In Lawrence of Arabia, Peter O’Toole‘s T.E. Lawrence extinguishes a lit match by squeezing it between his fingers. When William Potter tries the same thing he cries out and says “it damn well hurts!” and demands to know what the trick is. Lawrence’s reply: “The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts.”
Audiences have always been impressed by Lawrence’s enigmatic reply. Burning your skin with a match is obviously a weird thing to do, but people admire anyone who has an indifference to pain.
In All The President’s Men, which opened 14 years after Lawrence, Hal Holbrook‘s “Deep Throat” told Robert Redford‘s Bob Woodward a story about Watergate burglar Gordon Liddy (it starts in the below video around 1:31):
“I was at a party once, and Liddy put his hand over a candle, and he kept it there. He kept it there until his flesh was burned. Somebody said ‘what’s the trick?’ and Liddy said ‘the trick is not minding.'”
Exact same bit, different impressions. Holbrook was telling Redford (and the ATPM audience) that Liddy was an eccentric weirdo and possibly a dangerous character. It’s all in the context.