Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Choose Your Pain
Nobody in this life is a stranger to pain. It is an unescapable reality. As far as I know everybody struggles with something in their life.
An obese man who keeps on eating unhealthy foods and practicing a sedentary lifestyle knows he will have to pay for it sooner or later. He eats like there is no tomorrow and because he is fat he barely has the energy to move around as a result. It does not matter to him what food he eats as long as it suits his taste buds and his belly is full. Because of his size he must have probably experienced some sort of ridicule and insult pertaining to his weight. He has probably heard from well-meaning friends and relatives a million times to watch his diet and exercise more often, but he continues on with his daily routine.
A sex addict caught into his late night habit of viewing internet porn when everyone else is asleep says to himself that it is just a harmless past time and that he is not hurting anyone. Over time, not content with just viewing porn and masturbation, he suddenly finds himself wanting to "act out" what he sees on the internet with another person. He searches online for hook-ups and now engages in one night stands with strangers. A few of his close friends counsel him regularly not to engage in such risky behavior but he ignores them, choosing instead to exact as much pleasure as he can get from his sexual escapades.
In both situations given above, choosing the pain of change is the most logical recourse if one wants to find himself in a better place.
Sure, it is the most uncomfortable thing in the world to do and ingrained habits do not disappear overnight. This might require you to make substantial lifestyle changes and personal sacrifices on your part and I understand that some people would rather stay where they are and do nothing about the situation...until it is all too late.
And this is where the second type of pain comes in - the pain of not changing - the pain of regret.
The obese man may choose to eat all the unhealthy foods he wants until he gets fatter and fatter and finally ends up having a stroke or heart attack. At this point, he realizes the extent of the damage to his health. He also realizes what a great burden he is to his family and loved ones. He now regrets it. The damage to his health is severe and he realizes if he had only made some adjustments to his eating habits and lifestyle, he is in a much better health condition now.
Meanwhile, the sex addict continues to engage in risky sexual encounters with prostitutes and strangers, ignoring the advices and warnings of the few people who know his struggle. One day his family discovers his sexual exploits and they left him out in the cold. To complicate the situation, he begins developing some flu-like symptoms, malaise, and unexplained weight loss. He later finds out he is HIV positive. Now he is totally devastated.
The situations I mentioned above do happen to real people and are meant to illustrate my point.
In whatever struggle we find ourselves in, the wise choice is to always choose the pain of change. I must tell you that it is going to hurt. Pain accompanies change. Habits are indeed hard to break.
But by making deliberate and positive steps, we can eventually correct the situation. The obese man may opt to stick to a health and fitness regimen suited to his condition. He will need to give up some unhealthy foods and opt for more healthful ones. Over time, this can result in a healthier and stronger body, thus minimizing the risk factors that can lead to serious and life-threatening illnesses.
The sex addict, coming to terms with his sexual addiction and acknowledging his need for help, may choose to seek the help of a pastor, a counselor, and a support group. Support from his family will also be of great help for him on his quest to achieve sobriety.
On the other hand I believe that the pain of regret is much more painful and costlier than the pain of change.
The pain of regret is comparable to the feeling of losing something of great value because of one's own fault and being deprived of the chance to gain it back again. It is a most painful kind of experience. I would like to compare it to the pain of loss that a damned soul endure in hell. In that awful place he has lost God which is his highest good for all eternity, he is in extreme torment, and he has no hope or opportunity whatsoever to change his situation and regain what he has lost. Now that is really painful.
We all have a choice. The good news is that we can choose the pain we want to endure. We can choose to change now while there is still a chance or we can choose to persist in our ways and be sorry for them later. The choice is ultimately ours. I hope we make the 'right' choice.