Although this sounds harsh, it’s not as bad as it might seem. Because sometimes your ability to move forward in life is predicated on one’s ability to endure pain – and I mean this both metaphorically and literally. Forcing oneself to endure physical pain has other benefits as well, but more on that later.
Physical rehabilitation is a great example of this, and exercising to modify your body would also fall under this heading. For example, right now I am recovering from surgery. In the post surgery period, there are two types of pain you have to deal with – the pain of your body attempting to heal itself from the inflicted trauma, and the pain you must endure by voluntarily pushing your body to heal in such a way that you will retain as much function from the damaged parts as possible. One of our physiological mechanisms for healing is the creation of scar tissue – the body is attempting to heal the wound by repairing it with tissue stronger than what was there before. Unfortunately, this scar tissue is also stiffer and less pliable than the material it is replacing, so in order to heal without contractures (deformity or rigidity of the affected parts) you must physically stretch and manipulate the scar tissue to be as pliable as possible. This fucking hurts! And it hurts on top of the pain you already have from the injury!
As if this wasn’t bad enough, you can’t dilly dally with this – you have a very brief window of time to self-inflict this pain and recover before the scar tissue hardens into its permanent state. Once that happens, no amount of rehab is going to fix it, no, I’m afraid it’s going to be more surgery for you. The only way will be to break it again, giving you yet another opportunity to suffer and try to manipulate the healing process.
The good news here is this: by forcing yourself to endure pain, a weird thing happens. You are no longer afraid of it – by inflicting it on yourself, it no longer rules you – you now rule it. What once seemed like a nightmare now becomes a personal expression of who you are.
To not be afraid of pain is to be a very formidable person indeed.
To not fear pain is to have no fear at all.