How to Get Through Extreme Pain: The Tools Book Review: The Reversal of Desire

We all go through pain, usually daily. Sometimes the pain is mild (“Jeez it’s cold in here!”) sometimes it’s sharp (“Oh shit I just got fired.”) and how we learn to cope with pain can make or break us. Every now and then, in our lives we can experience immense amounts of pain, usually due to a life event that has had a significant impact on us. Some people get felled like a tree when even the tiniest things go wrong in their lives, others can cope with intense situations with ease and grace.

But we all struggle with pain. Pain is common to us all. The Queen experiences pain. The Dali Lama experiences pain. Angelina Jolie experiences pain. It doesn’t matter how grand, how spiritual or how rich and beautiful you are. Everyone goes through pain.

Pain allows us to grow.

“When there is rain there is growth.” We don’t always learn by achieving and gaining success, sometimes we have to go through awful things to move forward and grow.

The Tools: New York Times best seller

My mother found me a great book the other week. Like the true champion she is, she bought it for me. I don’t often read “self help” books, but this one is delightfully free of mumbo-jumbo and double-speak. It’s good. You should buy it. The book is called The Tools By Phil Stutz and Barry Michels. It’s a New York Times Bestseller. Here is the official Tools website. Today I will talk about Tool 1: The Reversal of Desire.

The simple concept is to run towards pain when you feel it. By constantly running towards pain we lessen how afraid we are of it and it loses its power over us. The book gives the example of the linebacker constantly running towards the biggest guys on the football field to tackle them. His team mates hesitate, but he doesn’t concentrate on his fear. He runs towards what he is afraid of and by doing this, he gains inner strength. Soon no one can touch him.

The pain of a relationship break down

This is how I need to be. Lately I have been feeling almost crippled by pain, due to a split with my ex partner. We were not married and had no children, but the breakup truly devastated me and I am struggling to move out of this place of pain. Pain can propel us forward, but not if we remain stuck in it. In order to receive the life lessons we are supposed to, we need to go through the pain and emerge stronger – towards what the book calls “endless possibilities”.

The Tools By Phil Stutz and Barry Michels.

Stuck in a place of pain

I’m not sure if I feel like running towards endless possibilities, but I know I cannot allow myself to remain stuck in this place of pain. I am not a dweller, but it has become apparent to me that I have an enormous fear of romantic relationships ending. I also have fear of abandonment and commitment issues. I am also controlling and desire to be controlled. But it’s OK. We all have things we need to work on, and my grab-bag of personal phobias is nothing new, or uncommon. The danger could be in ignoring these things I have discovered instead of electing to work on them.

Navel-gazing, am I?

Well, yes. But what else are we here for? Although I may seem overly concerned with myself, my feelings and my pain, by choosing to work on this stuff and knock it on the head, I make myself more emotionally available in the future. I cannot spend the next ten years of my life pining for my ex or refusing to fall in love again. I have to move on, bravely and calmly, and emerge on the other side a better, stronger woman.

So – what are the Tools?

I will only deal with the first one here. This is called the Reversal of Desire: How to get through Pain. Say to yourself:

  1. Bring it on.
  2. I love pain!
  3. Pain sets me free.

Funnily enough, when I felt myself wallowing in pain I would utter statement two. It sounds so funny and ridiculous that it seemed to pull me out of my funk. By owning these feelings I feel more empowered by them. I cannot blame my feelings on anybody else. I own them wholly and totally and I will move through them. My feelings cannot kill me, even though I feel that they might. I am stronger than these feelings.

I desired this pain because this pain will allow me to grow. This pain is my inner self desiring something more from me. This pain is making me a stronger woman. This pain is making me better.

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One thought on “How to Get Through Extreme Pain: The Tools Book Review: The Reversal of Desire

  1. I have found the exact same thing. You know how when an ice cream headache dissipates and you have that tremendous, full-body sensation of relief? It is almost worth the initial headache, almost. That is sort of where I am with emotional pain now. I won’t say I run toward it but a real part of me invites it because it is causing me to grow past my need for comfort into greater maturity.

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