What Is Your Pain Tolerance in Life?

I recently read an interesting article on WebMD regarding Pain Tolerance written by Katrina Woznicki. For a geek like myself, it was pretty fascinating stuff. Apparently there are all kinds of factors that determine a persons pain tolerance, and some of them are far from obvious.

For instance, the article suggests that ‘Red Heads’ might be more sensitive to pain than their blonde and brunette counterparts because of a particular gene. Your left hand, might be more sensitive to pain than your right hand (or visaversa) depending on which is dominant and which side of the brain processes those signals. Athletic people often experience less pain than their overweight counterparts too. Who knew!?!

What is your pain tolerance in life?

The way that each individual experiences pain differently is a compelling idea for me. Wrestling through high school while working construction in a family business has always left me with what I think is a high pain tolerance. I’ve had bones broken, knee ligaments torn, and more cuts and bruises than I can count. Each one adding a little bit more hair to my manly chest I’m sure.

What is thought-provoking for me is that what I experience when I smash my hand with a hammer might be entirely different from what my wife might experience in the same situation. What is really unpleasant for her, might leave me crying like a baby because our brains interpreted the biological and neurological transmissions differently.

I suppose there’s probably not anything earth shattering in that idea, but what happens when we apply that same principle to some of the less tangible arenas of life?  In other words what happens if we ask, “What is your pain tolerance in life?”

Pain comes in many forms. We typically think of physical pain, but what about emotional or psychological pain? Have you ever noticed that one person barely reacts to a hurtful word spoken about them, while another person is completely devastated in the same situation?

If you were to ask me to get up in front of people and dance, it would cause me a great deal of pain in the form of embarrassment. It’s an emotional pain that freaks me out. I have all of zero pain tolerance in that area.

If you ask me to speak to a group of a thousand people, I have no problem with that. (as long as I can prepare for a bit first) Another individual that will dance the night away like a dancing queen might turn seven shades of pale at the thought of speaking in public. We each experience the pain associated with those situations differently based on how our brains process them.

When a person moves or is forced from a comfort zone, they experience discomfort (pain). It can be trivial or traumatic based on that individuals tolerance for pain in that area.

I guess where I’m going with this idea is that we always have to understand that each person experiences each situation in life differently. The burn isn’t the same for everyone.

When we’re building healthy and growing relationships, we have to nurture people where THEY are and not where WE are, and we can’t judge them by our own tolerances in life.

Be gentle with the people in your circle today. Give them the grace to experience pain differently than you do. Maybe it’s emotional pain. Maybe it’s social, psychological, financial, or even the obvious physical pains that we all experience every day.

Give some kindness and reap some kindness. The world will be a better place.

“Love is patient, love is kind…” 1 Corinthians 13:4

Since you may be curious, that is my hand, and it really is ‘on fire’. It was part of an art project I did a few years ago. Yes, I am okay. Yes, it was painful. I lost some hair, but no skin. Please do NOT try. The hardest part was trying to operate the camera with my other hand…


About the Author

Jeremy BinnsWhen I'm not trying to save the world from the coming zombie invasion, I love my wife, hug my daughters, write, photograph, listen, observe, explore, and worship.View all posts by Jeremy Binns →

  • Dennis

    Jeremy mate … this is brilliant! … I work in nursing homes with people from lower socio economic demographic. I see many broken families and sometimes feel frustrated by their lack of ability to forgive … your blog reminds me not to judge … I don’t know the full story … it reminds me to care for and make a move to understand with a compassionate heart … not trying to fix, but just to care … thanks … let’s see how I go now living it!

    • http://www.jeremybinns.com/ Jeremy Binns

      Thanks Dennis – “living it” does seem to be the kicker. For me anyhow. :)

  • Laurel Griffith

    Great post. I have never considered the variety in emotional response to be similar to the range of physical response. Thanks for the insight.

    • http://www.jeremybinns.com/ Jeremy Binns

      Thanks you Laurel – I’m glad you enjoyed it.


    Great insight!

    • http://www.jeremybinns.com/ Jeremy Binns


  • lattrice

    I am inspired to do this……thanks for sharing what God put on your heart!

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot

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