Redefining Your Situations: The Sure Way To Turn Your Pain To Gain

Sundar Pichai,  an IIT-MIT Alumnus and Global Head, Google Chrome once gave a story commonly known as the cockroach theory . It goes this way:

“At a restaurant, a cockroach suddenly flew up from the ground and landed on a lady who immediately started screaming out of fear. With a panic stricken face and trembling voice, she started jumping, with both her hands desperately trying to get rid of the cockroach. Her reaction was contagious, as everyone in her group also got panicky. She finally managed to push the cockroach away but… it landed on another woman in the group. Now, it was her turn to continue the drama. Hearing the commotion, their waiter rushed forward to the rescue. In the relay of throwing the cockroach from lady to lady, it finally landed on the waiter’s shoulder. The waiter stood firm, composed himself and observed the behaviour of the cockroach on her shirt. When she was confident enough, he grabbed it with his fingers and threw it out of the restaurant.”

Yes, it was indeed a scene of commotion until the wait surfaced. Now, let me ask; what was the actual cause of the commotion? Would you say it’s really the cockroach?

Without doubt, the uproar was never caused by the cockroach, but by the reaction of the people in the restaurant. The first lady the cockroach landed on together with the rest persons, and the waiter who came in and finally restored peace by killing the cockroach, reacted to the situation differently. In other words, they both defined the situation in different ways.

Similarly, in life, it is not the challenge (or pain) we face that determines our success or failure, but our response or reaction to it. Again I say, it is not the situations we encounter that really determine our ultimate success or failure, but rather, it is the definition or meaning that we give to the situation.

Hence, Charles R. Swindoll said, “I’m convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.” 

Having established that, I let you know; pain is a reality of life. For every gain, there is a corresponding pain to bear. So, to get the gain you desire, you’ve got to confront the pain with the right response or attitude. This is a hard truth; yes, it is and it takes only the determined hearts and optimists to accept. Great and successful people know that the pathway with no obstacles lead to nowhere worth going, therefore, they are not discouraged when facing pains. They don’t allow the little cockroaches of life to disorganize them. In the midst of any disturbing cockroach, they compose themselves, gather up confidence and smash it to death, and move on to realize their God-given purpose.

The cockroaches of life represent the challenges or the things that give you pains in life. And these pains come in different forms. There is emotional pain caused by rejection or criticism e.g. losing a relationship. There is the pain of lack; not having the means to get what you need e.g. living in hunger for lack of money – not being able to pay the bills. There is the pain of failure – not being able to pass your exams, interview, etc. There is also the pain of sickness, etc. But do you know that none of these pains has the power to cause commotion or confusion in your life except you allow it?

In the Cockroach theory, the same kind of challenge befell two different persons, (the lady with her group, and the waiter). But they both got different results. Why?

It is their definition of the challenge, problem, pain or whatever you may choose to call it. While the former defined the situation in one way, the latter defined it in another way. Put differently, the waiter redefined the situation by his attitude towards it.

You may say, “Daniel, you don’t know what I’m facing. If you do, you won’t blame me for my reaction.” Come on! You’re not alone. Others have been there before and they were able to go through without compromising or being beaten down.

I agree with you that it is not easy going through any of these pains, but victory is possible. If others could succeed in the midst of their untold challenges, obviously you can also. It only requires giving the situation the right response by REDEFINING the pain. And in doing so, your pain is turned to gain.

Knowing this truth is key to getting the best out of every worst situation you face as you journey through the path of life.

As naturally designed, everyone has the power to make his/her life more fulfilling and better than what it is presently. You are what you are today not really because of the problems you face, but largely because of the definition, the meaning you gave to them. That is, how you see them, feel about them and finally how you react or respond to them.

When You Have Done All You Could And All Hope Seem To Be Gone

I say to you; redefine your situations. This is the sure way to turn your pain to gain. If you are not deriving joy from a situation; if what you are going through is not making life better for you, then it shows you are not giving it the right definition; you are seeing it and reacting to it in the wrong way. And to change this, you have to redefine it; give it another meaning. Yes, this is what you have to do!

Now the question is, how do you redefine a situation such that it gives you the best of result rather than the worst – stealing your happiness and strength to move on in life?

It is simply by changing your mindset – the way you see things. Redefining your situation involves turning your negative thoughts into positive ones. It is seeing your dead-ends as new beginnings, mistakes as a necessary process to learn and get better, failure as another opportunity to try again, delay as opportunity to learn attitude of patience and prove your trust in God, etc.

No matter what you are currently going through, in your world (personal, business, marriage, academics, ministry or relationship) today, redefine the situation. Give it a positive meaning in feelings, response, and you will see that the final result will be total peace and happiness.

Are you currently sad or stuck in a rot because of a broken relationship, a lost job, a rejection, lack, a betrayal from a trusted friend, failure in academics, barrenness, or what have you? Come on! Probably, you are giving your situation a wrong definition. It is high time you changed it.

Do you know that many of the negative definitions we give to situations in our lives could have been turned into positive ones, and we would have been happier and better? Yes of course! You can actually get joy from that situation that is making you sad; you can be fulfilled in that issue that is getting you frustrated. But the only way to do this is by redefining the issue.

I want you to realize that pain brings out the best in you. See 5 ways your worst experience could bring out the best in you.

Remember gold; it becomes gold for its ability to redefine the pain of the furnace (fierce fire) it is subjected to. And it is never the same after going through the process of severe heating. In the same way, when you pass through a challenge without you giving up, or breaking your values or promises to God, you never remain the same. You become a happy and better person than you were. Take that pain as a learning or grooming process. See what you have left (what is remaining) and not what you have lost. Look beyond the red sea and see your promise land. Turn your mess to a message. Focus on the gainful end and not the painful process. Believe that God cannot break His word. Think of the people it will help to survive and press on.

Learn the lessons. Are you learning the lessons? Why did it happen? Find out the ‘why’ and work to correct it so that it does not happen again. Having fallen into a river, become a bridge to others who are going through that same river.

In closing, know that success or happiness in life is not the fruit of what happens to us but how we see and respond to what happens to us. The power to succeed and be happy is in your hand. Nobody or situation can put you down unless you permit it. It is a choice only you have to make. Choose today to be happy and better by positively redefining the situations of life as they come your way. This is the sure way to turn your pain to gain.

Are you presently going through any pain in your life? Apart from this strategy given here, how have you been handling it?

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