In behavioral economics you often encounter the concept of loss aversion. For reasons probably having to deal with evolution (losing territory means losing status, which in the wild means you’re dead meat), we experience far great pain when losing something than we feel joy when gaining something.
Consider that most of us have been in horrible relationships, had crappy jobs, and maybe even had a shitty self-outlook. Why not change? Changing means you’re losing something to gain something else. Logically you should want to change your pathetic self to become a more heroic self, but the fear of losing whatever little you have leads to inaction.
In order to get a person to change, it’s usually not enough to show a person what he will gain. People only generally change when they have hit rock bottom and fear losing more of their life’s savings, their friends or their sense of self.
Tony Robbins has found a way to work around the problem of loss aversion.
Not Changing Will Cost You
Although we don’t often think of it this way, our current body is borrowed from our future body. Someday the person you are today is going to get examined by the person who is 10, 20, or 30 years older. Your old man self will want to know you didn’t save for retirement, why you didn’t take care better of your knees, and why you didn’t experience more out of life when you had the energy. (Although memories are not substation for the present, one day all any of us will have are memories.)
What negative behaviors do you have today? What are those going to cost you in 5, 10, and 20 years?
Consider someone who is fat and eats a diet of processed foods. His lifestyle is going to cost him opportunities for sex. It’s going to cost him bodily decay. It’s going to make him miss out on the ability to feel good when he is older. The fat person will have missed out on so much because of his negative behaviors. Not changing is costly.
Or maybe you’re mean to your wife (or ex-wife). That’s going to cost you intimacy. It’s also going to sour any relationship you might have had with your children. Children who grow into adults don’t love a man who mentally or physically abuses their mother.
Or maybe you won’t take any business risks. People are terrified of risk. (“What if I fail,” is loss aversion causing you to doubt yourself.) Yet what’s the alternative – working for the man like a corporate slave your whole life, having to call in sick to some superior when you’re not going to be at the office, wondering if you’re breaking some HR rule, censoring yourself for fear of losing your job?
Through visualization techniques (you need to attend the seminar to experience the concepts fully), you’re forced to be confronted with everything your negative behaviors will have cost you. Since we usually don’t respond to rewards but instead seek to avoid punishment, these techniques are a breakthrough for most.
“A belief is something about the world that you believe to be true.” Limiting beliefs are a way to protect ourselves from taking any risk. We accept limiting beliefs in order to avoid our own weaknesses and insecurities. They allow us to pretend we are not cowards.
How many men, when receiving obvious buying signals from a woman, will say, “Oh, she’s not looking at me?” Men tell themselves that rather than take a risk of getting reject. (That’s loss aversion, yet again.)
A short man will conclude that men under 6 foot are unable to date attractive women. By accepting this belief he is freed from doing the hard work of approaching and meeting women.
Nearly all limiting beliefs take on a certain form: “I’m not supposed to be x.” Rather than undertake the extremely hard work most of us require in order to achieve x, we use our limiting belief as a cop out. “I’m just not designed that way.” That gives us an excuse to give up, which is easy.
If men who claim they can’t be x spent as much time working through cognitive behavioral therapy work book as they do brooding over their problems, they would find x. But that’s hard as fuck. No thanks. I’m gonna sit here and feel sorry for myself!
My own personal limiting belief is that I’m just a low energy, naturally introverted guy.
After outlining your limiting beliefs, you next need to ask what those beliefs are costing you.
Since I was 14 people told me I could start a cult. I have natural charisma. I would be much richer if instead of avoiding human interaction I embraced it. My limiting belief has cost me a lot of money and opportunities.
Most of the time our limiting beliefs are false. Am I naturally low energy or just childish? A little kid says, “I don’t want to do that,” based on nothing more than his transient feeling or mood. Isn’t it pathetic and unmanly to be a petulant child who won’t do anything he doesn’t want to do? Most of the time we just reel against the unfamiliar. It’s not that we wouldn’t enjoy the experience. It’s that we’re being bratty punks who should be smacked in the mouth.
I am not “naturally” low energy. I’m just a childish whiner who gets into moods and then lets my moods control me. That is absolutely revolting and henceforth unacceptable.
Even when a limiting belief is not false, there’s no need for it to rule you. So what if guys who are taller meet more women. That doesn’t mean no attractive women will like a guy like you. You will have to work harder than others, but if you work hard enough, you will realize that your limiting belief is actually false.
Robbins is known as a “motivational speaker” and “positive thinker.” Bullshit. He forces you to look at the negative garbage that’s deep within your unconscious. Most people lack the courage to attend a seminar and work through their issues.
He is a positive thinker in the sense that he believes all of us have far more potential than we realize. He believes if we change our behavior and destroy our limiting beliefs, it will be possible for us to achieve great things.
Is he right? I certainly think so. Long before knowing anything about Robbins, I was able to overcome some traumatic experiences by welcoming pain.
What if instead of fearing pain like a little bitch and crying about every stupid problem you have, you told yourself, “Growth requires pain.” That is the moral of Conan the Barbarian and is the answer to the Riddle of Steel.
Your behaviors would immediately change, wouldn’t they? Instead of being a weak loser who continued repeating the same patterns of behavior that have led to the rut you’re in, you’d change your behaviors.
After changing your behaviors, you’d notice something “magical” happening. Suddenly your very mood would change.
While a lot of guys think they are “too cool” for Tony Robbins, the truth is that most guys aren’t man enough to examine the weaknesses within themselves and to take immediate and radical action to change their lives.
In America everyone wants to be a birthday boy at his very own pity party.
My view has always been different. You are the lowest life form of a man if you live in a condition worthy of pity.. Dogs left by their owners in animal shelters are pitiable. Children who are abused are pitiable. They lack the ability to change their environments and my heart truly feels for them.
Are you a stray dog who is at the shelter after your owner’s house was foreclosed? Do you feel anxious and abandoned while you sleep on a stone concrete floor rather than on a comfortable dog bed or in a bed with your owner? Are you nothing more than a child who hides after his alcoholic father has had too much to drink? Is that really who you are?
How can you look yourself in the mirror as a man when others have pity for you? How can you actively seek out pity and then call yourself a man?
Robbins offers many useful strategies and in the future I likely won’t allow anyone to complain about anything unless they’ve gone to one of his seminars.
The irony is that most men think they are “too fucking cool” to attend a Tony Robbins seminar. Yet moping around the house is cool? Crying and screaming and having childish outbursts about stupid shit is cool?
Maybe my definition of cool differs from some, but I fail to see how wallowing in self-misery is somehow more cool than taking action to change your life.
Call me uncool if you like, but I’m a believer. Unleash the Power Within was my first Tony Robbins seminar and it won’t be my last. I was able to begin understanding how negative behavior patterns have cost me success and pleasures.
The work has just begun. I welcome the new challenge.
Whether you decide to continue feeling sorry for yourself or changing your life is, of course, up to you.
Read more: Unleash the Power Within.