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A person seating on a white bench in a white room, wearing a white hooded top, with the hood up. Fear, Pain and Pleasure

Fear, Pain and Pleasure

Making it critical

Why is it that some people are able to reach an amazing level of success, but fail to do just that? And why do some people seem to be going nowhere, only to find them later at a level of success that even they didn’t expect?

One part of this is because they don’t know that they can succeed or how they did it. It sounds crazy sometimes, that someone that is highly intelligent will struggle through life and yet someone who doesn’t appear intelligent can lead a successful life. Those are the biases most of us hold. We base success on academic achievement (look up the Dunning–Kruger effect).

The difference is another type of intelligence and knowledge, and that is the type of knowledge that leads to a successful life. The people that succeed recognise that to do so you have to deal with your fears and work through them, focussing on the wanted outcome, rather than all the reasons why you shouldn’t do something. It’s the belief that failure is not failure or final, that it’s just another challenge to success and a lesson to learn from on how not to do something.

It’s an understanding that fear keeps you in the pain of your current circumstances, rather than reaching for the pleasure on the other side of fear. For some this comes naturally – they were conditioned as children to be able to do that, as a result of external circumstances. Others build this into themselves at later stages of life.

The British tycoon, Sir Alan Sugar, started selling bits of wool he collected, as one of his childhood ventures. You could say he was a natural at spotting opportunity. Anthony Robbins had to work on himself to build the wealth he now has, learning as he went along. Two different situations, different ways of getting where they want to be.

There is another reason why people succeed – they must. They feel there is no option. They reach a critical point from which there is only one possible way and that is to create a better life.

Hitting the bottom

If you’ve never read Og Mandino’s own story, “A Better Way to Live”, you may want to put it on your monthly reading list. He reached rock bottom, contemplating suicide.

This is the lowest level we can reach before death. We either decide to live a better life or we die. The difference here is the will to live and when that will is present, the only decision is to create a change.

At this point, fear of the unknown no longer exists, fear of what we could lose doesn’t exist, because there is nothing to lose. The only pain is staying where we are and it is unacceptable. Pleasure of what’s to come might not even play a part in the change; the pain of no change and staying there is enough of a driving force.

The last dollar

Others don’t reach that depth of despair, but, for them, they come close to all-out failure.

Imagine being at the point of having your home, possessions, whatever little you have left, being repossessed by a bank! Shame, anger, failure, a bundle of emotions appear. For some, this is the point where they springboard onto the road to success.

The circumstances are unacceptable. The pain of what is happening is too great and, again, the fear of the future becomes less important than moving towards a more pleasurable life. The idea, the image, of things being better, financially better, a better family way of life, are more attractive than the pain of staying where you are.

Consequently, fear becomes so small, still present, but it’s impact is so little, that we create a movement forward, towards the life we want.

This is another critical point. Not as low as the one from hitting the bottom, but enough to make us move forward rather than staying where we are.

Virtually Critical

But what if we’re not there, at those critical points? Do we have to be at those critical points to make a change?

Do we have to lose our job to get us to move forward?

Anthony Robbins worked as a janitor in the day and studied at night. He made the change gradually, even when he was living out of his car – homeless. Still, that is a critical point.

Do we need to reach that point? No we don’t.

What if you can create an emotional critical point? A virtual critical point?

If we can get ourselves mentally, to a point of where we are in our life is so painful to be at and make that pain larger than the fear we have of moving, then we can create movement. Add to that the benefits of moving forward, the pleasure of getting to where we want to get to and you have a winning formula.

When the pain of where we are is greater than the pain and we have build an image of the pleasure of what waits for us on the other side of fear, we create momentum.

Creating a virtual reality

If you’ve read my article on the subconscious mind, you’ll know that the subconscious doesn’t differentiate real life situations with imagined ones, the key ,though, being the emotional content. If we don’t believe it and feel it, neither will our subconscious, which means that nothing has or will change.

So imagine what you want to change and attach massive pain to it. Make that feeling so intense that staying there is more painful than moving forward. Run the image through your mind again and again. Be persistent. Sometimes it takes time.

You could also try creating a fear of staying where you are – fear needs less repetitions to enter the subconscious. It is a primal feeling. Make the fear of staying where you are greater than the fear of change.

At the same time imagine the pleasure you will get in making that shift – the fulfillment of achievement.

This takes time and effort. Be specific with what you want. Doubts may exist at the start. Keep focussing on getting to where you want to get to and keep running those images in your mind. You’re resetting the direction your subconscious will take you, by resetting the goals and targets it is to aim for.

Persist and repeat – repetition, repetition, repetition.

Your life doesn’t have to be the way it is, if you want to change it. If you’re happy where you are (and you quite likely are if you have no desire to change or have no push; think about this!), then you are one of the select few that have discovered your way to live.

We don’t have to live in pain, under the shadow of pain. We can choose pleasure. We can live under the sky of peace.

What then can escort us on our way? One thing and one thing only: philosophy. This consists in keeping the divinity within us inviolate and free from harm, master of pleasure and pain, doing nothing without aim, truth or integrity, and independent of others’ action or failure to act.
Marcus Aurelius

Photograph by: Daniel Mingook Kim on Unsplash


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