This quote by Jerry Seinfeld hit me pretty hard. Learning important lessons can hurt a lot. Maybe it’s learning that your soulmate is not who you thought it was. Maybe it’s learning that your old identity doesn’t fit you anymore. Maybe the things you thought would make you happy are making you miserable. The pain only becomes knowledge when you learn from it, however.
A friend of mine got a great job offer recently. Well, I thought he was my friend. The thing is, I was the last person to find out. I had even asked him point blank if he wanted to leave our company, and he wouldn’t give me a straight answer. I told him I’d do whatever I could to help him succeed on our team, and if he wanted to leave he just had to tell me. And then I found out from someone else he had accepted a job elsewhere. Ouch.
The knowledge that came to me was that I was not as important to him as he was to me. That being honest with me was less important than holding his cards close as he negotiated his high new salary. That one of my best friends was actually just a former coworker. That offering someone a lot of support does not mean they would do the same for you. At the end of the day it’s his life, and these are all painful facts I need to accept. But the pain is only knowledge if you learn from it. He’s not a bad person, but putting more into a friend than they can give back is emotionally irresponsible. Sometimes people do hurtful things, and that’s their fault. But choosing to let them keep hurting you is your fault.
Pain can come from many places. Sometimes it’s things other people do, and sometimes it’s things we do to ourselves. The point is, usually there’s some knowledge associated with the pain. And you can choose to look for it and learn. Or you can decide not to. You can choose to feel the same pain over and over again. You can choose to make the same mistakes. You can let the knowledge blow down your house of straw and just rebuild it over and over again with hay instead of brick. It’s your choice.
I just want you to see pain for what it is. Pain is knowledge rushing in with great speed. Knowledge about relationships that won’t work out. Knowledge about jobs that aren’t a great fit for you. Knowledge about identities that don’t fit you anymore, goals that can’t make you happy, and people who weren’t who you thought they were. You can try to ignore the pain for now, but it won’t go away until you learn the lesson it’s trying to teach you.
I don’t know what pain you’re going through. But I do know there’s probably some knowledge behind it that’s waiting for you. Do you think it’s time to learn? Can you look for the lesson behind the pain? The knowledge might be uncomfortable, but so is this pain that won’t go away. Haven’t you had enough?
Further Reading: If this post resonated with you then I highly recommend Awareness by Anthony de Mello. I recommend a lot of books to family and friends, but this is the one that everyone has found helpful for anxiety, stress, and worry. Pain and intrusive thoughts happen to everyone, but once we improve our awareness of our mind and see the root causes, then we can use the knowledge behind the pain and make our lives better.