How to Use Pleasure and Pain to Your Advantage

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The secret of success is learning how to use pain and pleasure instead of having pain and pleasure use you. If you do that, you’re in control of your life. If you don’t, life controls you.

–Anthony Robbins

I received some emails last week about my post, I Tried To Change And It Didn’t Work. They said, Greg, I understand that we don’t change because we think we’re getting more pleasure and less pain out of staying the same than we would get out of changing, but how do I use that knowledge to convince myself I need to change?

Great question.

Let’s use pain to our advantage. Let’s amplify the pain of our current situation and what that pain will become if we don’t change.

We need to do this, because we often find ways to avoid the pain we’re living in. We have all kinds of ways to distract ourselves. Here’s a partial list:

  • TV
  • Food
  • Alcohol
  • Movies
  • Social Media
  • The Internet
  • Sports
  • Clubs
  • Hobbies

Not all of these are bad for us, but they can be if we use them to escape and dull the pain of the rest of our life.

We’re going to use the Christmas Carol technique. (If you’ve ever seen Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what you should be trying to do.) I learned this one from Anthony Robbins years ago. I still use it to maintain my motivation anytime I start to think things are getting too hard.

To do this right, you should spend a good fifteen minutes going deep into your thoughts and feelings to make it seem as real as possible.

Close your eyes and imagine what your life will be like if you do not change to follow what you were created to do. If you’re lucky, you will bounce from job to job chasing the paycheck to take care of your family. You will go to work every day with a feeling deep inside you that you aren’t doing what you were put on this earth to do. You will spend 40-60 hours a week doing a job you don’t like, or maybe even hate.

Think about doing this job you hate and all the things in your life that bother you. Imagine this is as good as it will ever get. Imagine all the dreams you have dying unfulfilled. You never get that dream job, never pursue that Passionate Purpose burning inside you, never make more money, never get closer to your loved ones, never travel to new places, never improve your relationship with God, never help the people you care about, never move into your dream home.

You never grow. You never change. You’re stuck like this until the day you die.

Imagine that you don’t do anything you’ve been dreaming about. You do nothing different so nothing changes a year from now. What would that feel like? What would it look like? What would it sound, smell, and taste like? Does that create emotional pain for you?

Now imagine nothing has changed and it’s five years from now. You keep doing the same things every day. You’re no closer to your dreams and goals than you were five years ago, but you’re five years older. You’re going through the motions 40 to 60 hours a week.

You live for the weekends and two measly weeks a year of vacation—if you’re lucky.

But it pays the bills and you’re doing “OK.” Years go by and you feel like the life is being sucked out of you. You aren’t the fun-loving, optimistic person you used to be. Your kids and spouse aren’t getting the best of you anymore. You realize sometimes you are taking out your frustrations on them. You feel depressed with where your life is. You keep putting off the things you know you should do and you get angry with yourself for not following through. Your self-esteem keeps sinking lower. How does that feel? Is it painful yet?

Now do it again and project your life out ten years, twenty years. Think about your life with no growth and no changes thirty years from now. Make it as real as you can and feel it right now. Spend five to ten minutes really feeling this. I’ll wait. …

(Man this kettle corn microwave popcorn is really good! Oh, you’re back. Hey!)

OK, how scary are those feelings?

And what if becoming stagnant where you are is the best-case scenario. What happens if your company lays you off? What happens if the job you do becomes obsolete? What happens if you don’t work on your marital relationship and that leads to divorce?

You’re either growing or dying. Which one sounds better to you?

That fear we just created needs to be greater than the fear you might fail at following your Passionate Purpose. If you approach this as if you can’t afford to fail, as if your future depends on it, you will succeed.

Now let’s get a deep emotional feeling of how much pleasure the life of our dreams could be.

Do the Christmas Carol exercise again. But this time think about what your life will be like when you start pursuing your Passionate Purpose every day.

What will you have accomplished and what kind of a person will you be one year from now? Write down every good thing you can about what that would be like.

What will you be earning an income doing?

What will your family life be like?

What will your physical and spiritual fitness be?

How eager will you be to jump out of bed each morning?

How much more freedom to pursue your desires will you have?

How great will it feel to be highly valued for what you are contributing to others?

Visualize what your life will be like. Feel the feelings that come with that life.

Now do the same exercise for imagining your extraordinary life five years from now. What have you achieved already and what are you pursuing now? How big an income are you generating? What kind of home are you living in? How have you improved your most important relationships even more? How has every area of your life improved? What are you most thankful for now? Go deep into your imagination. Feel the emotions well up inside you.

Use the same prompts about your life we have been using and look out ten years. Now 15 years. Now 20 years. How extraordinary is your life now? Visualize achieving every goal you have for the next 20 years of your life. Everything you’ve ever wanted to do, be, learn, earn, and give has come to pass.

Your relationships are better than you thought possible. You walk with your Creator. You are giving abundantly to the people and causes you believe in. You are living in your dream home and taking vacations around the world with your loved ones and making priceless memories. See it, feel it, and experience it as if it has already happened. Get deep into it. Convince yourself it’s real.

How do you feel right now?

You’re welcome.

Let’s GO!

(I now offer one to one coaching and an online coaching program for various budgets. Click here for more details.)

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that I view as rude, snarky, mean or off-topic. Hey, this is to support each other and have fun! Let's Go!

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