10 Reasons to Embrace Pain: Resilience Reframe # 1

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Resilience Reframe

The Pain

I’m not your typical hip replacement candidate. For a start, I’m younger than is ideal – I’m likely to outlive the new hip and repeat surgery is not without complications. But here I am, in pain, and unexpectedly in need of surgery. I am lucky enough to have a shorter than average wait, but in the meantime I am faced with daily doses of pain relief, broken sleep and severe limitations to my mobility.

Finding the Right Question

My first reaction to this most recent development was one of despair. I have been in a very productive phase and have much planned for the next few weeks. My initial question was ‘how do I manage this problem’? Luckily, prompted by some meditation, I realised I was asking myself the wrong question. A much more fruitful line of enquiry is ‘what opportunities does this situation present?

But what has this to do with leadership, achievement and resilience? For me it is all about attitude. The world is not perfect and when we run into problems which interfere with our ability to lead and influence others it can be very easy to allow the gloom and doom to blind us to alternative and sometimes even better ways of being that might not occur to us when everything is going swimmingly. Converting the problem into an opportunity automatically puts us in a better frame of mind and allows us to see what is possible.

To be clear, there are some problems in the world which we as individuals cannot influence purely by changing our mindset, and I do not wish to trivialise the suffering that some face on a daily basis. But I do believe that we can all benefit from a fresh look a difficult situations.

Benefit Reframe

So here’s my attempt to nail down benefits to emerge from this situation. They are in no particular order, and don’t be fooled by how insignificant some of them seem – sometimes the smallest of changes are the most satisfying …

  1. Possible surgery in February has forced me to draw up my 2017 plans earlier than usual and has generated a welcome feeling of relief.
  2. I have talked to a neighbour properly for the first time because she caught up with me on an attempted walk up the lane on my crutches – usually I’m out of sight in minutes.
  3. Knowing I was seeing my medical consultant prompted me to meet with some colleagues whose office is near the hospital, as a result of which an interesting project is in the making.
  4. I had most of my Christmas cards written by the end of November!
  5. I feel that I am developing mental and spiritual strength as I am stretched to cope with what is happening, just as athletes develop muscle fitness through training.
  6. I have had to work out who the important members of my social network are and asked myself whether I am truly valuing their friendship.
  7. I am reminded that we often (perhaps never) have as much control as we we might think: letting go is leaving me more open to possibilities.
  8. Knowing that I will not be able to drive for a few weeks has led me to create a new online programme that I have been putting off for too long.
  9. Recently I have not been taking sufficient breaks and looking after myself- now I have to listen to my body and rest.
  10. Lowering myself into my seat is very funny to look out – we are all all laughing more!

I’ll leave you with a great quote from Charlie Chaplin – “To truly laugh, you must be able to take your pain, and play with it!”

Questions to take you further

  • What problems are you currently facing that might benefit from a Resilience Reframe?
  • What might you be holding on to unnecessarily?
  • How might a ‘forced’ new way of working be more beneficial than your existing long-established ‘best practice’?

Find out more about the work Clare McNamara does with leaders and their teams on influence and authenticity.

© Move Ahead Global 2016


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1 Comment
  • Tara Peyerl
    Posted at 02:23h, 08 December Reply

    Clare, I really enjoyed reading this! I especially love how you have embraced the situation as it is and instead of trying to change it, you have accepted this hip surgery and become EVEN more organized! I was reflecting as you wrote this at how vital the information is to me. As I start a new career I realize it is important for me to balance my use of external validation with my internal compass. And most importantly, stop making excuses and take action, which is what I have learned from you by watching you take action, even in the midst of pain!

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