It’s been almost 15 years since I had my one and only surgery to date.
I don’t remember the pain during surgery; they provided the necessary dose of anesthesia, but, OH YEAH, I remember it after the surgery and throughout the recovery period. Each stage had its own texture of pain.
I met with my doctor a few times before the surgery and he said to me at one point, “It’s amazing how you’ve tolerated this condition for so long, aren’t you in a lot of pain?” My response was basically that I’d simply adapted to the discomfort (he chuckled that I referred to it as discomfort instead of pain) simply making due with the situation.
He seemed impressed, but he probably thought I was a little wacko.
After the surgery, we had another discussion about my tolerance for pain, as I was pretty adamant about not taking any kind of medication. They tried a couple of times to talk me into it, but I firmly said “No, the pain will eventually subside.” I just wasn’t interested in being foggy or unclear, even if it meant being more comfortable.
I’m not sure if this was the best decision at the time, but I was right, the pain did eventually go away and I was better than ever.
After it was all said and done, I couldn’t fathom how I had tolerated all of that physical pain, or as I called it, discomfort.
I also don’t understand why it took me so long to say yes to the surgery, a solution with a full proof chance to make things better, bring me some much needed relief. The bottom line was: I was scared out of my mind.
I didn’t like experiencing the “discomfort” or pain, but when a solution was suggested, I imagined the pain of surgery being much worse than what I was dealing with.
I thought about the associated risks of the surgery, the recovery time and how that would seriously disrupt my life, which is why it took me awhile to get on board.
I had to realize that the pain associated with getting better and having my freedom again was minimal compared to remaining in the state I was in. I was suffering but had talked myself into believing that I was just experiencing some “discomfort.”
Fear is always on the menu. It comes in a variety of shapes, sizes, flavors and textures.
We justify over and over again why we won’t do something that clearly is going to lead to a better outcome; we’re just afraid.
As my “discomfort” increased, I got sick and tired, of being sick and tired. I finally had to admit it. I was in PAIN!
I guess I thought taking the pain made me tough. On some level I loved the idea of being perceived as a strong.
I can certainly make the decision not to take medication when I’m ailing and want to stay clear and alert to what is happening to me, but if there is a recommended way to move beyond a state of continuous pain, it makes more sense to consider it and be decisive about it rather than drag things along, all the while suffering needlessly.
At some point I got used to some of the pain, but most of the time I just endured it. I was too afraid of the unknown on the other side.
A high tolerance for pain suggests a low tolerance for happiness.
Although I don’t like how that sounds, I suppose that’s an accurate assessment. During that experience, I had a high tolerance for pain and a low tolerance for my personal happiness. I really was miserable and had settled for a mediocre existence. What’s that about?
These days, with a stronger intention to live fully, I’m more aware than ever how crucial it is that I practice having a high tolerance for happiness. This means being alert to situations that cause unnecessary pain, really looking at the situation and feeling the pain but also considering if I can make a different decision to restore or increase my happiness.
Don’t get me wrong, pain is a permanent color on the palette in which we paint our life experiences, but we don’t have to choose pain on purpose because we’re too afraid of the alternatives.
In most cases, the alternative puts us in a better situation to experience more happiness.
Playing the victim, rolling around in the mudpit of suffering, and dragging out situations that can clearly change for the better with just a simple decision to shift in a different direction are a memory.
There’s no “real” reward for it, just more misery. Enough already. Having a high tolerance for happiness and joy is the goal.
True, we can’t control external circumstances, some of which can cause pain, but we can control our reaction to those circumstances. We also have a measure of control over how we live our lives.
Doesn’t a high tolerance for happiness and joy make more sense?
That’s easier said than done, I know. Sometimes, it’s just hard to shift things in a different direction because we don’t know what’s on the other side, there are no guarantees. But, my experience is that what’s on the other side has always been better. And, sometimes, it was about reframing the situation to see the lesson, being open to the possibilities.
Let’s not allow fear to block our high tolerance for happiness and joy.
What is it you’re tolerating that’s making you unhappy because you are afraid of what’s on the other side? Is your tolerance for happiness high or low?
Robbi Crawford, The Student’s Mentor, Author and Speaker is the founder of BrijBrand. Subscribe to our blog below, then sign up at BrijBrand.co to join our community. We’ll keep you in the loop about what we’re building for YOU, and create a safe place for you to land when you’re feeling stuck, want some suggestions, need a plan or just want some encouragement and support!