Are you motivated by pleasure or pain?
Motivation is a pain in the derrière.
The truth is I'm not motivated by fanciful dreams of myself on eight vacations a year in the tropics, a new sports car, or cash at my disposal for liposuction on my problem areas. That all sounds nice, but obviously I'm pretty comfy as I am. But the instant I realize I'm late for an appointment, my ass is in gear.
Notice the picture of the shoe above. I know a lot of women motivated by acquiring shoes like this. But seriously, we all KNOW they are a PAIN. That's not me. This obvious pain in the shoe motivates them to acquire something they really want. An image they want to portray (which is fine- no judgment here).
However, this picture makes me motivated to work from home in slippers. I'd rather suffer the self-discipline of my own crazy schedule and deadlines amongst my kids and 8 pets. I would do almost anything to avoid working a typical 9-5, commuting to work, or wearing high heels on a daily basis ever again.
Currently I have three clients who want to improve their lives. We're in the consulting phase. The first thing I have to assume about any individual is that most people are motivated by both pleasure and pain, somewhere in the grey area.
Not that we're all asses, but a donkey is both motivated by a carrot dangling in front of him or a swat with a stick from behind.
Indeed, "pain" is a powerful motivator. For pain to be motivating though, it has to be more uncomfortable than say our ritualistic negative thoughts that sweep through our brain for no apparent reason. It has to be the pain of going to the gym to see positive results. Getting up a little earlier to "catch the worm". We have to accept pain as part of the process.
You have to choose the pain, or the price to pay, to get what we want.
If "pleasure" predominantly motivated us, we'd see nearly everyone's life match their dreams and goals effortlessly. Pleasure motivates moments, but when we're talking long-term, real change, something substantial and meaningful to us, pain is involved.
For quick reference, here is pain motivation in a nutshell:
Pleasurable motivation is much easier to give credit to. People assume positivity is at the root of accomplishing goals. This is not true. Positivity is certainly toted as a cure-all. Happy quotes run down our social feeds like an enthusiastic waterfall. Most of the time, they keep us comfortable. With this barrage of pleasurable feedback, we stay stuck.
We all need a healthy dose of reality every now and then.
You can be happy and stuck too. The world is changing. You are changing. What makes you happy today will not be true tomorrow. What makes you happy in the short-term, does not lead to long-term joy.
Motivation is a push-pull effort; being pushed by pain (away from your problems and out of your comfort zone) and being led by pleasure (your dreams/goals)
People lack motivation because everyone around them supports their beliefs and scripts-whether its pity or putting them on a pedestal. Very rarely do we subject ourselves to a painful truth...let alone using that to motivate us.
Someone could be committing career or relationship suicide and everyone would be inadvertently cheering on the sidelines, encouraging the wrong behavior because they want to appear "supportive".
(Takes me back to being the only one of my friends that did not support our friend driving by her ex's house to see what he was doing. Never drive by your ex's house!)
Negative motivation is being practiced, in conjunction with other methods, by many personal development coaches, beginning with the notion that everyone has room for improvement. Minus derogatory personal attacks, they are using the rigorous truth to help people make a positive change in their lives.
Of course I like this idea, because I've seen and help implement change in people's lives using these tactics. Get real. Get better.
Choose your potion or poison (Pleasure or pain? Hint: don't go for the obvious answer).
The next time you're torn between pleasure and pain as a way of getting into motivation-mode... think of a fork in the road. Pleasure on one side, pain on the other. You are in the middle, standing in that grey area.
Facing the mouth of this fork just before it splits off into two different paths, you look
ahead at the two paths spread out before you. One is who you want to be (think of what that ideal incorporates) and the other is all things you do not want to be (think of the unpleasantness of what exactly you don't want).
You will likely choose the path to your best self, not only because you want those desirable things that one path offers, but because you also want to avoid that path that leads to more pain and unwanted things in your life. We are a mix of both!
I'm passionate about no-nonsense self-improvement. Too many of us are plagued by faulty thought patterns- I aim to change that!