Pain is Inevitable, Suffering is Optional

“Hey Ryan, you know that suffering is optional, right?”

I’m safe in saying that I had the most experience on my team with a coach before I joined Accomplishment Coaching last year. I hired my coach while I was in process of writing Written in the Stone.

My original coach Michelle said those words I started with at perhaps the lowest point in my life. I was swimming upstream in a current of hell.

  • I was a month removed from losing my dad – my best friend.
  • My well-being was a hot mess. I hadn’t slept well in several months.
  • My hope was fading away.
  • And I was * this * close to saying “the hell with it” and kissing a 30-year-long dream goodbye. Parts of me didn’t want to move forward with my book anymore.

Something shifted after she said that to me. I managed to lose 50 pounds. I embraced traveling. And I registered to participate in Accomplishment Coaching.

As I’ve said before, that year-long program really taught me to live my life as if I were alive. In many ways, it was the catalyst for the amazing life that I have now.

Michelle Akin is a semi-retired YouTuber (though knowing her as I do, I think the pull is too great.) She’s a gifted vocalist. She’s a mommy to a stunning one-year-old little lady named Amelia.

But she’s also one of the finest coaches in my business and a true credit to our craft.

Even though I’m no longer Michelle’s client, I still consider and see her as a trusted friend and a mentor to coach Ryan.

Oh, and speaking of Coach Ryan, he wouldn’t be a possibility if I hadn’t been working with her when I was. Perhaps even the possibility of published novelist Ryan D. Hall.

She’s certainly one of my favorite members of the human race.

I mean I did dig the program. And I’ve told her she undersold it by a factor of infinity.

This piece isn’t about brown-nosing Michelle Akin. Although I’m sure she’s enjoying this.

This piece is about those words she said to me at the lowest point in my life.

It wasn’t the words she said, but what her words showed me. And this is upon a ton of reflecting and thinking over the past two years.

I was choosing to be miserable. I was choosing to – as my late mom would say – wallow in my pain.

Was I wrong for being sad about losing my dad? That’s not it all. But I was swimming in quicksand and it wasn’t helping me move forward with my life.

Another way that people choose suffering is by being attached.

What do I mean by that? Well, let’s look.

Last week, we looked inside a sample coaching session with my client Ryan. And while that was one of the most meta pieces of writing I’ve ever done, there was a bigger point I wanted to make.

My client chooses to suffer around his relationship with Potential. And he was letting that suffering rule his life. It caused him several weeks of sleepless nights. And several days’ worth of misdirected anger.

Again, my client chose to suffer because he never truly expressed his feelings for Potential over his own worry and anxiety.

And again, my client was me and this article is suddenly getting meta as hell.

Moving on…

My point is that Ryan was attached to exactly how his relationship was going to go. He was attached to it looking exactly how it was going to look in his mind. And when it didn’t go exactly how he imagined, he chose to suffer.

Scuse me, let me go call my coach and my therapist…

I have also attached a hook, line, and sinker to how my coaching practice is going. And how it’s been slow in getting off the ground.

And it’s getting to me.

If I went into all the ways that I’m currently choosing suffering, this piece would be crazy long.

Let’s pull back a little bit and throw you an example.

Complaining is a natural way of being for a lot of us. We’ll complain about the weather, the traffic, our bosses, our kids, and significant others – if it exists, we’ll complain about it.

We’ll even complain about the fact that certain women in our lives don’t seem to see how good I’d be for them and—



Go get complete! C’mon!

Sorry about that.


Does complaining support anything positive? If you’re not proposing a solution to the situation at hand, then I can answer that question with one word. Two letters. And it’s the same word in Spanish and in English.

No. It doesn’t do a bit of good.

It’s like the line from Earth, Wind, and Fire’s song Mighty Mighty.

“Whatcha gonna do? ‘Bout your livin’ thang? Will you make it better? Or will you just complain?”

Real talk here: everybody goes through hell. Everybody goes through the trouble, strife, and pain. And everybody has sorrow.

But my question is this: do you choose to wallow in the pain? Or do you let your pain propel you? Do you use your pain to level up your life?

The choice is yours. Make it better, or just complain?

Test drive sessions for Team Ryan Coaching are available now. Do you believe that coaching could support you in creating transformation in your life? Wanna take advantage of this?

All you need to do is shoot me an email and we’ll make it happen.

I’ve got news for you. And – y’know – news for myself. Where you are in your life is exactly the place you need to be. And if you’re attached to the results of where you think you should be, no wonder you suffer.

Who’s to say that where you end up won’t be better than the script you have for the movie in your head?

Quit wallowing. C’mon.

Photo by Kory Westerhold

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