“Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.” ~ Tony Robbins
In today’s episode, I’m talking all about pain and pleasure, and how to use both to change your life.
Our Journey with Pain and Pleasure
I want to share a bit of our family’s story with you before diving in because I think it’s a great example of what I’m talking about today.
When we had our children, I was a high-school teacher who had never, ever wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. My, my, how things change.
My husband and I had made our family work by taking opposite shifts so that we didn’t have to put our kids in childcare. But at this point, I desperately wanted to stay home with them.
The problem was that we were living beyond our means and spending money we didn’t have to purchase things we didn’t need and couldn’t afford. We were facing around $50K of debt…and here I was, wanting to stay at home with our kids.
This debt was a literal pain on us. We struggled under the weight of it. Our relationship was affected, and the way we talked about money during these years was less than healthy. (To put it nicely.)
When Enough Was Enough
We finally hit a point where enough was enough. The pain of the debt was so great in our lives, and it was stopping us from doing what we wanted most – allowing me to be at home with our children.
We decided to sell some large ticket items, go down to being a one-car family, and start making decisions that led to drastic action. We were so tired of living in the pain that it forced us to action that would change our lives.
We took massive action when our income was at its lowest, but the pain was at its highest. We changed our lives by taking action in the areas that caused the most pain.
In 2 years, we paid off 100% of our debt and we have never looked back.
How Much Pain Will It Take for You to Change?
After years of living this way, we knew something had to change. And although it was affecting our relationship, and even though we were stressed to the max, we didn’t start making changes until the pain of staying the same was greater than the pain of changing.
We couldn’t pay our bills. I stopped opening the mail to see what bills were rolling in…it literally made me sick. Because we were both overspending, we ended up having separate money accounts and constantly blaming each other for the consequences we were facing as a result of our foolishness with money.
If you want to change your life, you have to get to a point where you are sick and tired of the pain, and you have to get to the bottom of what exactly is causing the pain.
What Changes Do You Need to Make?
When you decide to change your life, the first thing to figure out is what you need to change.
We could have paid off all of our debts but continued to live the lifestyle that got us into debt in the first place. And we would have ended up right back in the same situation as before. We had to make changes to how we interacted with money, not just pay off debt.
We began using a budget, setting aside savings for things we would need to purchase in the future, and setting a vision for the big picture. (Thank you Mone Peach).
This was not a short-term plan to pay off debt; this was a digging deep, figure out our issues with money, kind of thing.
So often, we reach crisis mode before we decide to make changes.
We wake up one day and decide to get on the scale, and suddenly realize, holy sh*t, we are 50 lbs overweight. And then, we panic.
That panic mode sends us down paths that aren’t healthy but we honestly just want a quick fix to our problems. We want the weight off and we want it off tomorrow. No.Matter.What.
The problem with this reaction is that we see the weight as a crisis, so we want to alleviate the crisis itself instead of addressing the root causes of what put the weight there.
Just like with my family’s debt problem; the problem wasn’t the debt, the problem was the way we handled money. Until we changed the root problem, we couldn’t expect a different outcome.
When it comes to weight loss, this looks like getting “serious” about weight loss. You lose the 50 lbs and you get to experience what success feels like.
And then, all too often, you forget the pain that preceded the success and you go back to the old behaviors. Which leads to gaining the weight back and entering crisis mode again.
Pleasure vs. Pain
So, I hear you. Okay, Amanda, I get that about needing to change my behaviors. But what if I enjoy my behaviors? What is going to make me change?
This is where pleasure comes in.
Until you hit on something that brings you as much or more pleasure than the old behaviors, you won’t change.
If eating broccoli and salad and salmon doesn’t bring you pleasure, you may be able to sustain it for a week but eventually, you will stop and go through a drive-thru. If you hate exercise, you might force yourself to go to the gym for a month, but eventually, you’ll find an excuse to miss a day and then you’ll miss 2 days and then you don’t go again.
You have to find a way for new behaviors to be more pleasurable than the old ones in order to create lasting change.
Simple Steps to Take Action
If you’re ready to make changes and you want some simple steps to get off on the right foot, consider the following:
- Write it out. If you want to lose 50 lbs, write out, “I want to lose weight, 50 lbs specifically. I want to feel better”
- Identify the pain inaction brings. “I feel embarrassed about not fitting into my clothes. I have trouble moving my body. I’m unable to do the things I truly want to do, like playing with my kids.”
- What pleasure did you gain from not acting? This requires digging deep into your feelings and emotions. Maybe you enjoy eating whatever you want whenever you want. Living in our comfort zone is enough pleasure to keep most of us from changing.
- What are the consequences of not changing? Your weight will likely continue to increase. You will continue to feel worse physically and mentally. Your energy will decrease even more. This can bring on health issues as you age.
- What would it look like if you decided to act? This is the time to dream of what your life would be like if you really took action. What if you began meal planning and committed to moving your body every day? How would you feel? What would change?
Celebration and Reward
It is crucial that as you make changes, you allow yourself to celebrate. You should plan out rewards that you will give yourself as you meet milestones along the way to real change.
When we were paying off all that debt, we gave each other a high-five every time we made another payment on a loan or paid off a credit card. Reaching the end of the month and having money left over meant that our stress levels were lower and we had less conflict. That in itself was a reward.
The pleasure we experienced when we were spending every penny we made and more was nothing compared to the pleasure of having money saved.
Once you have made true and lasting change, the pleasure of transformation is rewarding enough that you never want to go back to what you were before.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
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