Are You Over-Exaggerating the Difficulty of Personal Transformation?

Ryan Gottfredson

by Ryan Gottfredson

Stubborn Kid

I have two pulled muscles: one physical and one emotional.

I want to share my experience rehabbing both, and an important lesson I learned that has huge implications for our personal growth and development.

When I work with individuals on improving their mindsets, I see two general reactions. First, and most common, is that they justify away their mindsets. They are unable to sit with their newfound knowledge and inspect whether they, in fact, see the world in less-than-optimal ways.

Second, if they able to sit with their findings, a common response is that they believe that working on and shifting their mindsets is too difficult, even unsurmountable.

I want to share two recent experiences that have helped me see that we often make personal transformation and change, particularly around our mindsets, more difficult than it needs to be.

Physical Pulled Muscle

A few months ago, I pulled a muscle in my calf while running. This has happened in the past. When it has happened, I generally avoid running for a couple of weeks and then it is good to go.

I must officially be old because this time I stayed off it for a couple of weeks, and then when I went running again, I quickly reaggravated the injury. This process has continued for over two months. Finally, I decided to meet with a physical therapist.

This last Tuesday was my first visit with the therapist. We started with exercises and stretches. Then, the therapist had me lay on my stomach while did several deep tissue massages.

I saw this coming, and I knew it would be painful. Going into the appointment, I was willing to go through pain in order to get better. I knew that pain would be required for healing to occur.

Let me tell you something… It was so much more painful than I anticipated. I legitimately felt like I was getting tortured. (And, I think I have a pretty high pain tolerance.)

I got up after he was done and there was a huge sweat mark all over where I was laying.

And guess what, I thanked the therapist afterwards.

In the days that followed, my calf was incredibly sore. I could barely touch it and I felt pain in every step. But, I could tell it was a “good pain.”

Emotional Pulled Muscle

Over the last 18 months, my life has become increasingly busy. As a result of that and related factors. My wife and I have realized that we have a pulled muscle between us that needs a bit of rehabbing.

While there is much good in our relationship, this pulled muscle was causing nagging pain, and something that we felt we needed help working out.

So, on the same day as my physical therapy, my wife and I met with a marriage therapist.

During the session, our therapist did a good job of diving into the areas where there was pain, similar to my physical therapist.

As we dug, I was awakened to my role in the cause of the pain that I was unaware of before. I was faced with an option:

  • Justify away my perspective and respective actions
  • Own up to my sub-optimal perspective and respective actions

While it was emotionally painful to swallow, I owned up to my mistaken perspective and related actions, and admitted my fault.

It was deflating, humbling, and a hit to my ego.

And, just like my physical therapy, it has left me a little sore since then.

But, I can feel that healing is happening. I can tell it is a “good pain.”

Reflecting Upon this Experience

Before My Day of Therapy

If you would have asked me before this day, which pain would I rather feel, physical pain or emotional pain, I would have quickly said “physical pain.” I have been there, I know what it was going to feel like, I knew I could tolerate it, and I knew I would be better because of it.

Emotional pain is more foreign to me, and has largely appeared scary, heavy, and daunting.

After My Day of Therapy

But now, if you were to ask me to reflect on those experiences, and ask which one I would prefer to go through again, I have to answer differently.

Although I found both painful, the physical therapy was significantly more painful.  

Further, although I found both beneficial, the emotional therapy was much more fulfilling and rewarding. This was because I walked away from that therapy feeling as though I had learned something. I had grown. I had been given an invitation to become a better person. To me, that is much more meaningful than being able to run a few miles (although I do value that).

My Takeaway

I shouldn’t be so fearful of working through things that may cause emotional or ego-related pain. While it isn’t the easiest thing in the world, it is doable, not as bad as expected, and the results are incredibly meaningful.

Looking at it another way: What is at stake? Only a brighter future.

My Hope for You

I hope that you will learn from my experience and become more willing to:

  • Open yourself up to work on yourself
  • Open yourself to seeing how your best intentions may not always be productive
  • Allow yourself to admit that you might have been wrong.
  • Dig into the pain in order that you might heal your soul, your being.

I believe that by doing this work, you will become a better person, a more positive influence in the lives of others, and a true leader.

You can start this process by awakening to your mindsets, or the mental lenses that you view the world, by taking my free mindset assessment:

Awaken to the Quality of Your Mindsets
Join over 30,000 others who have taken the most comprehensive mindset assessment available.

You may find that how you see your world is not the best way to see the world, and that your mindsets are holding you back. If that is the case, you stand in good company (95% of people who have taken the assessment have some mindset work to do, myself included).

Once you have awaken to your mindsets, you must do a “deep-tissue massage” that may not be fun. But, you will get better and stronger, just like with physical rehabilitation. The only other option is to continue to put up with something that is hampering your success.

In case you are interested. Here are some other articles on personal transformation and change:

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