The Benefit of Suffering

 

The Benefit of Suffering – Jon

“He who knows how to suffer everything, can dare everything”.

LUC DE CLAPIERS, MARQUIS DE VAUVENARGUES, Reflections and Maxims

 

There are many forms of suffering. Some tragic from loss of loves ones, jobs, natural disasters or overall well-being.  Even though good often emerges from these events, this is not the suffering I am talking about.

The type of suffering I am referring to is when you feel temporary pain and challenge in order to reach new heights.

Many of us never experience pushing ourselves to the point of true “suffering”. We do what is required in our occupations, during our workouts, and in our relationships.  There are times when we push ourselves, maybe we get uncomfortable, heck we may even sweat or feel sore.  However, there are very few that experience that feeling of total exhaustion, prolonged periods of being uncomfortable and experiencing challenge beyond what is expected.

It is interesting that synonyms listed in Webster’s dictionary for the word suffer are: Endure, Undergo, and Experience to name a few. To me, these words usually lead to change.

We are all striving to change, get better and improve.  In my experience, my greatest achievements and growth have come from periods of suffering. It forced me to look deep inside to see what I was made of and where my breaking point was. Often I found that I could tolerate much more both physically and mentally. I could be more creative, innovative and adaptive than I ever imagined. For example, in the military there were many times that I experienced challenging situations both physical and mental that initially felt un-endurable. I suffered through freezing cold, sleep deprivation, physical exhaustion and many mental challenges that often made me want to give up. I was able to get through them by utilizing my training, the support of my teammates, and breaking down to the challenges to simple one-thing-at-a-time tasks. I also learned to embrace three phrases:

  1. “Suck it up”,
  2. “Pain is only temporary”
  3. “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable”.

Telling myself this over and over was my mental trigger to get over the pain and focus on the task on hand. Ultimately, the times I had to endure periods of suffering made me the person I am today. I have learned to embrace those things that make life difficult. I’ve become more creative, disciplined, determined and in the end, more successful.

The next time you are exposed to suffering (whether self-imposed or otherwise), I encourage you to embrace it, break it down to manageable tasks and find the internal strength that comes from it.

 

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