How To Create With Pain: Turning Obstacle Into Opportunity
Are you struggling with a painful injury or condition and feeling like it’s holding you back? Discover how to turn your pain into an opportunity for personal growth and development. In this powerful Best Year Ever episode, Rob Cressy shares his own story of how he turned a debilitating back injury into a blessing and the process for how to create with pain. Learn how Rob used his injury to set a meaningful goal for the year and discover how consistency, stretching, and mobility can help you achieve your own ideal version of health and strength. Join Rob on his journey and find out how you can turn your pain into a powerful tool for growth and development. Don’t miss out on this inspiring episode!
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(note: what follows is an AI-generated transcript from this video. Please be mindful that the transcript may not be 100% accurate)
There are levels to being a master creator. And in the last two weeks I broke through to a new one that I wanted to share with you. And this is all around creating with pain. And this episode right now is real time and what’s going on in my world to help you on in your journey to create growth in your life in in those of everybody.
Around you. So, uh, rewind to about three weeks ago. I’m training for the Clearwater Half Marathon, which is happening on January 28th, which is actually one week from right now. And I do a seven mile training run. And I’m someone who, this is nothing new for me. I ran two half marathons last year. I also ran a full marathon.
I’m someone, and when I sign up for a race, boom, I’m committed. I do it. That’s part of the. I’m athletics, so doing a seven mile training run. I’m doing the run walk method. Nothing out of the ordinary. It’s actually pretty normal for me. Well, three weeks ago, I wake up the next day and all of a sudden I have lower back pain, and this is 10 out of 10 pain level to the point where my lower back is spasming when I’m laying in better, laying on the ground, and this is some of the most intense pain I’ve ever felt in my life.
It feels like lightning is shooting inside. So I’m like, you know what? Uh, I don’t know what’s going on right here. I didn’t do anything that would cause this. I just literally woke up one day and now I have this back pain. So I’ll give it a few days and see if this just goes away. Who knows what this is?
Well, guess what? It did not go away. It only got worse to where my back. Was it an ever present pain that would come and go in terms of, uh, the degree of pain in which I was feeling? And this became so intense that I’ve had to pause my gym membership, no longer go to the gym. Uh, and this is something that I recently joined a, uh, group training center.
Where I was working out five days a week and I was loving it being a part of this community, so it was a very important part of my health and fitness, and all of a sudden I had deposit because I could no longer go to the gym. At the same time. I had to postpone and cancel all of my training runs for the half marathon because I couldn’t do much physically at all because my back is in major pain.
Right. And as you can imagine, yeah, physically this sucked. But mentally this was even a bigger challenge for me because I want to work out, I want to run, I want to train. So I sat there after a few days and I said, you know what? I’m gonna be smart. I’m not going to push this. I’m just going to see if some rest will heal this thing.
And guess what? It did not, and I very quickly saw how the, the slope of being in a habit routine can turn into being into a habit routine that does not serve you because. It was so unique for me, not in a good way to have this thing that is a part of who I am. I’ve, I’ve worked out five days a week for 15 straight years because it is a lifestyle and a way of being for me, and all of a sudden for an injury to take that away to where all of a sudden, uh, I’m not able to do that.
Mentally it was very challenging for me on top of the ever present, and I’m sure anybody listening or watching right now can, uh, relate to this. When you have a painter, an injury, it’s just always there. It just does something to your mind. So all of this is going on in my mind in the last three weeks, and I did not like it.
Well, the good news for me is I have learned how to self-audit myself, and I shrink my dispersion for how long I allow negativity to stay with me. So in this instance, it was probably, I don’t know, between a week and 10 days of it not getting better, my bitch voice, making crazy negative noise to where I said, all right.
This is a thing that I get to create with. I am not going to be a victim in this situation. I am going to make this better. And this comes foundationally from all of the inner work that I’ve done going more than 10 years back in building that inner fortress of mental toughness for myself. And this starts with Ryan Holliday’s book, the Obstacle is the Way.
And what stops most people is an opportunity for me because welcome to the world of entrepreneurship, where where every single day there are new monsters to slay. Well, guess what? This is just the new monster in front of me. So I’m sitting there and I’m like, all right, I am no longer being the victim to this backend dream.
What can I learn from this? What can I create? And that’s when the light bulb went off for. All right, Rob. This is actually a blessing for you and everyone that you lead and that you coach, and that is part of your community. This is your opportunity to create with pain. I’m like, All right, let’s go. I’m gonna turn this thing into the best thing that’s ever happened to me.
All right. What’s that look like? So, step one, I am open to the possibility that I can make this good. That’s where you always start. In this situation doesn’t mean I have all the answers. You just start from the perspective of. All right, I can make this good. So I’m looking around and I’m like, cool. How do I make this back injury that has completely turned my life upside down and make this something that is great?
