Pain and Punishment

Pain and Punishment

Let’s talk about another mental toughness myth: Pain and punishment lead to improvement.  

Watch this clip from Happy Gilmore that illustrates how we often let this myth play out. 

Happy never makes the hockey team.

Why do we and Happy get hooked? Every myth offers some truth. Painful experiences teach us. I’ve learned a lot from painful experiences in my life. We don’t need to inflict more pain to learn.

What’s your process for learning from the pain and the uncomfortable?  

Pain and the uncomfortable naturally occur. For much of my life, I thought that happened because of something I did. 

Clean pain is inevitable. It’s a natural consequence. It happens when we lose someone or when we experience disappointment. Sometimes we can prepare for it. Sometimes we can’t. 

Painful events usually result from a perfect storm of factors. We make it worse. We create dirty pain. We punish ourselves for trying and failing. We ignore other factors.  

Punishment is often the default cause — the first way we learn.

We say things like: 

This happened because I am such an idiot.

What is wrong with me? 

When will I ever learn? 

I can’t believe I’m so dumb.  

The answers are usually bull shit.

Think of an inspiring speech. How many start with any of that?

The adjustment is opening a door and reframing it. Ask how you can make it happen for you, instead of to you. What’s important now? Then, take action. What can you learn to move forward? What moves you toward your values? 

Sometimes, it may take time to figure that out, because the emotion and the new realities have not settled in. Then, make a conscious decision to act on your answers. 

Let’s change the conversation. Talk and learn about mental fitness.