Vital Habit #3

Learn From Pain

Pain is the Best Teacher

The one thing that seems to unify all humanity is that we all experience pain.  This is not a bad thing, as pain is the best teacher.  A child tries to throw his cat around like a rag doll and is scratched.  He learns to be more careful with animals.  A toddler puts some food in her mouth after her mother has warned her that is “hot”.  She quickly learns not to do this again.  While we need to protect children from serious pain that could scar them for life, if we protect them too much we will also prevent them from growing.  Children who have been overprotected by their parents often end up as dangerously vulnerable and immature adolescents.

The illusion that pain is always a “bad” thing is extremely dangerous.  Pain serves a purpose.  It’s a warning.  It’s a lesson.  Let’s review the example used in the 3rd Great Law above:  When we put our hand on a hot stove, it warns us to pull our hand away to prevent it from burning off.  Imagine, however, what would happen if instead of taking your hand off the stove you gave yourself a shot of morphine to deaden the pain.  It would make you feel better, of course, but the downside would be you would lose your hand.

Unfortunately, the silly illustration above occurs far too often in real life.  People feel pain, but instead of learning the lessons the pain has to offer or heeding its warnings, they medicate themselves to deaden the pain.  Some use alcohol, some use other drugs, some use intense relationships with other people, loud music, running away, anger, hiding or a combination of all of the above…there is a long list of different techniques.  All of them deaden the pain temporarily only to ensure that it will return again… usually in a more dramatic manner later.

Unfortunately life is like a relentless schoolteacher; the lessons, which we don’t learn, we are forced to repeat over and over until we finally do learn them.

Vital Habit #4 - Integrity

Vital Habits Index

Learning Exercises