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Jeffrey Hodges: The Power of Pain

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"I don't count my sit-ups.  I only start counting when it starts hurting, because they are the only ones that count."   - Muhammed Ali

Pain is a powerful teacher, and used wisely can help you achieve your dreams.  Learn how to use pain to overcome procrastination, self doubt and poor motivation.

We've all experienced pain - the physical pain of injury or extreme exertion;  the emotional pain of a disappointing performance or expectations dashed;  the pain of rejection.

While it is natural to avoid pain and seek pleasure, to be truly successful we want to change our automatic reactions to pain. But how do you do that?

Most pain is imagined pain

Recognise that most pain is imagined pain, not real physiological pain.

Humans are unique in the animal kingdom in that we have the capacity to react physiologically as intensely to imagined scenarios, as we do to 'real' events.  This is however, a double edged sword - we can use this positively to build confidence and motivation, or when used wrongly, leads to self doubt, apathy and quitting.

Often when you set a goal - whatever it is - you will encounter challenges, hurdles and resistance from both within yourself and from others.  Inner resistance can be labelled lots of things :  procrastination;  doubt;  lack of clarity;  unconfidence;  hesitation;  uncertainty;  whatever. Essentially it's just FEAR. Fear of success;  fear of failure;  fear of the unknown;  fear of rejection.  In other words fear of some kind of pain - usually imagined pain, not real pain at all. In other words, you envisage that the actions that you're proposing will somehow lead to pain of some kind.  How are you making the situation painful ... or more painful than it needs to be? It's easy to imagine more negatives than there are in reality.


Challenge your beliefs

The only way to deal with fear is to confront it head on. To do that, you want to learn to picture and imagine and link MORE PAIN TO NOT TAKING ACTION, THAN TO ACTING.   

What do you currently link pain and pleasure to?  What associations have you made in the past that are driving your behaviour and driving your experience of pain? You want to link pain to staying where you are and pleasure to not only where you want to go, but also to the steps that will take you there.

You can do this simply by taking a piece of paper, dividing it into two columns, and writing two lists.  In the left hand column write down all it will cost you if you don't take action - if you stay where you are.  Then in the right hand column list all the benefits you will gain by taking action.

Then take some time to visualise both of these scenarios - and make sure to feel the pain that inaction will lead to, as well as the pleasure of attaining the goal or outcome you want. 

For help with mental imagery, head to our Mental Training Zone to download our latest visualisation tracks narrated by Jeffrey Hodges.

About Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc.(AES) M.Sc.(Hons)
Jeffrey Hodges is a performance consultant to elite athletes, sporting teams and corporate clients. He is the author of the widely acclaimed SportsmindChampion Thoughts, Champion Feelings and Sports Hypnosis training manual - All available in our Mental Training Zone. 

He is a NLP Master Practitioner and Associate Trainer, and his Sportsmind programs have been endorsed by the NSW Dept Sport & Recreation, and recommended by top sports clubs and successful athletes worldwide.

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