Cliché # 2: No Pain, No Gain
Beware of clichés that could easily transform into limiting beliefs.
This phrase, “Without pains, no gains” can be dated back in the 1500s. Some of the earliest people who coined this phrase were lining it up with resilience, and becoming psychologically stronger as we go through pain, and how we can learn from setbacks. It is often associated with athletic and gym coaches who urge their trainees to work harder to get stronger, faster, and to develop prominent body features (like big muscles or developed abs). This talks about how most success comes with struggle, and it gives a sense that in this world there would be a mixture of pain and joy.
The limiting belief with this phrase comes in when we try to apply it to every accomplishment in our lives, even those that we think are little. This is what happens most of the time. We will get something to be joyful about, we will allow that joy to pass by because we didn’t have to go through pain to get that or because we think it was simple to get. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” He knows the future, and his plans for us are good and full of hope. This doesn’t mean that we will not have pain or hardship, but that He will see us through to a glorious conclusion.
You deserve to enjoy victories and blessings even if they come by easy without any pain at all. You don’t have to have your body beaten up, face red or all sweaty before you can accept that you have achieved something.
We do this most of the time, and we don’t even notice it. We apply it to even when people try to give us a compliment for what we have done or accomplished. For example, I will try to positively commend a friend for baking a basic vanilla cake that tasted so good, and they will casually, say “Haa, that was so easy. I just put in the flour, added some water and put it in the oven, and Voila, the cake was done.” Then I will normally reply with some questions, “Wow, how long did it take in the oven? How much sugar and water did you add? What about the frosting on top?”
Then they will go, “Oh, yes, it took like 1 hour in the oven, 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature, 3 cups all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 1/4 cups sugar, 4 large eggs, at room temperature, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, 3/4 cup heavy cream mixed with 1/2 cup water.” Then I will say, wow! That was a lot of work on it. Please just accept the compliment. You measured each of those ingredients, and that took time, patience and perseverance. Accept the compliment, and don’t ignore it because you do not physically have bruises and scars on your body as a result of baking the cake. Accept the joy from your accomplishment, and don’t snob it because of the “No pain, No gain” notion.
You don’t always have to get pain before you can recognize your accomplishments. Don’t limit the joy you can get from being acknowledged even in the small things. It gladdens the heart of your creator that you have nicely used the skills, potential, and knowledge He gave you to the point that someone has noticed it.
It’s not about pride or lack of humility. It’s about acknowledging your God’s given gifts. It is simple to say, “Thank you for noticing.” It is a skill you have, and you are putting it to a use that will bless yourself and others. It becomes the lack of humility when you allow it to go into your head and start boasting about it and perceiving yourself as the only capable person. But it doesn’t hurt to say thank you when someone notices your work. Don’t try to pull down yourself. Remember, we are to have a high opinion of others and a high opinion of ourselves. Romans 15:2 says, “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.”
In as much as many things don’t come by so easily, there are also those many things and blessings that do not come by hard or through pain and suffering at all. Those many blessings that we get every day that we don’t struggle for, we don’t ask for or even expect them. We are to recognize those blessings, and we are to be grateful for them even though we do not have to go through pain to get them.
When we don’t allow ourselves to be limited by the “No pain, No Gain” notion, (a) we will unleash joy in both small and big things, (b) we will frequently unleash joy in the moments, (c) we will rapidly cultivate the attitude to recognize all blessings around us every day, (d) we will become more grateful and accept compliment from people, and this will unleash the joy within you and them, (e) we can also expand the joy of others as they notice our work, and this can further increase our inner joy, and (f) we will notice our strengths and build upon them, and we will be encouraged to see the progress we are making even if it’s small. It shows that: You have the belief and skill that you CAN do something. You have the motivation and desire to WANT to do it. And, you are sufficiently courageous to spring into action to DO it. You are awesome!
So, don’t limit your joy. Celebrate little victories that you get even when they don’t come with pain. You deserve them, and accept compliments from others, and be grateful for them. You, your gifts, possession are all God’s gifts and blessings to you. What you decide to do with them, how you choose to use them- for your benefit, for the benefit of others, and for God’s glory – will be your gifts back to God.