Mastering pain. “The Tools” blog series part one.
In this series I will include a personal story in relation to each Tool in the book “The Tools” by Phil Stutz and Barry Michels.
There are many many stories in my life that I would love to tell you that deal with the topic of mastering pain and pushing past pain to a better place.
I was going to sit here and tell you a silly but significant story about when I started attempting to master my pain as a little kid. When I first moved to America from Honduras. I knew no english and was intimidated by just about every human being on this new land. This land flowing with beautiful Barbie like creatures and how I decided to overcome the pain of intimidation little by little and breakthrough my pain to be strong whenever the teacher called on me to the front of the class or whenever I just had to speak english when I was too scared to.
But I’ll tell that story later.
Instead, I want to tell a story that I feel will be more relatable because I am sure that you’ve been through something similar in the past. I want to share the story of when I broke my engagement to a boy I had adored since I was 12.
For the sake of this blog post and staying on topic. I will focus on the strength it took for me to push past the pain barrier of this break up and the fact that I knew it would catapult me out of my comfort zone. Breaking up this engagement is still one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
At the tender age of 19 I became engaged to my middle school crush. A boy I had wanted to be all mine since I was 12. Someone I adored immensely and who I felt adored me back. I loved his family, he loved mine. We were preparing ourselves for our own future family, made us a home sweet home and he was as cute as can be. I couldn’t possibly want anything else. Right?
Well, as it turns out I wanted and needed a heck of a lot more. A lot more than your average Joana. (My take on your average Joe, get it? Or has someone else coined that already?..) A lot more than I even knew myself. But how could I have known really? I was 19 after all.
His and my life at such a young age quickly blended into each other with such blurry lines that I lost myself completely and his blurry line quickly overpowered my own. It was so fast I had no idea where my line went or if it had ever even existed.
Years went by. I felt unappreciated. I was unsatisfied with myself, with our relationship, with my life. I begged and pleaded for help, for a change, for guidance. I tried to find every avenue I could to find my happiness. Eventually, I just knew that it couldn’t happen by his side. So I mustered up all the courage and faith I could find within myself, and left.
Now I am going to plain out say I had a cushy young life with him and my comfort zone was probably the highest it’s ever been at that point. I didn’t have to worry about many finances. My life revolved around him and our families, going out to eat, presents, dinner with friends, shopping. Not the life of the rich and famous but a very cushy, easy one to say the least.
For me to leave someone I loved that much was heartbreaking enough. But for me to let go of all that security and start from ground zero? It terrified me and I didn’t want to sacrifice anything I was already used to. So when I say I catapulted myself out of my comfort zone I mean I straight up catapulted myself out of my comfort zone. I pushed through that pain barrier and came out on the other side with some of the best independent years of my life. I felt a surge of freedom and strength and was succeeding all by myself.
I loved this boy to pieces during our break up and for much longer after that. But I knew I had to go.
In the words of Fergie and a song I played on repeat during this time – “The path that I’m walking I must go alone.
I must take the baby steps till I’m full grown. Fairy tales don’t always have a happy ending, do they? And I foresee the dark ahead if I stay”
Fergie – Big Girls Don’t Cry
I’d love to tell you that was the only time I had to push past that pain barrier but oh no.. I’ve had to do it many times over. Whether it has been in another relationship or letting go of friendships or a job I knew I had to change. I am actually having to do it right now again for something I truly thought I’d never do! This semester I will take the most difficult math class I have ever taken and I am shakin’ in my boots. But I wanted to tell you this particular story because I feel you may relate and it has been one of the most impactful, life changing events for me to lead to the life I want. This life event taught me the fundamentals of what it takes to break-thru a strong pain barrier and little by little start mastering my pain.
Now here’s the nitty gritty and how this book will help you master your pain and catapult you out of your own comfort zone.
Heres how I explain this-
“The Tool” to master your pain.
- If you are inspired by this Tools blog series, please note- You must read the entire book. Keeping a note pad handy as you read is not a bad idea.
The first chapter of the tools talks about our obsession as humans with immediate gratification, which of course leads to our need for our comfort zone. I am completely guilty of this and I have an inkling you are too. We struggle with immediate gratification from anything from our diet to shopping to relationships and emotional satisfaction. This chapter particularly speaks of needing instant gratification when we go into therapy sessions. Wanting a quick “fix it” outcome. By knowing some of our insecurities, we have a mental note of any mommy and daddy issues that we may feel lead to whatever disfunction we are facing at the time, but we have this need for immediate results without acquiring the patience and discipline it takes to “fix” ourselves. Immediate results come with courage and hard work, this book proves it is attainable to heal fast with discipline and awareness.
Most importantly this first chapter puts a perfect perceptive that our healing and most importantly our happiness is in our own hands.
