Seeking Pleasure or Avoiding Pain

Seeking Pleasure or Avoiding Pain
Claudette Pelletier-Hannah

There are two things that drive our decisions – seeking pleasure or avoiding pain. We are either moving towards something we want, or are moving away from something we don’t want, like embarrassment, rejection, or failure, for example.

For some reason we do more to avoid pain than to increase pleasure. That’s kind of a sad approach to life, isn’t it? I’m pretty sure we all do it.

Think about something you want and have not achieved. What is the emotional risk? In other words, what are the experiences or negative feelings you really want to avoid related to that thing you want?

Let’s use weight loss as an example. Perhaps staying large and avoiding the jealousy and resentment from family and friends feels safer. The pleasure and reward of being a smaller, healthier version of your self might not be enough to overcome that potential pain.

Yes, potential pain. Our thinking isn’t always accurate. And our worries don’t usually materialize. But to the brain and body it’s real, and it’s better to avoid the pain. That’s our way of protecting our self.

You can see now why success in any endeavor can be elusive. Once you have awareness of exactly what it is you’re avoiding you can start to whittle away at that resistance. Identifying your pain /resistance /fear is half the battle. The other half is clearing it. And that’s totally achievable.

What are you shooting for?