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Pain vs. Pleasure: How we hold ourselves back using these two measures.

You know you need to make changes or do something but you just don’t do it. Why? Why do you put off committing to making that thing happen? Why do you continue to lay in bed at night telling yourself that tomorrow will be different?

It is simple, really. You are linking what you have to do with pain. It feels more painful for you to do that something than it does to just keep putting it off.

What if you linked more pain to not taking action? How would you feel if you did not change today? If your relationship/marriage did not change? What would happen to this relationship? How do you see things 3 months, 1 Year, or even 5 years from now if things do not change?

What about parenting your children? What do you want to be different in your home? If things don’t change, how do you see this impacting your child? Your relationship with your child? Your family's life?

Maybe you have been wanting to take off some extra weight or change jobs. Again, if you don’t do what you know you should do, what will be the consequences?

When I worked in addiction programs, clients would always talk about “hitting rock bottom.” That was the turning point when they said or just realized, “enough is enough.” It was at this point, many would commit to making the necessary changes and taking action towards a full recovery.

Is this what you need to happen in order to take action? Do you really want to wait until you hit that bottom point? It is so much harder to work from the bottom up.

This is a very challenging place to work from. Why allow it to get to that point? I know I am not talking to you about addictions, or maybe I am, but you get the point.

Make Painful Actions Pleasurable

What if you focused on building trust back in your relationships? What if you focused on being the parent you know you want to be? Whatever it is, emotionally you need to feel that shift of pain to pleasure.

Consider your current situation, relationship, etc.… whatever it is that you want to change.

On a scale of 0-10, 10 being completely unbearable and 0 being not a problem at all, how would you rate the pain you associate with your current situation?

Now let’s compare it to the pain you associate to the changes you know you should be making. Again, using that same scale, what is the level of pain?

You may find that there is a big difference between the two but there may not be. Either way, connecting that pain to even greater pain and turning unpleasant or dreaded actions into pleasurable ones is key. We will refer back to this scale later to help move you.


“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.


What if you the pain of not changing was so much greater than the pain of doing what you needed to do today to change?

Would you change?

Here are two steps to help you get started in correctly linking pain and pleasure so you can take control of your life:

Create Massive Pain

Now let’s look at where you are stuck and make it even more painful, you do not want to even stay there anymore. Go back to the number on the scale for how much pain you would feel from not changing. Got it? Multiply that number by 10 and imagine what life will be like.

If this is a change needed in your marriage. What would happen if things got so bad and divorce was on the line? What would life be like if you divorced? How would finances be handled? How would the kids be impacted?

Whatever your situation, imagine it so much greater than what you initially rated it and create massive pain.

Link new behavior to pleasure

If the pleasure in new behaviors was so great, it would outweigh the negative. Identify the behaviors or action you need to take to make the change. Find a positive in each one.

Go through the list of actions you know you need to make and put a positive spin on them. How can you connect them to something positive? Maybe a past experience you had or a movie you saw. Remember the positive feeling and then think about what you need to do now.

Repeat and follow through.

Repeat and follow through.

The more repetitively you experience a positive emotion linked to the new action, the more likely you will find pleasure and continue to do it.

For example, you may link pain or displeasure with going to the gym regularly. The first day you go and you feel more energy.. You feel good. The next day you feel the same and the next, but by the end of the week you feel exhausted and start to think, "I don't like this." Then you step on the scale and you notice you lost 3 lbs. That feels good. So you go back again, you keep doing it and the results bring you pleasure.

You may need to experience some short term pain in order to gain, and after doing it repetitively you will find it pleasurable. There may be days which you will need to push through but remember the massive pain you will feel if you do not. This will far outweigh the pain of the moment.

Change what you link pain and pleasure to and watch how you shape your life. Who is going to be more successful at losing weight, the person who links pleasure with eating healthy and exercise, or to eating food and watching television?

You decide today what you want to be different in your life. It starts with a decision and then action is needed, daily, to help you move forward. Use the tools for linking pain and pleasure accurately to help you take control of your life and situation. Feel empowered!

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