Pushing Limits: Take Control of Your Pain

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Ok friends, here’s the thing. I’m not an athlete. At all. The closest I have come is getting on a treadmill and walking “briskly” 3x per week with an occasional dance party thrown in.

For some reason, unbeknownst to me, I felt the need to enroll in and run a 5k, which I did yesterday. Today, I started training and actually pushing myself during a workout. But what a workout! I’m sweaty and gross, but I learned so much in that short half hour!

Truth be told, I learned a lot at the 15 min mark to the end of my workout.

Part of the reason I am no athlete is because I have always had knee problems. I am knock-kneed which has created a few other issues as I’ve gotten older. Sometimes it just hurts to do what other people are doing, even if it is pretty mild. Most people have no idea I am knock-kneed or even know what it is until I demonstrate.

Stay with me, I promise this has a point and it’s a good one!

I also run kinda funny because I have short toes. And when I say short, I mean only my big toe and the one next to it can actually touch the ground if I am standing flat footed. So for balance, I stand on the outside of my feet so all my toes touch the ground, which means I have successfully worsened both my ankles and knees.

I have always played things safe and avoided pain, especially in regards to physical activity.

Suddenly, I am signed up for a 5k in 6 weeks and have to start pushing myself. So I slightly sped up my brisk walk to a fast walk, and picked up a book to distract myself. (Which worked well for me, by the way, but I’ve also been walking and reading for over 25 years, so be cautious if you do try, ok?)

Here’s where things get good!

The Connection Between Shame and Control

First of all, the book I was reading is Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly. While reading, I came across this gem,

“The less we talk about shame, the more control it has over our lives.”

Now remember, I’m the one advocating about how to take control of our lives and to realize our self worth and the potential we have to do great things.

We can’t do that if we are constantly ashamed. Ashamed of who we are, the things we do, etc. Eradicating shame is a difficult task. It’s taken me years to get to where I am, and I still feel shame. A lot.

While that shame comes from a desire to be better and to do better, I also have a tendency to think that has to happen right now. Good news! I’m wrong!

We don’t have to obtain perfection right now. Or in a few months. Not even in several years or decades. It comes one workout at a time. I can’t expect to run a 5k just because I decide to do one. I have to train, practice and work for it, no matter what comes.

I choose to take control of my life and not give that control to any shame. I don’t care how well I actually do when I run this 5k. It’s my first time.

All I have to do is my best, then train to be just a little bit better for the next one.

Wanna hear the funny part? That “no matter what comes” part came much sooner than I expected it to. Remember those problems I mentioned earlier? Of course they would strike in the middle of an awesome epiphany like that.

Roadblocks and Pain

My knee suddenly started hurting. A lot. As in I started to limp just 15 minutes in to this workout.

Something else you should know about me, I can be ridiculously stubborn. I was NOT about to stop working out only 15 minutes in. Especially with a 5k coming up. It’s only day 1 and I was not about to give up already!

One of my favorite quotes and recent mantra is by a friend and mentor, Richie Norton, who said, “Don’t get discouraged, get creative.”

So if I wanted to keep going, I need to figure out how to stop limping. Remember the weird foot thing I mentioned earlier? I wanted to see what would if happen if I walked “normal” without making all of my toes touch. I started walking on the insides of my feet.

Tell you what, that felt incredibly awkward. But the limping stopped. My knee pain went away almost as quickly as it came. I had to put the book down to focus on walking differently, but in a way that is overall a little bit healthier for me.

To take control, we have to be the one to find a solution. We can’t stop. We can’t wait for someone else to tell us how to fix things. Being in control means we make the decisions.

So there I am, all proud of myself, awkward as I may feel, when a new type of pain hits. This time in my feet.

The crazy thing is, I wasn’t limping with this pain. This pain was different. Whoa, hold the phone. Different. Types. Of. Pain?

The Two Types of Pain

So what was this? My knee pain was my body warning me of danger. As in, “This is not good and something needs to change” type of pain.

Our bodies are naturally built to provide pain to warn us that something needs to change and fast because we are in danger in some way. We know this type of pain and we do anything we can to prevent it. But this is not all types of pain.

The other type of pain is the kind I felt in my feet. It was me using muscles I haven’t used before. This pain was a growth kind of pain. They feel different. This was a good kind of pain. Yes it was hard, but I was able to keep going. This is a pain that I can push through, because it will make me better.

We get both kinds of pain, not just physically, but emotionally, too. We have some pain that are a warning sign telling us to stop, this is not healthy. We have pain associated with growth.

Can you tell the difference?

It’s not easy. I’m not right every time. It’s something I can’t perfect, but that is ok. It is called taking a risk. Sometimes I’m right and sometimes I’m wrong.

Be Vulnerable & Choose Your Risk

Ironically, that kind of brings us back full circle to the book I was reading.

Daring Greatly is about vulnerability. Vulnerability is the capability to experience pain. Sometimes it’s a good pain, sometimes it’s not.

No matter what kind of pain it is, we are the ones who decide to move forward or to back down. Make your choice and stand behind it. While we may not have control of the outcome, there is still control of the choices we make and the attitude we take.


No matter where we are in life, whether it be during those awesome times when things go right for a bit or during the down time that nothing seems to give you even in inch of wiggle room, we always have choices. You always choose your attitude, and you choose your own actions.

If you are feeling stuck, who are you giving your control to? You might argue that you have no choice in the matter, but you do. You just don’t like the other options as well.

The other options are hard. Scary. Terrifying even. Maybe they seem unrealistic. They are, however, still options you are not choosing.

When you face something thinking you have no choice and let that slide, who or what are you giving your control to? You aren’t giving away your choices. You are choosing to let that control go, even if that happens by inaction. Inaction is also a choice.

Sometimes you are going to have pain either way. The question is, what kind of pain will it be? Growth pain or danger pain?

Make the decision to take back control of your life with your choices.

You always have a choice.

Take Control!

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I tell stories. I scream. I like ice cream. paulajeanferri.com

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