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Weekly Self-inflictions #8: Pain (Transcript)

“Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.” ~William Goldman

Pain is an inherent aspect of our journey, but there’s nothing saying we can’t transform that pain to a guide, or even a powerful teacher. If we can gain the capacity to recognize the guideposts and learn the lessons that Pain provides, we’ll be more adept at adapting and more likely to transform pain into providence.

But make no mistake, providence isn’t a state of bliss. It’s constructed out of pain. It’s made out of scars. Its wisdom comes from sacred wounds. It was forged in a crucible of the soul and a Rubicon of the spirit. Indeed. Providence is proof that pain remains our most powerful sharpening stone.

This is how strength has been forged since time immemorial. Pressure is how diamonds are made. The incessant rub is how pearls are formed. Enduring pain is how strength manifests. A journey through the abyss is where heroes are born. As Jung said, “A man grows with the greatness of his task.”

Therefore, pain should not be avoided at the expense of doing what we love. What we love should be embraced at the risk of pain.

From this strength will come the capacity for deep evaluation. Your own set of values will be the gold that the dragon of your psychic dungeon has been hoarding all along. But now you ARE the dragon. Now you HAVE teeth. Now you can turn that fool’s gold into real gold, into a value system that empowers you to greater and greater heights.

It’s only by discovering your own set of values, your own purpose and meaning, that you become valuable. Valuable to yourself, to others, to your community, and to the world. This is providence: the ability to reevaluate all values.

Self-inflicted philosophy is a discipline of reevaluating all values. It’s a constant self-interrogation. We “inflict” philosophy on ourselves to break through our barriers, biases, cognitive dissonance, cultural conditioning, political brainwashing, religious indoctrination, and, most of all, to stretch our comfort zone.

This can be painful. But it’s masochistic in an existential sense. Existential masochism teaches us how to discover joy despite the pain of life. It unearths the mystery from the misery. It’s not only finding pleasure in pain, but also the pleasurable experience of transforming pain into strength.

In the end, the most powerful is the one who transforms pain into purpose, purpose into power, power into humility, and humility into humor.

The most authentic kind of meaning that we can create is the humorous kind that has been dug up from the ashes of tragedy. Sure, life is full of pain and suffering; but it’s also full of laughter and love.

As Kierkegaard said, “Satire causes pain, but this pain is oriented toward healing.”


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