So I’m like, all right, well, I know that I can create content about this. I was like, all right, well number two, I do have this half marathon still coming up. Uh, and you know what, uh, I still wanna run this thing. Despite the fact what every person who I would say, I’ve got this injury and I’ve also got this race, everybody I know is like, don’t run the race.
Don’t run the race. And I sit there and I’m. You know what? I’m not taking that advice. Yes, I get it. There’s a time and a place for rest and recovery and not pushing things. And there’s also a place for pushing through. I’m someone who recently finished David Goggin’s book, never finished, and I also, uh, read David Goggin’s other book.
So I’m about that life. So as I start creating with this pain, I say to myself, you know what? I’m not taking off the table. That I can run this half marathon in which right now is in less than a week. So I haven’t trained for it in the last three weeks, but that’s okay cuz mentally I know that I can do this.
And then all of a sudden the seed starts getting in there and I’m like, boom. This is an opportunity for me to really prove to myself what I am made of. I am somebody who practices what I preach. I am about this life, so what better way for me to show what I’m made of than to take this situation that has stopped me in my track?
And plow forward on it, doing something that so few people do healthy nonetheless with an injury that causes you to not be able to do anything. So all of a sudden that seed got planted in me, and this weekend I’m like, all right, let’s go. Let’s see what I can do. I’m gonna attempt my first training run in three weeks.
I’m just gonna see if I can even go down the. And mentally I’m like, I’ll try and do two miles. Well, I start my training run and I get six houses down and it feels like lightning is shooting into my back to where I’m like, I can barely move right now. And I was like, rut row. Are you telling me that I can only make it six houses down, uh, when doing this run?
But then the little light bulb went off for me and I reminded myself, you know what Rob? Most times when you run that first mile kind of sucks. You haven’t gotten your sea legs underneath you. How about you just keep on going? And I’m like, that’s a fantastic idea. So that’s exactly what I did. So I continued to run despite the pain and the good news was me continuing actually loosened up my back a little bit and I was like, alright.
Let’s go. And there was a six-way intersection where I had to go on the crosswalk and I stopped and all of a sudden my back then seized up. And I was like, well, I just learned that it doesn’t help when I stop. So the good news is I made it to the 1.25 mile mark, and then I turned around and I did my, uh, run back.
And once I got done, there was a major smile on my face. . And you know why? Cause I sat there and I was like, Hmm, could I do this seven more times in a week? In my answer 100% that I am willing to sign up for this grit fest that says, you know what, man? Uh, 13 or 14 times your back is gonna be in some pretty extreme pain when you slow down during that race.
But think about the things that I am going to learn about myself. I am always looking to create new levels of mindset for myself so I can share it with others to help you on your. And I’m sitting there and I’m like, man, this is amazing because here’s the unique thing about the way that I’m seeing fitness right now, because I’ve done, I don’t know, 10 plus half marathons before and I’ve run marathons.
Uh, this wasn’t anything special when I signed up for it, I was actually more looking forward to, uh, being part of the running community. A shout out to Jesse Itzler and the all day running company. They’re sponsoring this race up in Clearwater, Florida. So I was looking forward to being around everybody in that community.
That was my reason for being there. But all of a sudden now, this half marathon went from something that I can, I know I can do in my sleep. Two. Wait a second, man. The story of this half marathon is unlike any you’ve ever done before where you don’t know how this is going to go, where Completing this and finishing this isn’t a guarantee.
All of a sudden I’ve got a new energy that I’m creating with. So boom, I come back and I tell my wife, I was like, babe, there’s a hundred percent chance I’m running this race. She’s like, what are you talking about? I was like, listen, I was able to get through two miles. I can do that for another two and a half hours, and.
That’s the way that I’m creating with this pain. So, boom, I feel a lot of energy around this and, and you can almost hear the difference in energy in my voice from the, the lead up to sharing this story to sort of the crescendo in which I had my own light bulb moments to say, listen man, you’re no longer playing the victim in this situation.
So, uh, I’ve got a quarterly call or actually a monthly call, uh, with a friend of mine and we were on the call and we were just sort of catching up on things and I was sharing with him about what I was going through, uh, with his back injury. And he’s somebody who’s about this life, who’s big into fitness and mindset, and we start talking these shares with me, some of his experiences.
And all of a sudden, because I’m on this frequency, A new little light bulb goes off for me. He’s like, yeah. One of the things that’s really important is stretching and, and keeping things consistent and loose in making this part of your regiment. And one of the really challenging things for me that has really heightened my awareness on all of this is I have a 14 month old son and I am someone because I’m about this life.
