Which Behaviours Can Build, Or Rob You Of Your Perfect Life?
Time and again we feel that we, or someone we love, has become stuck in life or is repeating non-productive behaviour, such as procrastination, whining, criticising, complaining, lacking anger management etc.
And then we wonder, how can we get out of this behaviour or life pattern? It has a lot to do with the pain and pleasure principle – instant gratification versus longer term gain.
Many people know that we are motivated to avoid pain and to gain pleasure, however, factors like time, emotion, logic, and survival versus desire all create a complex personal formula which influence how we act at each moment of each day..
We want to avoid pain and to gain pleasure, or do we?
Actually, what we want most is to avoid pain, even if we won’t get pleasure, but pleasure would also be a great outcome. Then, not only are we trying to avoid what we perceive to be painful and possibly get what we perceive to be pleasurable, but time frames and the ticking clock also come into play. The closer something is to this moment, the more pain or pleasure we attach to it. Therefore, pain tomorrow is not as powerful of a force as pain today. Pain a few years away is far less motivating (or demotivating) than immediate pain.
This is precisely why most human beings have such a hard time doing the thing that will give them a long-term gain, because to do that there is often a short-term pain.
For example, these are actions that many take in the short term, causing long term pain:
Spending, which feels good but will prevent you accumulating savings.
Eating sugar, which feels good but will have a negative impact on your health.
Staying in a dead-end job, which is easy but will cost you your dream career.
Not exercising because you ‘have no time today’ will cost you your fitness.
Can you see how these short-term decisions of pain avoidance can cause more pain in the long term?
When thinking of making a decision based on gaining pleasure or avoiding pain, there is also an emotional and intellectual aspect to the decision. How many times have you eaten a block of chocolate, even though you knew intellectually that you should not have? Logically, you shouldn’t have eaten the chocolate but emotionally, you wanted it and ate it. What wins? Intellect or emotions?
I have witnessed many clients and friends trudging to work each day in a job they despise. Why? Because they are seeking certainty in their lives and would rather the pain of working in a dead-end job day after day than the uncertainty of changing careers. This action is due to fear of the unknown; people are hard-wired to survive so why risk no pay for a while or a wrong career move when things are sort of okay?
Putting The Pain and Pleasure Principle to Use in Your Life.
You can use these principals to your advantage to influence and motivate yourself to do the things that you want and need to do.
Here are important steps to master the pain and pleasure model to your advantage:
Think about what works for you. Knowing that your brain is focused on this moment, come up with ways of making future pain seem more real now.
Identify what behaviour you would like to change, a behaviour that no longer serves you.
Identify what part of the pleasure/pain principle this behaviour is serving. Are you getting pleasure from it or are you trying to avoid a pain or both?
Identify the ideal behaviour you would like to build instead.
Associate pain with your current behaviour. Identify all that could go wrong with continuing it and what this behaviour will cost you in the long term.
Associate a long-term, life-changing pleasure with the ideal behaviour you want to cultivate.
Associate the long-term pain of not following your ideal behaviour. What will this continued behaviour cost you in the long term? Is it time for a change?
Remember, it might be a short-term pain, but a long-term pleasure.
What changes are you going to make?
Carolyn (Caz) Rowland is a fashion designer, model, lifestyle blogger and professional Image Stylist. Caz is also a qualified NLP Master Therapist, Advanced Practitioner of Matrix Therapies, Time Line Therapist, Practitioner of Hypnotherapy, has a Diploma for Business and Life Coaching. Caz is happily married to her husband Simon, and raised four beautiful children, who are now young adults and a teenager.