For the fourth time, I had the pleasure of listening to Dr. Michael Fowlin give his motivational speech. While much of his speech, which includes numerous improvisations, has remained the same over the years, his direction has slightly changed to become much more open, raw, real, and honest. While discussing his childhood trauma, he administers this powerful message: Your Pain is Your Gift.
He explained how everything he endured (and he really did suffer quite a bit) made him into the compassionate person he is today. It drove him to get his doctoral degree in psychology where he works especially with troubled teens. He turned his pain into a place of empathy, caring, and love.
We have all suffered; it is the plight of humanity, but the trick, as Dr. Fowlin explains, is to turn your pain into your gift.
- Become the friend you wish you had. The most powerful gift you could give someone is your friendship. If you have ever suffered the betrayal of false friends or felt the coldness of loneliness, the best way to turn that moment around is to be a friend to someone else. Offer another person exactly what you were denied. You will feel a surge of compassion which will ignite your faith in other people again.
- Speak up when something is wrong. It’s painful to look back and believe you could have done something but didn’t. It’s painful to know someone could have spoken up for you but didn’t. Turn your moment of fear into a moment of bravery. Be the voice for someone who is silenced. You have the power to create beautiful, positive change; trust your heart.
- Tell someone he/she is beautiful. There are so many expectations of attractiveness in this world, it’s easy to always feel inadequate. We’re too fat, too short, too ugly – we never seem to be enough. But we are enough. We are far more than enough. Take your moment of insecurity and tell someone else how absolutely beautiful you know he/she is.
- Send an anonymous gift. Sometimes we fill the voids of our sadness with stuff. Sometimes we feel pangs of emptiness because we are without. In either circumstance, rise above your sense of self and send another person a gift. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but knowing that person will open a package to find something beautiful…but more so, to open up the package understanding someone else thought of him/her – you create a moment of gratitude.
The challenge here is to understand your own pain and not compare it to others. Your pain is your own and it is valid. People may want to diminish your pain by saying it isn’t that bad, or stating that others have it worse – this isn’t fair – your pain is yours.
But your pain is your gift. You are not alone in this journey of life. We all have periods of anger and grief, but turn your sorrow into a gift for others. Give exactly what you would have needed. Take your moment to feel your pain, and then take your moment to make the world better. You are a gift.