Book Quote- “Real change requires you to change your behavior not just your attitude.”
We make excuses to get us out of the things we really desire because we feel we aren’t good enough. Many books speak of the same (I’ll call it an illness) illness. It’s the illness of resistance. All based on fear. We would rather do anything else than sit down and write the first page to our book. We’d rather surf Netflix for an hour deciding what to watch than spend that hour drafting our business plan. We’d rather arrange our Pinterest boards first before sitting down and writing our next blog post. Yea..I do that.
Now I had some real digging to do to figure out what my different types of comfort zones have been and what they are now. I noticed that a comfort that always seems to be present is in whatever the opposite is of what I have to be doing in that moment. If I have to study for an exam, I’d rather be reading a play. If I have to read a play for an upcoming theatre production I am in, I’d rather be researching health and nutrition (in other words exam material). It’s a mad circus inside my head. Our comfort goes to whatever makes us feel safe because we don’t have to try that hard in that thing at that moment with the potential daunting ultimate FAIL. i.e., acting means the world to me. Yet I find myself procrastinating when it comes to preparing for an audition, forcing myself to sit down and do the work while my brain is working overtime letting me know all the reasons I won’t get that job. If it means that much to me why wont my brain buckle itself down in happiness at that audition and put it’s best foot forward to nail that job I want more than anything in the world (even if it’s a measly one liner..) Why do I do that to myself? Because I’m avoiding pain, naturally. Because procrastination is the ultimate form of comfort zone. My brain would rather do the things it knows will give me a certain outcome, instead of the uncertain, which may lead to pain.
I am good at putting my foot out there, and then nudging it back just a bit to keep myself safe. This realization has made me a bit sad but with the help of “The Tools” I am glad I have finally realized it. Now it’s up to me to fix it.
Quote- “We insist pain be replaced with pleasure.”
How bad do you want to get out of your comfort zone to live the life you want of freedom and success whatever that may be? The first tool in the book to help us overcome our comfort zone utopia is the “Reversal of Desire.” Master your pain. Get on stage, sweat profusely and slowly but surely you will start mastering your pain and it will set you free. It takes discipline and the most important first step is awareness but trust me, it works. These steps require a whole lot more explaining so please, to fully understand this tool and put it to use, read the first chapter of this book. I promise they do a much better job explaining it than I.
Take the action that moves you to the future you want, and then tell me about it! For me right now this means doubling down on work for auditions, exams and sitting my butt down to write my next blog post. Who needs to hold you accountable to these things that will make your dreams come true? You do.
The force of forward motion will be there for you if you take the steps.
I’ll tell you this. The first time I put up a theatre scene in front of an audience, I was sweating bullets from my pits to my toes. I feel every time I audition it is done with the use of the Tool “reversal of desire” and having read this book made it make sense to me. I take improv classes because it scares me as much as someone holding a gun to my head. That’s how I know those classes are important. I write personal stories on this blog with firecracker nerves and the sweatiest palms but I know it must be done. I feel I began to use the “reversal of desire” long ago but not until I read this book did it become clear to me what it was and how I could really master it to get the life I want for myself and my family. Create your own future. Desire pain so you can master it. It will set you free. Anytime you feel you’re avoiding something use the “reversal of desire”. How to know when you are avoiding something? That’s where my expertise comes in and I tell you to master yourself and your emotions by keeping a journal.
The universe will open up to you if you let it. Put in the hard work and tell the universe you’re ready, but you must show it you are by being fearless and resilient. It may put you to the test but thats the beauty of it, isn’t it? Keep moving forward, no matter what.
One of the worst feelings in the world for me is to feel stuck and I have avoided it at all costs. Whether that be in relationships or a job. I’ve always made sure I’m moving forward. Now with my new found knowledge and The Tools to help, I can push myself to conquer all I desire and have a tool I can grab when I need it. I have to work on my awareness to use these tools at my disposal but I do feel myself getting better at it daily.
I recognize I am not Oprah to preach, but I am proud of where I’ve gotten myself and how I live. I’m proud of my job, my home, my experiences, my resilience, my freedom, most importantly my health. Chewie’s health too! I can’t wait to master these tools and see what the future brings.
What is your comfort zone? Mastering pain needs to become a habit and that will only happen with changing our behavior daily at any sign of the comfort zone.
Quote from the book by Wendell Holmes in “the voiceless” – “Alas for those that never sing,/but die with all their music in them.”
I strongly believe we all have a unique, magical, beautiful song to sing that no one else could even hum. It’s our very own song, if only we’d step up to the mic.
It’s your call to step up to your mic, it’s only meant for you.
Here is the link to “The Tools” website. Check it out. https://www.thetoolsbook.com/
Ciao con amor y besitos,
P.s- Please share your stories with me as you read the book!