How bad does the pain have to get?
I was coaching a client of mine who is a business coach (yes, even we coaches need coaching!) and he mentioned a phrase which a colleague of his uses:
‘It is a choice between the pain of discipline and the pain of regret'.
Given that the word ‘discipline' often evokes a rebellious response from many people, it got me thinking that it might be worth exploring further in an Inspire. I also think it is not only the ‘pain of regret' in terms of missing out on changing, but also the pain that we are experiencing in our current situation. Sometimes people are willing to put up with a lot of physical, mental or emotional pain in their current situation rather than go through the ‘pain' of making changes in themselves and their lives to end up in a ‘pain free' situation in the future.
Let's look at the pain experienced in our current situations. Here are some examples from recent clients and myself:
- Emotional pain associated with lack of self esteem or continuing to let your inner critic beat you up.
- Mental and emotional pain of dealing with a bullying boss or colleague.
- Emotional pain of a gradually disintegrating relationship at work, at home or in your family.
- Physical exhaustion of a long commute and/or stressful job and not getting enough sleep as getting up so early in the morning.
- Emotional turmoil of dealing with financial problems, preferring to shove envelopes in a drawer rather than face up to the truth.
- Physical pain, i.e. my back, then neck, then knee pain – how bad before we seek help, go online and find exercises and actually do them!
- Pain of disappointment or regret that you still can't fit into that outfit you bought yourself.
There are many physical, mental or emotional pains that we might experience in our live. Now let's look at the pain of discipline:
- It is often about changing habits of a lifetime to create new disciplines in our lives and our work.
- It might mean getting out of our comfort zone, perhaps facing up to some emotional and psychological truths about yourself, your relationships and your life.
- It might be about avoiding doing something that we enjoy doing, e.g. snacking throughout the day without thinking about the consequences.
- It might be about going through the ‘pain and tiredness' of starting to exercise before you get to the serotonin high once you are fitter and exercise regularly.
- It might mean getting up 20 minutes earlier to fit in the exercises to alleviate the back/neck/knee pains – which might, in turn, involve getting to bed a bit earlier mid-week.
- It might be about doing things that you thought were ‘not me', ‘not how I do things', in order to create a new better life for yourself.
What physical, mental or emotional pain do you have in your life that you have been ignoring?
‘The man who can drive himself further once the effort gets painful is the one who will win.'
Having thought about writing this Inspire, I came across this quote from Oscar Wilde, which I think many of us can relate to:
‘To get back to my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable.'
Well, perhaps the respectable bit doesn't apply! But how many of us moan about an ailment, a difficult colleague, work you don't like, an unhappy relationship or being overweight and don't do anything about it! As human beings, we often do not do anything until the pain is too much or a change is brought about without us choosing it, either through a partner leaving, a health scare or being made redundant.
I was very much like this in the past, when I felt disempowered and did not think I had a choice or could change much in myself and my life. Through 22 years of Buddhist practice and personal development, most of the time I take action pretty quickly, partly because I do not want to live with the physical, mental or emotional pain associated with the situation. Here are some very recent examples:
- When a friend leant me the ‘Treat Your Own Back' book when I mentioned my back problems I started immediately to do the exercises every day and they work, so I continue with them. Then when my neck seized up, I Googled ‘Treat Your Own Neck exercises' and got working on that as well. And then an old knee problem occurred and I found exercises for that as well – hence the getting up 20 minutes earlier to fit in all the exercises, but it is worth it to be relatively pain free and cycling again!
- By being more mindful, I am quick to spot when I feel off centre, when I am not totally relaxed or confident, and take action to change my emotional state (see here for the May Inspire on Mindfulness At Work). For example, I was on the London underground the other day travelling to run a Master Your Inner Critic workshop and I realised I that I didn't feel completely happy. I realised it was nothing to do with the workshop I was about to run but there were lots of ‘shoulds' in my head about the coming weekend. I then asked myself ‘what do you really want to do on Saturday'? The answer came quickly and the inner fight was over and I felt centred again.
What is interesting is that when people come to me for coaching or come on one of my workshops, they often say ‘I wish I had done this earlier, I wish I had learned about this kind of thing years ago'. I do think it is a case of better late than never but it is interesting how often we can live with a certain amount of pain in our lives before we do anything about it.
What disciplines are you going to adopt to assist you in your life?
I was a great ‘Yes but-er' in the past, and often find people falling into this mode of being when others make suggestions or share things that have worked for them. This is often a sign that we are either not ready to change or that we need to find our own solutions rather than be told what to do.
People ask me, who my ideal clients are, and I say, ‘People who are ready to change and willing to put in the effort to make those changes'. When they are in that state, coaching or training will work as they are ready for the ‘pain of discipline' in order to remove the current pain they are experiencing.
We might still encounter obstacles to change, which are often internal rather than external, but we are in the mindset to overcome them. See February's Inspire on the Hero's Journey and overcoming obstacles by clicking here. Even obstacles of time and money are often down to our beliefs. When we have empowering, rather than limiting, beliefs, and act with an open mindset, we can find ways of creating the time and the money or getting support from unexpected sources.
What ‘Yes buts' do you hear yourself saying?
‘And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.'
If you are you might consider some of the following:
- Taking my free Coaching Audit or Team Development Audit (if the problems and pain lie with you and your team), see below for details or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Attend my free Managing Challenging Interactions taster workshop – If your pain is due to how you are communicating and interacting with others, this might be a good place to start. See below for details or email email@example.com.
- Buy yourself a self development book (or get it off your shelf where it has sat since you bought it!!), read it and use it. It is surprising how many people say I've got your book but haven't read it or have read it but not done anything with it. I sometimes do one off coaching sessions to assist people in using the exercises in the book. See here for more information about my book: Master Your Inner Critic, Release Your Inner Wisdom, which you can buy directly from me (£8.99 free P&P or from bookshops and online) or buy on Kindle (click here).
- Visualise success rather than failure or how hard the change will be – see here for more on this.
- Surround yourself with inspiration – whether that is people who will inspire and support you, inspiring quotes, or take a look at the back issues of Inspire (since 2006) for further inspiration, see here.
‘There was that law of life, so cruel and so just, that one must grow or else pay more for remaining the same.'
I was out on my bike earlier on today having thought I had finished writing this edition of Inspire, when I suddenly thought (as I peddled away joyfully) that, in time, when we start to reap the benefits of the ‘pain of discipline', we can end up finding pleasure or even joy from it. When we create a ‘virtuous cycle', rather than a ‘vicious cycle' of habit and behaviour we go beyond the pain to pleasure. See here for an edition of Inspire that I wrote in 2011 on this topic.