It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?
-Henry David Thoreau
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Ready to Escape the Pain

There’s a reason I don’t sell gift certificates generally.  Never mind that some people would be mortally offended to be given a gift of a professional organizer, it would be a waste of money unless the person was ready.  They need to decide there’s a better way and to make the effort to change.  If I only had a magic wand, this could be different, maybe.  When we pause to consider that someone has to be ready to make changes otherwise nothing else will make a long-term difference, we can see how true it is.  The first step is that when the pain becomes too great, we’re inspired to figure out alternatives.

My husband and I have had long interesting conversations about pain.  Generally you hear how having a high pain tolerance is a good thing, “it makes you stronger.”  I know I associate the idea of a high pain tolerance with resiliency; the strength to make it through whatever comes my way.  And we’ve come the conclusion that for many things we have a low tolerance for pain.

Consider the person who is constantly losing their keys, phone, purse, wallet, etc.  I have a friend who struggles with this and they race around in some degree of panic searching – eventually finding whatever it was and moving along with their day.  And it happens again and again; and yet it seems normal to them, it’s just how it is.

Then there’s other people who’ve lost their keys or whatever, get frustrated, and decide to do things differently – they get determined.  They make a decision for how to avoid it happening and begin to implement that change.  It doesn’t get fixed overnight and it doesn’t mean that it never happens again.  Yet, it does mean that it’s more of a rare occurrence rather than a common one.

The second example is someone with a low pain tolerance.  The “pain” of losing that item is too great to simply continue in the same way – it instigates the desire for change.  The frustration or annoyance is greater than the challenge of finding a new way of doing something and making that new system work.  This includes failing and faltering along the way to the new system, yet determined to avoid the pain of lost keys with any frequency.

The frustration of a spouse, parent, or sibling is fairly irrelevant – the pain has to be yours if true lasting changes are going to be made.  And that’s not to say that the frustration of a loved one isn’t motivating, but it can spur movement that is short-lived.  Consider the example of alcoholics – the person needs to make the decision on their own to change otherwise they’ll return to drinking.  The impetus for change wasn’t coming from within.  The context is irrelevant, the person needs to reach the point where they want things to be different, better.

Let me be perfectly clear – we all live our lives the best we can.  If you are someone who loses your keys regularly and haven’t done anything about it, that’s fine – there is no one right way.  People can lead great lives while constantly losing their keys, although they might be frustrating their spouse. :)  That’s not the point.  If YOU don’t mind losing your keys, what would motivate you to change that?

As I’ve touched on before, facing changes can be challenging, even when they’re wanted (or positive).  Therefore, when the risk of doing something different is less painful than staying the same – we embark on the process of finding better ways.  It might well even be a process of 2 steps forward, 1 step back – it’s a journey into unfamiliar territory.  It’s also a way to learn about yourself and discover that having a low pain tolerance makes you strong.

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