How Your Pain Can Transform You
The Secret to Overcoming Obstacles: The Struggle is the Answer.
How your pain can transform you into the person your heart longs to be
For as long as I can remember I have wanted to be a great musician. When I was thirteen years old I remember the exact moment that I realized this. I was sitting on my bed, playing guitar and felt a deep, quiet voice within telling me that it was my purpose to inspire people with a message and to share that message through music. The experience felt like having a “vision” of a future that was destined to come true. The feeling was so strong, it seemed absolutely clear to me at that moment that this was my destiny… music was what I was meant to do.
The journey begins
Here’s the thing… I wasn’t naturally “gifted” at music. I was really good at a lot of things; I was great at math, science, English literature, learning languages – basically anything academic. In university I could memorize a textbook one or two nights before a final exam. I was good at sports and martial arts. I had a gift for artistic expression, but to be honest, I wasn’t born a natural musician; it was something that I had to learn. The reason I share this is because I think so many people miss out on their dreams because of self-doubt or because they have the erroneous belief that if they are not good at something right away, that it can’t be learned. Because of fear and conditioning, people often let go of their dreams or never allow themselves to even explore what their inner desires truly are.
I believe that we were all born with a purpose, with a dream in our heart. We are challenged when we often find ourselves in circumstances that present seemingly insurmountable obstacles blocking us from achieving our vision. The person we need to become in order to overcome our obstacles is almost always the person that we need to be in order to fulfill our dream.
Passion is the “willingness to suffer” (for a cause)
The word “Passion” actually comes from the Greek verb πασχω meaning “to suffer”. The hero’s journey is the story that unfolds when we are willing to “suffer” to follow the passion in our hearts. Most good intentioned people – from our parents to our teachers and friends will tell us to do what we are good at, do the sensible thing. We are conditioned to get a job and make money, pay the bills and live a comfortable life. For many, this is enough. For a few people this can even be happiness, but for me it wasn’t – there was something in my heart that knew if I didn’t follow my dream of being a musician, I would never be truly happy, I would never find peace within my soul.
Don’t give up
In my own life, I’ve struggled. I’ve struggled not only with the effort it took to develop my talents and become a great musician, but also with paying the bills and learning how to live a life balanced with material comforts and artistic success. In the midst of my struggle, I didn’t give up and I feel that I persevered. Since my early days of making ends meet I have toured in countries around the world, performed in front of 50,000 people, composed for Hollywood and created twelve albums of original music (including collaborations). People around all around the globe have heard my songs. If you didn’t know my back-story, you might think that everything came naturally or that things always flowed… the truth is that sometimes I faced incredible obstacles. I remember going to sleep so many nights with the deepest feeling of heartache and hopelessness – striving for a dream that felt impossible to achieve. I wanted to be a person that I didn’t know if I could ever truly become. I wondered why I was born with the deepest desire to achieve a dream, yet seeming without the ability to fulfill it?
I did have talent, but my talent was like a sleeping giant that needed to be awakened and the secret to awakening that talent was often brought on by pain and struggle – the kind of pain that leads to deep transformation.
The struggle IS the answer
The struggle is the answer to everything we need in our lives. Fulfilling a goal is less about achieving some end and more about who we become in the process of striving for it. I’m not saying that the journey is more important than the destination; they are both important. I am also not saying to give up on achieving goals, but rather to realize that the process and the end are intimately connected. The journey of who you must become in the process of following your heart’s desire is what really matters. It’s less about what you do and more about who you become! It’s about transformation. So the obstacle is the way. Our obstacles will transform us and shape us into who we must BE to achieve the aim that our hearts desire.
Choose your pain, or pain will choose you
What do I mean by this? The discipline of making positive and often difficult choices now can stave off future suffering that would have otherwise come from making negative choices now; choices that seem easier in the moment, but lead to long term suffering. For example, by choosing the pain of going to the gym, we prevent the pain of sickness or health issues in the future. One may choose to suffer the pain of lifting heavy weights to build the strength that will prevent frailty and ill health from choosing us in the future. By working hard now, we prevent poverty later. By saving, we create wealth. By disciplined practice now (which creates some “pain” in the moment), we may achieve greatness later. Almost anything worth achieving takes some sacrifice now. By choosing some small pain now, we avoid great pain later and may even attain some form of greatness.
Some pain in life is inevitable, it is how we choose to use it that makes the difference to the quality of our lives. Obstacles are our teachers. Our limitations can be the exact lessons that we need. They transform us when we learn to overcome them. Remember the Rocky movies? Why did so many people love them so much? I believe it is because we could relate to his hero’s journey. Rocky would train in the meat locker, punching frozen beef carcasses or in the freezing cold of Russia – the obstacles made him stronger and transformed him.
Caterpillar to butterfly
Avoiding pain can be the exact mistake that blocks us from reaching our full potential. Having things too easy, can make us weak, stop our growth and prevent transformation. When a caterpillar is in the cocoon, it struggles greatly and pushes its wings against the cocoon to eventually become free. It is this struggle that makes her wings strong enough to fly when she finally does become free. If we were to help the butterfly, by opening the cocoon for her, it would actually prevent her from ever being able to fly! Don’t do this to yourself – don’t run from obstacles, they are your opportunities for self-transformation.
Don’t take the short-cut, take the “long-cut”
Seth Godin, recently said on the Tim Ferris podcast that we are all looking for short cuts and “life hacks” and that he recommends taking the opposite approach – he recommends taking the “long cut”. I have seen time and again in my own study of music, meditation, martial arts and entrepreneurship, that while there may be more efficient ways of doing things, there is no substitute for the long and dedicated practice of self discipline and study – this practice transforms us over time. It is not a shallow or temporary transformation, but a true and deep re-creation of our selves; one that comes from the heart, not the mind. We become the person that our heart dreamed we could be.
The heart is the captain; the mind is the first mate
The mind is a tool that helps us make choices and navigate the world, but the heart should be the inner compass that tells us where we want to navigate to, what kind of life we want to create and what kind of person we want to be.
So the next time you feel deeply frustrated by circumstance or by obstacles, ask yourself, “what does my heart really want?” and “how can I turn this obstacle into a practice of deep self transformation”? Who do I really want to BE in this life? The doing and having will follow the being. Don’t give up, listen to the quiet voice in your heart and know that: the struggle is the answer, the obstacle is the way.
Dream big ~Prosad
QUOTES OF THE WEEK:
“Adults are always asking kids what they want to be when they grow up ‘cause they’re looking for ideas.” ~ Paula Poundstone
“If you want to find water underground, it’s best not to dig a hundred wells one foot deep, rather dig one well a hundred feet deep.” ~ Prosad