PAIN is just French for bread

There was one training, one test that was so heavy, that already before starting you knew that at the end you would be throwing up or seeing black spots. You would be in pain no matter how fit you were.

Pain is just French for bread


Once in a while we did this test in our canoes to test our strength, fitness and limits. It was just in a straight line. Paddle up the river for about 100m and paddle down again. But with resistance around the boat so that every stroke would drive you only half the length forward as it would normally do.

Already days before you knew this test was coming, and you knew it was going to hurt…. hurt bad. Or maybe it would not just hurt, you would be throwing up as well. Or after crossing the finish you would be holding the bank so dear as if it was your girlfriend, just in order not to tip over in the water because your head was spinning and black spots emerged in front of your eyes.

Paradigm shift

But then one day I was stuck in traffic and read this on the number plate in front of me:

PAIN is just French for bread

Reading this ment a paradigm shift for me, it was a ‘mindfuck’. I always associated this training with pain, in the English sense of the word. It was a negative association. But why wouldn’t I associate it with pain in the French since of the word: bread. I liked the French bread (pain), and even more the ‘pain ou noix‘. It’s delicious! So why shouldn’t I associate this training with deliciousness instead of hurt?

Since that moment I approached this training in an entirely different way. No more loss of negative energy, but a positive association. The training itself was just as hard, just as painful. But changing the entire idea towards it already made a great difference.

Your association

This taught me that it’s mostly your association with a certain event that makes it a difficult event. Not the event itself. I applied this paradigm shift to a training session, but it can be applied to many things in life. So just stop for a while and think of an event where you always look up to in a negative way. While you can’t change the event itself, it’s your choice where you associate it with. And you can be strong enough to chose for another association!


  1. says

    Indeed, I try to ask positive questions instead of negative ones to ensure people

    for example: I use “Are you available for a new challenge?” instead of “If this does not bother, could you help your colleague ?”

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