Uh, I’m playing basketball, I’m running, I’m doing races, I’m doing things that people 10, 15, 20 years younger than me still aren’t doing. So as I get older, uh, I age like a fine wine. I only get better. And I sit there and I was laying in my son’s, uh, bedroom next to his crib and I was on the ground and I was just thinking about him and the lifestyle that I want to live for him as a dad playing t-ball, basketball, golf, fishing, kayaking, running races, you name it, everything is on the table and I will be participating in that.
But as I was laying on the ground, my back was thro. I just sat there and I was like, imagine if, and this is when I had no answers. This was something that was chronic and debilitating where I had this for the rest of my life and I wasn’t able to live that act of lifestyle for him. What would that look like for him?
And that seed was planted in me and man did that shoot fire in me. I was like, I do. Relate to this way of thinking and being whatsoever. This is something that I am not willing to accept as my fate on if this is how things are always going to be. And this is actually a good thing that I went into the shadow or the dark side of me for a second to think about this worst case scenario of the life that I’m creating for myself and my family.
Because I know what my ideal self looks like and it is a very healthful person. One of my declarations. I’m a masterpiece of health and strength. And this is being questioned right now. And man, this gave me so much inspiration to say, you’re not doing this just for yourself. You’re doing this for your son and your family.
So back to my conversation with my friend, and this is all running inside of me right now, and I think about, uh, my Misogi for the year. And this is something that, uh, if you’ve listened to this podcast over the. Uh, you know that every year I do a thing called a Misogi, which is one big year defining thing that you do that’s hard and challenging, that defines the year that when you’re done doing it, the benefits of it last for the rest of the year and into perpetuity for the rest of your life.
So for me, for example, last year, it. Uh, completing and finishing the Pittsburgh Marathon, which was, uh, my first marathon that I finished, even though I had run another one and had a near death experience. So boom, finishing the Pittsburgh Marathon, it is year defining for me. So all of a sudden I’m on this frequency of my health is being questioned, my vitality and my way of being, and who I am, and who I am as a father.
So I think about what Alan says to me is like consistency, Rob stretching and making sure this is part of who you are and the light bulb goes off. And I was like, Alan, you just gave me the greatest gift in the world. I just figured out what my Mao’s gonna be this year. My Mao, the thing that will define my.
Is touching my toes. You heard that? Correct. The thing that is most important that I am working on that will define my year is my ability to touch my toes. And why in the world does this matter? Because my entire life I have not been someone. Who is flexible. I cannot touch my toes. I can barely touch my shins despite being athletic and playing every single thing.
Stretching and mobility and flexibility has not been one of my gifts in life, and it’s something that have I worked on lightly? Yes. Have I committed to it fully? No, not at all. Well, all of a sudden with his back injury and my lifestyle and being, being in. I say, you know what? This Y is so strong that I know when I commit to a routine of stretching and flexibility and mobility, it will help my back issue and it’ll remove that.
It’ll make me more flexible, and it’ll be preventative maintenance for the rest of my life because it’ll be ingrained as a habit, as something that creates the ideal version of. And when I get to that day, and you’ll see this when you follow me on social media at Rob Cressy everywhere. I will touch my toes this year and you will know that this actually came.
From creating with Pain, and I wanted to share this story with you, and congratulations to anyone who’s still listening right now because you’re my type of person. And if you and I have never spoken before, I would love for you to reach out to me. You can find me everywhere and just let me know what you think about this or what’s going on in your world.
I would love to be a positive asset for you, um, because most people don’t make it, uh, past a minute or two in most things. So this was my way of taking something that limited me, where my bitch voice was making tons of noise, where I was being the victim, where my lifestyle and wave being were in question and I was one of the lowest I’ve been.
I mean, think about. It’s January and I’m recording this right now on January 23rd, new Year, new me, best year ever. All of this different stuff. We’ve got these huge ideas and life’s like, nah, Rob, you’re gonna wake up one day after a training run. Everything is about to change. And with that, we have the opportunity to say, I’m gonna allow this to limit me, or I’m going to take this as an opportunity.
And that is exactly what I’m doing. So to wrap a bow on this for you, I encourage you to think about the story and what’s going on in my life right this second, and what’s going on in yours. Where is there a story in your life where you are playing a victim, where you are seeing an schore as a challenge and you’re not seeing the opportunity that is.
Because that’s where growth comes from and that’s where the greatest amount of growth comes from. And I hope you take some inspiration from this because this is something that is, like I said, it’s raw, it’s real time, it’s going on in my life. And these are the things that become the greatest learning lessons in growth opportunities, not only for.
But also for you, because now I’m taking you on this journey with me and you know, there will be an update on this in one week when I run the Clearwater half Marathon, and whatever that story ends up with. We’re about to find out, but that’s another way that I’m creating with all of this boom podcast, video, social media, sharing the lessons, sharing the struggles, everything in between.
So I encourage you to audit yourself and say, all right, where is there pain in my life and how can I use that as an opportunity to create with it, not see it as being a victim