Do You Make Pain Your Reintegration Ally?

2-½ minutes to read

As many as a hundred and fifty sailors come through WTP Sembach each week. Few had an easy time during deployment. The heat and austere operating environment challenged them. Sometimes they had to toughen themselves to substandard leadership. You can quit a civilian job. But you can't quit deployment. At least not without leaving the military on bad terms. Such physical and emotional pain exposes weaknesses…

How to Use Pain to Overcome Transition Hurdles

The Power of Pain

The Navy deploys many sailors to Bahrain, home of the U.S. 5th Fleet. Those who go to Manama live in high-quality hotels, eat good food, and have access to lots of amenities.

But the sailors assigned to Isa Air Base live a Spartan existence. The heat is often unbearable. A few weeks ago, the air conditioning in working dog’s kennel broke. When discovered three hours later, the animal was close to death. With no veterinarian on base, a human medical team responded. Despite valiant efforts, the dog died.

Though it may sound trivial, the loss of this canine hit people hard. It traumatized more than one of the medical team. It desolated a young woman who visited the dogs to maintain her resilience. Bureaucracy moves slowly. But policy for checking on military dogs changed overnight as a result of this incident.

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Pain has enormous power to drive change. It also has the ability to freeze a person as he is.

4 Steps to Using Pain for Gain

When in a painful situation, you can respond in two ways. Most people seek to free themselves from pain. The sooner they get relief the better. In doing so, they fail to take advantage of pain’s ability to help them.

Athletes know how to benefit from pain. They create training plans that push beyond their limits. Increasing strength and endurance requires suffering sore muscles and joints. In the crucible of intentional discomfort, they progress toward their goals.

Pain can strengthen your mind and spirit too. Such changes usually come through random events. But you can create a training regimen to adapt your identity, build up mental acuity, and toughen your spirit.

If a basketball player chokes when throwing free throws, he’ll practice them until it hurts. He’ll analyze every movement of his body. With painstaking precision, he’ll determine where he’s failing. Then he’ll drill himself to correct these flaws.

Life transitions are filled with mental and spiritual challenges. Train to overcome them like an athlete would:

1. Pinpoint Your Shortcomings. Is your identity holding you back? Do you get tongue-tied when asking the hiring manager for the job? When you get too many rejections in a day does your spirit let you stop job-hunting? Find your weaknesses by asking hiring managers who didn't give you a job. Talk with a transition coach.

2. Own Them. You won't endure the pain of change if you convince yourself everything is okay. Don't beat yourself up. Acknowledge where you need to grow.

3. Make a Training Plan. Develop a blueprint to strengthen your weak points. It's best in a controlled situation. Partner with another veteran. Brainstorm ways to overcome your obstacles. Practice them. Get feedback. Work with a coach. If necessary, use actual meetings to train. Some meetings for a job don't go well. Use them as exercises to build your abilities. Have a couple of strategies ready to try and see how it goes. What have you got to lose?

4. Push to the Pain Point. Make sure your plan takes you beyond your comfort zone. Don't injure your mind or spirit. But use pain as a tool to embed change.

Competition in the private sector is fierce. We win in combat by out training the enemy. Adapt the same strategy for reintegrating to civilian life. Use pain to gain.

Who can you partner with to train for your transition?

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© , Kevin S. Bemel, All Rights Reserved

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