Is Your Pain a Burden, or a Gift?

Written on Saturday, November 6th, 2010 at 6:32 pm by Liz
Filed under Lifestyle, Sharing Success.

Much has been said about pain being powerful – how it can heal us and turn us into better human beings.  Or how pain can “purify” our souls and help us emerge as someone reborn.  Notwithstanding the agony of it all, we can choose to channel our pain into something positive – turn it into creative energy or a life-changing moment. 

No one goes through life without pain, may it be physical or emotional.  It’s how one sees it that makes the difference.  It’s a deliberate choice and a conscious decision.  Is my pain a burden, or a gift?

Sean Stephenson chose to see his pain as a gift.  Born with a disorder called osteogenesis imperfecta, a severely painful condition that made his bones so brittle even simple cough can cause his ribs to break.  His bone structure was so fragile that he would only reach up to three feet tall, would not be able to walk, and live his life on a wheelchair.  Sean endured 200 bone fractures and his daily life was filled with pain and suffering.  Now 30-years old, this little man is truly a giant of inspiration.  His story, and how he chose to live his life, humbles me whenever I look back at moments when I chose to curl up and indulge in self-pity.  Sean teaches us how not to make excuses for life’s woes and instead get off our “BUTs” and triumph through life “STANDING” up. <g>

In the February cover article of Healthy, Wealthy n’ Wise, Janet Attwood is given the privilege to listen to how Sean Stephenson took a stand early on in his pain ridden existence.  Sean Stephenson – Three-Foot Giant of Inspiration shares with us how he came to see his pain as a gift instead of a burden, and how he realized that this was his personal mission in life.

I found Sean’s words truly thought-provoking and inspiring.  His example prompted me to reassess my own views on hardships and suffering.  Next on my “to-read” list is his book Get Off Your “But”:  How to End Self-Sabotage & Stand Up for Yourself .   For Sean, most of us keep ourselves from living a full life because we sabotage ourselves.  Sean’s book lists 6 lessons that can help us change all this. 

 No magic fairy dust

Sean is realistic in saying that he didn’t pop out of his mother’s womb with an automatic positive attitude.  He had to go through the different emotional levels of anger, self-pity and depression.

 Just like many of us, the problems we bear bring us through a variety of emotions that when remain unchecked, can turn us into angry, bitter, negative people.  Our life should be “in spite of” and “despite of”.  Problems will always be there, it’s a matter of choosing an outlook that will help us get through.  Sean woke up each day making a conscious choice, “Today am I going to commit to a life of happiness, or am I going to commit to a life of struggle”?

 Life does not pepper us with magic fairy dust so we can live “happily ever after”.  People’s problems and struggles are presented in different situations and different levels.  It’s the conscious decision to commit to a life of happiness, in spite of it all, that will make our burdens and pain so much more bearable. <g>

 A choice between a burden or a gift

For Sean, the turning point in his life was on Halloween when he was in 4th grade.  Looking forward to going out in costume and for one day, “being just like everyone else, he broke his femur on his way out through the door and suffered excruciating pain.  His mom tried her best to console him but his anger shone through his eyes.  It was then that his asked the question, “Is this, -’this’ being my condition, going to be a gift or a burden in your life?” 

It was during this time it all became clear to Sean – he loved his life even with all that pain, he was happy to be alive.  He chose to see his pain as a gift.

What is your life’s mission?

…And decided to make teaching the rest of the human race how to love their life amidst their pain his life’s mission.

Many of us go through life not having any idea what on earth we’re here for.  <g>  I found mine when Ric and I agreed to see what else is out there, and share everything we know and will still learn on how to make the world a better place for all of us. <g>

I take my roles seriously and those are as a wife, a mother, an entrepreneur and a teacher.  I give my all when it comes to fulfilling these roles, and I find that life has been very interesting and satisfying.  I keep it simple.  I know life’s purpose; I know the reasons why I’m here.

Do you?

Get Off Your “But”  

Sean’s book talks about 6 life lessons that he wants to impart to the rest of the world.  First of all, he tells us to choose our environment, to surround ourselves with people and activity that can only be good for us.  It is during our most trying and difficult times that we turn to our friends and neighbors and also the time that we are at our most vulnerable.  The prudent choice then would be positive and supportive people.

This is one reminder that I constantly give to my sons Chandler & Stefan.  I tell them to choose their friends well – the kind who will influence them to do good and become better individuals.  I encourage them to devote their free time in activity that will enhance both their physical and mental well-beings.  Environment is key to a positive attitude, and when the going gets tough, it is the same environment we’re in that will carry us through.

Be your own best friend

Another lesson that Sean shared in his talk with Janet is to be kind to yourself.  Sean says that who we are is two-fold – what we say on the outside and what we say on the inside.  “The world can think you’re so positive, loving, and dedicated because of what you keep saying and doing on the outside.  If on the inside you’re beating yourself up, tearing yourself down, saying you’re not enough, and you go to bed with your head on the pillow with your worst enemy talking in your ear, that’s not right. That’s not healthy, good, or acceptable.”

Whether we are aware of it or not, our harshest critic can be our own selves.  We tend to give ourselves impossibly high standards and we’re the first one to be secretly disappointed when these standards are unmet.  No matter if the rest of the world thought we did a good job or have praised us in our efforts.  Our competitive natures seek to improve ourselves further and higher.

Yes, we can be our own worst enemy, but we can also be our own best friend.  Don’t be too hard on yourself – love yourself, believe in YOU.

Sean’s book talks of 4 more life lessons that can help us stop sabotaging ourselves and our self-esteem.  Take it from a person whom the medical community said would not live for long, who suffered agonizing pain every day, and yet, sees everything in his life as a gift.  You can download the full audio version of Janet’s interview with Sean Stephenson here. <g>

Get off your butt, people, no more excuses! <g>

Make your everyday a gift of life!

Image by: Danilo Rizzuti /

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