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Wednesday, November 26, 2014


The biggest role that pain plays in our lives is that it teaches us patience and acceptance.

A post on facebook by Chennai Live 104.8 FM RJ Jane Jeyakumar, that I saw this morning, got me thinking. Jane, it appears, has injured her left thumb (hope she gets well soon!). She hash-tagged her post reporting the injury saying #PainTeachesYouPatience. She said it – and has said it so well!

We often think that Life is conspiring against us when we are confronted with pain. It might be through an injury like Jane’s or it can be a graver health challenge or a relationship issue or death of loved one. Through any of these or similar situations, what we must recognize is that Life has no agenda. It just keeps on happening. Sometimes what happens to us meets our expectations. And sometimes it does not meet our expectations. Often, in fact, we are neither ready for nor are we wanting what happens to us. That’s when we experience pain. Who wants a cancer or a pink slip or the death of child or separation from a loved one? But chances of pain happening to us exist as long as Life is happening to us. As long as we are alive. And the only reason, this is my personal, experiential view, pain exists is to make us all better human beings – to make us more patient with and more accepting of Life.

I remember in the hey days of our business, when as a start-up consulting Firm, we were clocking revenues of Rs.2 Crore+, I used to be so impatient. I would jump at every situation that did not meet my expectations – a delayed client inflow, a poorly groomed team member, my children waking up late for school or a comma or a full-stop missing in an email. I was nicknamed chiefscreamer (my business title is chiefdreamer) by my team members at work. And then when my Firm went bust and we had to shut down our offices, I learnt acceptance of our new, painful reality – the hard way. I remember sitting in our office one afternoon, as we were winding down operations, tearing up posters of our Firm’s Vision and Mission. We had no place to put up these posters elsewhere or even store them. So they had to be shredded lest they end up in a garbage dump somewhere. It was such a painful exercise. Heart-wrenching for someone like me who loved my Firm so much. But I went through that entire exercise patiently that day – physically letting go of everything that my Firm once stood for and looked like. That’s when it struck me that, over the years of our tumultuous bankruptcy, I had learnt to be patient. I had become stronger in being able to do what had to be done without being emotional about it. Indeed, all my pain had helped me grow and evolve both as a manager and as a human being.

The lesson here for all of us is that pain is not a choice. It is inevitable. But when you accept and embrace pain, you have the opportunity to learn and evolve from it. If you resist it, on the other hand, questioning its presence and wishing it away, you will suffer. Respect pain as you would respect a teacher. And it will teach you to be patient in and with Life!  

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