Choose Pain

OK, here’s the deal. And this time it’s the real deal, not that fake deal I told you about a while ago. You’re doing everything wrong. And I do everything right. Except writing cursive and throwing lawn darts. I can’t write straight because I always have so much caffeine in my system that my appendages shake uncontrollably.

Lucky for you, I’m benevolent and merciful and I have a sweet website you can read over and over again. If you subscribe, I’ll hook you up with my introductory package, which includes a stick of deodorant that I was given as a gift, vegetables, and slew of derogatory/motivational phrases which I wrote on on a pack of post-it notes that I stole from my last job. Before any of you get all high and mighty about theft in the workplace, I’ll have you know that they had been stealing bits and pieces of my soul since day one, and that subtly taking office supplies was a far cry from the worst thing I did while I was there.

There were a few positive things about working at this wretched tortuous environment though. I  developed a keener than normal sense of hearing, and that other sense that some people have that allows them to be aware of someone staring at them from across the room. This was not in the Bear Grylls sense of being aware, but in the sense that I had just edited my bosses face onto a picture of dinosaur in MS paint, and needed to be aware of any prying eyes. I also learned the art of forging official documents (yea right CPR card), and printing my resume out on the main printer.

But I digress.

I learned a very important lesson last week when I got a new tattoo on my neck. The lesson didn’t come when I was finished with the portrait of a centaur wielding Thor’s hammer, but rather a few days later, when I had forgotten about  the excruciating pain that I had been put through for 4 hours, and started contemplating finishing the tattoo on my back of the ghost pirate ship attacking an army of dragons in tanks.

Note: Not this kind of centaur.

Had I not learned my lesson? What was it about tiny needles stabbing my skin over and over again that I was able to forget so easily?

That’s because the human brain has an inability to remember the sensation of pain. Whether it’s slamming your finger in the car door, your ‘fight’ club’ party, or a hangover, we as humans forget very easily what feeling bad feels like.

This is just a evolutionary safeguard so that the human race does not die out. I am not a doctor, and don’t know anything really, but I’m not sure how many women would opt for labor a second time if they could bring up an acute memory of the sensation of giving birth.

What does this mean for you? First of all, it means that tattoo shops and suppliers aren’t going anywhere, so you might as well buy stock in Unimax. Secondly, what it means is that you should not be afraid to challenge yourself to do things that might cause you pain. Obviously, I’m not talking about the pain of being run over by a car. Leave that to guys  from Jackass, whom I assume have no memory whatsoever.

But during your workouts, and in your life, we often get to a point where whatever were doing at the time is causing a deep burning pain that makes us very, very uncomfortable. If we realize that this pain is in our heads, and we wont even be able to recall it in 20 minutes, we can push past our plateaus and barriers and accomplish the goals we set for ourselves.

Same goes for eating. We don’t recall the very natural sensation of being hungry, yet we as Americans have a deep fear of going 4 hours without eating. You don’t need to be full all the time. Skip the cake next time and embrace the pain of a slight craving. One week later, I promise you wont regret it.

If we never press past our comfort zone, we’ll never progress in the things we want to. Whether you’re looking to lose weight, gain muscle, get fit, or just stay healthy, there will always be a point where you’ve “had enough” and want to stop, take it back a notch, call it a day, whatever. At this point, it’s very important to draw upon the power of the centaur tattoo, and smash the barriers that hold you back with the hammer of Thor.

Note: That last sentence was almost as corny as this actual movie. My deepest apologies go out to anyone who actually saw Thor, and was offended by this post.