Some of our best lessons come out of painful experiences.

Most of my significant life lessons have been painful and have often had something to do with people that I trusted, respected and (stupidly) expected more of.

Darn those expectations!!!

Over the years I have had people whom I loved, cared for and invested lots of emotional energy in, do things which were dishonest, deceitful, hurtful and even criminal. It usually had something to do with money and/or business. Invariably they would 'find a reason' to resent me, dislike me, be critical of me, steal from me and to justify whatever it was that they were doing.
Apparently it (criticising me) made them feel (or look) better.

I apologise if this sounds self-indulgent or melodramatic but it's my experience, it's the truth and there's a point to it all... coming soon!

I have watched people destroy their life or parts of it, and then get angry, bitter and resentful towards me because I didn't do enough to help them.
Or because somehow, their lack of success was my fault.

An interesting concept.
Couldn't have anything to do with them.

I have had people in my life who would give me a hug, tell me how great I am and then walk into the next room and run me down to another person.
I have had people who masqueraded as friends, yet would lie to my face, day in and day out.
I have had others who would 'turn it on' for a period of time in order to get close to me because it was advantageous to their career or financial situation to gain my trust, approval and friendship... and then once they had what they came for (the position, the knowledge, the skills, the pay) the 'love' would stop.

I do not hate any of these people (I don't hate anyone), resent them, wish them harm or even dislike them... in fact, I hope they prosper.

But it won't be with me in their life... and it won't be with my help.

(I'm a good guy... but I'm not an idiot).

I will also say at this point that I have had (and continue to have) a number of amazing people in my life who have always been the real deal; honest, caring, loyal and loving (even when I'm being an idiot).
Unconditional friends.
Love that.

When I first went into business I was absolutely naive.
About business and (some) people.
On some level, I (stupidly) assumed that most people would be happy for me to succeed.
Personal training centres were non-existent (in this country) in the late eighties, so it was a brand new, exciting concept.
The first three years in business was one 'lesson' after another for me.
I didn't expect anyone's help or anything... but I didn't expect what I (often) got.

Just like I get excited when I see someone (even someone I don't know) try and do something special with their life (or part of that life), I thought others would do the same.
And while there are some fantastic, amazing, honest and loyal-no-matter-what people in my life... it has been my (personal) experience, that they are in the minority.

While I respect and want to learn from people who create something from nothing and people who take chances, what I often got along the way was resentment and negativity.

Not rare, I know.
Possibly a familiar story for you.

I have just read what I've written so far and I realise that I may be sounding a little negative; that's not my intention. It is my intention to paint an honest and realistic picture of what (I believe) most of us have to contend with as we move along our own journey towards 'amazing' and deal with some of the realities and practicalities of people, relationships, trust, expectations and life.

Most of my life, most of the time... inhabits somewhere between good and amazing.
By and large, my life and my experiences, are fantastic.
But occasionally, my reality hovers between bad and horrible.
I'm not alone in this.

It's how we deal with the bad and the horrible which differentiates us.
Which makes or breaks us.

Sometimes I sit down at my computer to write a post like this... and because I'm the motivator, the coach, the teacher and the personal development guy, part of me feels compelled (obligated perhaps) to churn out some 'feel-good', trite, predictable, self-help... fluff.

But the trouble with the feel good fluff is that:

1) I'm not good at it.
2) It's usually manufactured, repetitious, generic self-help crap which really benefits nobody in the long term.
3) It's often not realistic or practical for where most of us 'live'.
4) It doesn't address most of the real issues which we contend with along the way.

So excuse my bluntness and lack of feel-good-ness(!) today, I'd rather give you what I believe to be some practical, helpful, honest insight.

Much of the 'resistance' that we will have to contend with over our journey will come from other people. The truth is that for most of us life is periodically a painful place to be.

And the reality is that, while some people learn, grow, change, adapt and soar when they go through a painful experience... others going through the same thing will crash and burn.
They give up.
They get angry.
They blame.
They get bitter.
They resent.
They get jealous.
They lose.

Don't avoid pain... deal with it.
Don't avoid people, deal with them.

One of the dilemmas for Craig the optimist and Craig the coach has always been.... while I want to trust everyone and see the good (Craig the feeler), the logical, rational, practical part of me (Craig the thinker) has too many vivid memories of people who have done skanky, stanky, yucky, nasty things... and too much common sense to know better (than to expect good from everyone).

So it seems I have a few choices:

1) I can get angry at people and trust no-one.
2) I can stay awake at night and agonise over other people's behaviour and the 'injustice' of it all.
3) I can become a victim and feel sorry for myself (a popular choice for many).
4) I can learn how the world and people work and deal with it.
5) I can get over myself, not be precious, be a realist and get stuff done.
6) I can trust people who earn my trust and continue to do my best to be a positive in others lives.
7) I can appreciate, acknowledge and be thankful for the great people in my life.

I think I'll go options four, five, six and seven.

So many people I have worked with and mentored over the years talk about this wacky concept of 'fairness'.

"Life's not fair."
"My boss is not fair."
"This situation is not fair."
"It's... just not fair."

You only need to take a look a the nightly news to see how 'fair' the world is(n't)... but the reality is... the news doesn't usually impact on us personally, so it doesn't bother us too much.

Listen up...

The world's not about fair.
Life's not about fair.
People are not about fair.

Some things just are.

Get your head around that and move on.
You'll thank me one day.

Change, influence and improve what you can... but don't waste emotional energy on stuff that's out of your control.
That doesn't mean be selfish and without a global or social conscience... it just means be realistic, practical and do what you can right now.

Our existence, our survival, our 'life-experience' has got nothing to do with fairness.
And everything to do with adaptation, attitude and endeavour.

Here's what my amazing, crazy and at times, painful journey has taught me:

1) Often I'm the problem and often I'm wrong.

2) Often I'm not.

3) Being an optimist is good.

4) Being an optimist and a realist is better.

5) Life is messy, lumpy, bumpy and painful... we need to cope with that.

6) Pain can be a great teacher if we let it be.

7) It's unhealthy to try and live in some unrealistic, Hollywood, head-in-the-sand version of reality.

8) It's okay to 'not have fun' and 'not be in the zone' all the time - even if you do pride yourself on your great attitude and amazing optimism.

9) It's normal to experience negative emotions (resentment, anger, bitterness) but it's unhealthy and destructive to hold on to them.

10) As a rule, pain is temporary.

Author's Bio: 

Craig Harper (B.Ex.Sci.) is an Australian motivational speaker, qualified exercise scientist, author, columnist, radio presenter, television host and owner of one of the largest personal training centres in the world.

Motivational Speaker - Craig Harper