A human being, no matter their nationality, income level, gender or religion will experience pain. Pain, along with death and taxes, is a fact of life.
We’ve crafted meticulous stories and philosophies to help us deal with death. When someone close to us passes away, we hang on to these narratives to help us cope with the immense sense of loss and unexplainable grief.
Taxes are also something we must deal with daily in life. To depart from our money is painful; it sucks.
The sense of loss, the sense of feeling robbed, along with knowing there is nothing you can do about it, is a terrible feeling, but it's one we have become used to.
And, yet, we do not have within ourselves the sophisticated coping mechanisms necessary to deal with pain.
Whether the pain is emotional or physical, we must have a way to understand, work through and, ultimately, embrace it.
We learn how to cope with death from religion and our parents. We learn how to deal with taxes from society and our accountants.
So, then, how can we learn how to deal with pain?
There is one group of people whose job it is to deal with pain: the Navy Seals. As part of their training, Seals must go through something known as Hell Week.
Yes, it’s far worse than what it sounds like. More than building physical strength, Hell Week builds mental strength.
Here is a glimpse of basic Navy Seal training and Hell Week:
So what sets apart the recruits that make it through, and the recruits that don’t?
Don’t let fear enter your mind.
When there is a snake in our precious garden, we must pick up a weapon and kill it. We must find a way to drive it out.
But, the question is, if we were doing our jobs, how did the snake even end up in the garden?
To keep out snakes and other unruly creatures, a gardener may build a fence around his garden. Where is your fence? Why are you allowing any and every thought to enter your mind without a second thought?
The greatest danger to our human condition is our thoughts. Every day, we are bombarded by messages -- some good, some bad -- all designed to make us do things we may not want to do.
People and things are all vying for a chance to enter our minds and make a dent in our thinking.
A gardener knows exactly what is good to have in his garden. He knows which kinds of plants he wants, which kind of fertilizer is good and so on.
You must decide what you want to store in your mind. Personally, I want to store tales of success, of strong men and women who have accomplished amazing things.
I want to store motivational quotes and teachings that will help me perform well in life. I also want to store good memories of my childhood, my friends, my family, my successes, my experiences, etc.
I want to store anecdotes that will make me smile and make me say, “Yes, that was a great moment in my life. “
Understand your present reality.
Building up a wall to protect yourself from negative thinking does not mean you completely avoid what is in front of you and go into your “happy place” when things go south.
Life does throw curveballs, and bad stuff does happen. Embracing the pain starts with taking an account of the situation you are in right now.
When a Navy Seal is in a tight situation, he must first keep his mind clear.
That wall he put up allows him to keep fear and any thoughts of quitting at bay. It allows him to make logical steps to accomplish his mission.
During Hell Week, a soldier has one goal: finish by any means necessary. That singular mindset is what drives every action the Seal makes. It is what allows a soldier to keep moving forward even when, physically, he is broken.
When a gardener faces a setback, despite putting up a fence and using the right fertilizer, he must be able to assess the situation and remedy the problem.
It’s supposed to be hard.
At the end of pain is victory. On the other side of agony is strength.
When you burn and fail, you make way for the opportunity to build a better you.
When life gets really bad, perhaps, even unbearable, it’s important to keep your eye on a vision larger than yourself. Many people are unable to see past their present condition, making the problem they are facing much bigger than it may be.
If you have a clear vision of where you want to end up, you will learn to see your present state, no matter how painful it may be, as just another blot in the grand scheme of things.
Navy Seals understand that at the end of Hell Week, a new man will emerge: stronger, faster, smarter. He has a clear vision of what that man will look like.
Developing this vision is not easy. In fact, the attrition rate for the Seals training program is as high as 70 percent. This means only about 30 percent of people successfully make it through to becoming Navy Seals.
I would say a similar figure is true for the rest of the world. Only about 20 to 30 percent of us are able to understand pain and its importance in our lives.
Only a small percentage of us have the proper coping mechanisms in place to be able to deal with the curve balls life throws at us.
If you have a problem with pain, it is time you understand why it’s a good thing in your life.
Embrace the present moment. Embrace good thoughts and positive emotions. Embrace the pain.