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How Pain Prompted Me To Be A Lifelong Learner

I was awake until 5 AM, this Saturday morning. I was reading a book entitled “Principles” by Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater, an American billionaire investor, hedge fund manager, and philanthropist. In the earlier sections of “Where I’m Coming From,” he said that there is nothing to prompt learning like pain and necessity, and this gave me plenty of both.”  This is based on his personal narrative on how he bravely faced failures and pains while building his company over the years, along with his struggles with family and friends. I paused my reading for a while to reflect and I realized that it resonates well on what I am experiencing in life, not that extensive but somehow I can relate to it. Thus, I thought of writing this reflection.

Based on research, emotional pain is deeper compared to physical pain which heals easily. I will share my thoughts more on my personal experiences with emotional pain which caused me to experience deep depression and how it pushed me to further learn and improve myself (and I think necessity is be self-explanatory.) According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 300 million people are living with depression and it is the leading cause of various illness, especially mental illness. Depression is still a taboo and is considered a very personal topic. I would like to share with you three sources of emotional pain I experienced and how I cope with depression.

  1. Pain From Rejection. I think this is the most common emotional pain I experienced. Rejection comes in many scenarios like the rejection of love (unrequited love) for example. Personally, unrequited love is the most painful pain I dealt with. It took time for me to move on in what I assumed a mutual feeling. It took me a while to channel this pain to a different activity like book reading. Book reading was not really my usual activity until a friend suggested me to read a self-help book to keep myself busy and discover more about myself. It then became a passion. Now, it is not just a pastime but a way to keep learning on different topics like economics, politics, and war which I currently like reading. Reading taught me to be more emphatic towards others and to myself. It also improved my listening skill.
  2. Pain From Broken Relationship. Some say if you have friends and remained good friends for more than five years, you will be friends for life, which is true I believe. I have friends from college days and we are still very good friends until now. But we can’t avoid conflicts and misunderstandings from time to time. Sadly, one of my best friends and I had a conflict a couple of years ago, I was so devasted and felt so bad about it. It took me months to recover until I put the issue aside until I got busy with life. We did not talk for three years. Until recently, I decided to reach out again to say sorry and admitted that I was wrong. After some introspection, which took time I suppose, I came to realize that we have so many good memories together that I want to treasure. Indeed this is part of growing up pains. This experience gave me the opportunity to assess my values in life, which to live a joyful life moving forward. In this journey, I also focused on developing my interests and skill in oil painting. I like pouring my emotions on a canvas.
  3. Pain From Failure. I attempted to be an entrepreneur for a couple of times and I failed miserably. I also failed to get a job opportunity that I really wanted. When I reached out to the interviewer, the country manager of an international company based in the Philippines, he said that I came in short since they awarded the role to a candidate with MBA. We had a good number of interviews and I really thought I was going to get the role. These two failures prompted to really pursue business school where I learned the language of business in its entirety. Whichever path I will choose, I think I am prepared and more confident to strive strategically. Ah yes, another thing — confidence is good but always lower your expectations to avoid this pain moving forward! =D

Healing takes time. We also need to practice acceptance. We need to develop and discover our core values in life because I believe this will serve as our compass in whatever challenges we will face in life. If you don’t have strong values, you will easily fall prey to depression and we all know the effects will be bad.

Depression is controllable. It is purely bad emotions not managed well. If we can tame it and channel our focus to good things, then we can achieve our dreams and can ultimately help discover our purpose in life. There is beauty in emotional pain, learn how to embrace and learn from it, take advantage of it but don’t let it manage you. 😉

And yes, don’t forget to reach out to your friends and family and talk about it. There is no harm in reaching out and to ask for help. =)

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