The Ten Principles of Pain

Pain persists till something changes. Pain increases the longer it’s tolerated.


Dentist visits weren’t on my list of things to do during my early college years. We couldn’t afford it. I still have a gap in the back of my mouth where I lost a cavity-filled tooth.

Once that tooth started aching, it didn’t stop. It grew worse till it became intolerable. I actually tried pulling it myself.

Toothaches don’t subside they get worse. The thing that’s hurting today will only hurt worse tomorrow if you don’t change something.

Change or:

  1. Organizational stress worsens.
  2. Interpersonal conflict escalates.
  3. Internal struggle intensifies.

One pain:

The Emergency Medical Technician, before plunging a giant needle into my chest said, “This is going to hurt.” It didn’t!

I learned later, the sharpest pain is the only one you feel. The pain in my mangled hip masked everything else.

3 Challenge:

Look through pain. Biggest pain-points may not be biggest problems. They may be distractions. I could live with a broken hip but the pressure building in my right lung was crushing my heart.

Cause more pain. Stopping pain won’t solve causes. Plunging a giant needle in my chest actually caused more pain not less.

It hurts more just before it hurts less. It hurts to lance a broken department, for example. But, relief and health follow the knife.


Pain intensifies focus. Focus on changing you more than changing others. Change your:

  1. Willingness to listen.
  2. Advisors.
  3. Attitudes.
  4. Definition of success and failure.

The most challenging changes are inside you. Ever notice how easy it is to focus on changing others? It’s incredibly easy to know what others should do. Blame exacerbates pain. Responsibility addresses causes.

Pain changes when you change.

The 10 Principles of pain:

  1. Pain persists till something changes.
  2. Pain increases the longer it’s tolerated.
  3. The sharpest pain is the only one you feel.
  4. Pain intensifies focus.
  5. Look through pain.
  6. Cause more pain.
  7. It hurts more just before it hurts less.
  8. Blame exacerbates pain.
  9. Responsibility addresses causes.
  10. Pain changes when you change.

Confession: Adding this list put me over 300 words.

What have you learned about pain?

How do you deal with pain?