Why Do More People Tend To Avoid Pain Than Gain Pleasure?
“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” - Helen Keller
Many of you would have heard of the model "Pain V's Pleasure" a model I not only use in daily life but with clients because it creates remarkable realisations and change to reach your goals to a fulfilling life. One day you wake up and ask yourself where the last 25 years went? Why am I still unhappy?
Avoiding pain keeps you safe yet doesn’t assist in you moving forward in life.
Do you know someone who has been in the same career for years, even though they are miserable there? Why? They are playing the safe game. They would rather be happy in a job they don't enjoy and be secure than leaving for a new career.
Or someone who is unhappy in their relationship but they stay in the relationship for their children and security again. But often when the children are grown up, they remain in the unhappy relationship, feeling unloved.
So why do we do more to avoid pain than we do to feel pleasure?
You guessed it. Security, safety, comfort and routine, which are often holding them back. They have a fear of change. Your perceived pain around staying the same is greater than the perceived pain of action.
The secret to change is to create a big enough compelling reason why you should take action, and the how you will do it takes care of itself.
Here are some questions I want you to answer to help you realise why you fear change.
- “What is this choice costing you right now?”
- “What will be the consequences of keeping this behaviour?”
- “What will happen if you keep going down this path?”
- “What is the benefit of this choice?’
- “What do you like about this choice?”
- “What don’t you like?”
Now you know the reason you are avoiding the pain of not receiving pleasure, it is time to ask yourself the following questions to see if the short term pain will result in long-term goals.
- “If you were to do this differently, how would you feel?”
- “If you could change this and get great results, how would that be?”
- “How could you turn this around?”
- “What would be the more important reason for changing?”
- “What would be the downside of turning this around?”
- “What is a compelling reason why you should do this differently?”
- “What would be the biggest bonus of doing this differently?”
I feared change for many years and felt like I was only leading half a life. It wasn't until I turned 40 that I decided enough. Since then I have become a happier person who is more comfortable in my skin, which has led to a better wife and mother, friend, studying styling, coaching and therapy, working with clients, then writing a blog and now fashion designing. But the number one important thing for me is I am happy and feel light and free.
Embracing pain to receive pleasure is something I embrace for this happiness and hope you this article leads you to this realisation too.
Carolyn Rowland is a qualified NLP Master Therapist, Advanced Practitioner of Matrix Therapies, Time Line Therapist, Practitioner of Hypnotherapy, has a Diploma for Business and Life Coaching and A Professional Image Stylist. Carolyn is happily married to her husband Simon, and raised four beautiful children, who are now young adults and a teenager.