Pain: Motivator or Deterrent?

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Pain: Motivator or Deterrent?

We read this sign as we entered S-21, the prison where Pol-Pot & the Khmer Rouge imprisoned, tortured and killed about 1 – 3 million Cambodians, approximately 25% of the total population.

As I read the “Regulations” I try to imagine what would go through my mind if I were a prisoner. I see pictures of what they endured. I ask myself, would these rules motivate me to do what they say, not because I feared the punishment, but with the hope of living and someday escaping? Or would it deter me from abiding by these rules because I felt hopeless and defeated, feeling like I wouldn’t succeed anyway?

Although it may not seem to be life and death, there are many events that occur in our daily lives that should be considered in a similar fashion.

No, it doesn’t appear that we are in a situation where we will experience terrible electric shocks or hang by our hands with our arms behind our backs until we pass out. These things are inhumane and disturbing at best.

BUT, what will the end result be in trying to ignore the things in our life that should be a priority? It certainly is not as acute or terrifying as what the Cambodians experienced but keeping that top of mind we have to decide what motivates us and what deters us if we know the ultimate price may be painful.

Would you read the “Regulations”, whatever those may be in your life and agree that your motivation to stay within those boundaries are worth living a full, satisfying, healthy life? Or are you deterred by the outcomes you have experienced so far and feel hopeless and defeated?

I want to encourage you that no matter where you are in your diabetes management or that of the one you love, there is always a reason to stay motivated. Move past the pain and look forward to what you want in life.

I urge you to start day dreaming. If you need to step away from your situation to do this, go for a walk, sit in a park, go to the library or book store. Visualize the final outcome. Take a piece of paper and write a letter to yourself like you would another person you care very much about. Explain to yourself the pain you are experiencing, the struggles you are feeling. In detail, describe what you want for yourself. List the steps on how you are going to get there and the length of time, short and long term. When you are going to get there? Take an envelope with a stamp and address it to yourself. Drop it in the mailbox. In a few days when you get it, read it, store it somewhere safe where you can pull it out and refer to it and act on it.

I met a man at the S-21 Prison in Cambodia, one of the last survivors. He wrote a book about his experience. I sat down beside this man and wondered how he could be so strong after enduring so much. Here he was, an old man, smiling, sitting in the same place that caused him so much pain. In his hand was the book he wrote. I imagine how difficult it must’ve been for him to write it. Recalling not just the pain he endured, but hearing people screaming and begging for mercy as they too were tortured and killed. Why would he want to write a book, sit at the place that he should never want to see again? Even in his old age it was apparent to me that the pain he endured did not deter him from the motivation to live life and be heard.

How do you want to live your life and what do you want to say? What will motivate you through those moments of pain?