How to Take a Punch from The Flinch

We humans are masters of pain avoidance.

We get hot, hit the A/C.  We get hungry, drive, don’t walk, to the fast food place down the block.  We have a slight headache, oh no it’s probably a migraine, time to choose from 500 different pain relievers.

But what if pain is what we need more of, not less, in our lives?

I’m reading Julien Smith’s The Flinch and in it he goes on beautiful rants about how pain and learning from pain sets us up for success.

Julien (I can call him that because I bought his free book – yes, it’s free), can you tell my readers why pain is good:

Here’s the thing:  the lessons you learn best are those you get burned by.  Without the scar, there’s no evidence or strong memory.  The event didn’t actually happen or imprint itself on your brain – you just trusted those who know better.  Adults know what’s safe, so you listen.  Over a lifetime, those who listen too much build a habit of trust and conformity.  Unfortunately, as time goes on, that habit becomes unbreakable.

After I read this I looked back over my life and thought about the lessons I had not only learned, but internalized.  One from my childhood quickly came to mind.

My Dad was a welder by trade and one day while he worked in his shop he was cutting some steel with a torch.  I watched him do it and marveled at the glowing steel.  You know how this is going to end, right?

The whole time my Dad was telling me don’t touch the piece that falls to the ground.  He even went on to warn me that once it stopped glowing I still shouldn’t touch it.

Eventually he turned around, I walked up to the non-glowing piece of steel and tried to pick it up.

One bad burn on my fingers later, I learned a lesson for  a lifetime that even though something may seem safe, it is probably wise to listen to those who know.  But I also learned that sometimes you have to find out for yourself.

I believe that is Julien’s main point above.  If the advice and direction of others limits you, you may never truly know what you are capable of.

And by the way, I’m not capable of picking up hot steel.

The Flinch is full of great insights on overcoming this fear of pain and how to learn from it and it reminds me of James Altucher’s Choose Yourself! and most everything by Chris Guillebeau.

I can’t recommend all three authors enough as we all overcome the pain and find success in any way we can.


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