Usually, things that bring us immediate satisfaction are the things that, in the long run, will cause us problems. Rationally, we know that things like overeating candy, smoking, and playing games for long hours are not suitable for us. But why do we still follow any negative pattern?
The answer is quite simple. Our brain automatically chooses pleasure instead of pain. If you want to manage your habits, you need to learn how to handle: pain and pleasure.
This leads to a direct question: How do I associate pain with something I love? For instance, eating candy?
This reflection is critical. Maybe there isn’t an immediate answer, but it’s essential to reflect on it. Imagine that you are in front of your favorite candy, you are on a diet, shouldn’t eat it. How can you manage this situation? How can you put pain in eating that delicious thing which gives you so much pleasure?
Stop, Breathe and Reflect on your Negative Pattern
And here is one of the secrets. We humans can project our life into the future. We can foresee the consequences of a particular attitude.
This is precisely what you have to do. Before taking any action, you can and must think about the consequences. And choose the path it’s more convenient for you, the one that’s more aligned with your goals.
The Truth about Pleasure and a Negative Pattern
Back to the question: How do I associate pain with the candy I love?
The reality is that it is already associated with pain. The pleasure of eating candy lasts 5 minutes. On the other hand, the pain associated with it lasts hours, even days. How many times you did something, and right after, you thought: “I shouldn’t have done that.”
Yes, as quick as a lightning bolt, pleasure becomes a pain.
Do not allow yourself to take action, and only then think about the consequences. Be clear about what pain you will have once you finish that candy – five minutes of pleasure and the rest of your life of misery.
Your Brain is a Repetition Machine
The more you repeat an action, the easier it gets. Our brain has the power of turning repeated efforts into automatic actions. Do you remember how much attention was required to drive a car? After some time, you drive without even realizing you are in the driver’s seat.
We become what we repeatedly do.Sean Covey
Every time you fail and eat the candy, you tell your brain you’re weak. And this is very bad because you will believe you are.
Don’t let immediate pleasures determine your routine, attitudes, and lately, define the person you are.
Do not allow this to happen, be more assertive, be the person who controls your brain. Your brain becomes stronger and stronger.
Exercise your Power of Choice
Write in your journal the negative habits and the pain they cause.
- Sweet = “Some pain for you.”
- Procrastination = “Some pain for you.”
- And so on…
The more you understand and feel the pain, the easier it will become for you and your brain to say no to fleeting pleasures.
Another easy exercise is setting up a visualization board. If you’re on a diet, add nice pictures of healthy foods and healthy people eating healthy food. If it’s about procrastination, add active people, successful people to it. Look at your sentences and mood board every day, multiple times per day.
Your brain is a powerful machine. Unlock its barriers and put it to work in your favor; you’ll become a person without limits! Your future begins today!
Special thanks to: Anthony Wright and Jamie Street.
More tips on how to change a habit?
Download a summary of Charles Duhigg’s bestseller, “The Power of Habit,” and learn more about how your brain works.