No Pain, No Gain

You know those invisible fences that provide a shock to the dog who isn’t supposed to cross the fence boundaries? The dog has to experience some discomfort to learn where he can and cannot go.

Dogs aren’t the only ones. Humans learn by trial and error, falling off and getting back up, crashing and healing. Seems there are certain lessons we can only learn by failing.

In education, we try to take the pain out of learning, but since pain is subjective, it ultimately depends on the student, teacher and the subject. In contrast, we do know that positive emotion fuels learning, so feeling good also helps us to learn and grow.

Pain. Pleasure.   Yin and yang. One not possible without the other. Each are adaptive, helping us to better understand ourselves and our world.

One of the reasons I write this blog is that part of me hopes that my hard-earned lessons are helpful and will reduce the pain of learning for others.   But, and I apologize for the analogy, it’s akin to me telling you where the borders of the fence are so you don’t get shocked. In the end, what will you really need to do?

At the minimum, I hope that once the shock happened, it will be less of a surprise, and you will bounce back and learn from the experience more quickly if you knew what to expect in advance. In the end, I’m afraid that regardless of the advance prep, we each have to test the limits of ourselves and the world, one shock at a time.

I’m continuing to learn my own, hard-earned lessons every day. I know there’s that freakin’ fence, but some days I can’t even figure out its dimensions or the rules to avoid getting shocked. That’s OK. You’ve warned me so at least I know I’m not alone.

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