stroked my arms feeling blessed that I had had never to face such a dilemma.
The stomach churning process was carried out by first using his body weight to snap the bone and then using a pen knife he sliced his flesh until he was free…..leaving his arm lifeless under the boulder.
This is a man of true grit and he describes the moment of amputation as “the greatest joy and happiness ever felt”. Minus his arm, he remains stoic about his experience:”I don’t regret losing my arm. I know what’s important and what I’m capable of.”
Ralston  made a successful crossing through his fear zone. Fearlessness has now transcended into joy. He lives in the place where there are no fears and would that we could too.
It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are
Pain strips away the layers of ego. When you’re in pain you’re as humble as a beggar. In pain, you reach out for relief and solace. When you have someone to share your pain with you don’t really confront it. In fact, you often over-burden others with your pain and it multiplies – for you.
A shot of courage
Ralston took a pragmatic approach and finding the root of his pain…cut it off. That’s what you have to do. Find the root cause of your pain and destroy it. It’s not enough to face your fears; you have to choke the life right out of them. Pain helps you do that. When you accumulate too many pains you’ll wrestle with them and then kick them in the butt.
Courage will come to your rescue in your darkest hour just as it did to Ralston.

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