The emotional states you experience in each moment
By changing any one of the five elements—whether it’s a core belief or rule, a value, a reference, a question, or an emotional state—you can immediately produce a powerful and measurable change in your life.
Everything you and I do, we do either out of our need to avoid pain or our desire to gain pleasure.
For most people, the fear of loss is much greater than the desire for gain.
Why is it that people can experience pain yet fail to change? They haven’t experienced enough pain yet; they haven’t hit what Robbins calls emotional threshold.
If we link massive pain to any behavior or emotional pattern, we will avoid indulging in it at all costs.
It’s our neuro-associations— the associations we’ve established in our nervous systems—that determine what we’ll do.
Any time we’re in an intense emotional state when we’re feeling strong sensations of pain or pleasure, anything unique that occurs consistently will become neurologically linked.
Most of us base our decisions about what to do on what’s going to create pain or pleasure in the short term instead of the long term.
It’s not actual pain that drives us, but our fear that something will lead to pain. And it’s not actual pleasure that drives us, but our belief—our sense of certainty—that somehow taking a certain action will lead to pleasure.
We’re not driven by reality but by our perception of reality.
Remember, anything you want that’s valuable requires that you break through some short-term pain in order to gain long-term pleasure.
It’s not the events of our lives that shape us but our beliefs as to what those events mean.
It’s never the environment; it’s never the events of our lives, but the meaning we attach to the events—how we interpret them—that shapes who we are today and who we’ll become tomorrow.
Beliefs are the guiding force that tells us what will lead to pain and what will lead to pleasure.
Whenever something happens in your life, your brain asks two questions:
Will this mean pain or pleasure?
What must I do now to avoid pain and/or gain pleasure?
The challenge is threefold:
Most of us do not consciously decide what we’re going to believe
Often our beliefs are based on misinterpretation of past experiences
Once we adopt a belief, we forget it’s merely an interpretation.
Global beliefs are the giant beliefs we have about everything in our lives: beliefs about our identities, people, work, time, money, and life itself, for that matter.
These giant generalizations are often phrased as is/am/are: “Life is…” “I am…” “People are …”
If you can think of an idea as being like a tabletop with no legs, you’ll have a fair representation of why an idea doesn’t feel as certain as a belief. Without any legs, that tabletop won’t even stand up by itself. Belief, on the other hand, has legs. If you really believe, “I’m sexy,” how do you know you’re sexy? Isn’t it true that you have some references to support the idea—some experiences in life to back it up? Those are the legs that make your tabletop solid, that make your belief certain.
Sometimes we gather references through information we get from other people or from books, tapes, movies, and so on. And sometimes, we form references based solely on our imagination.
The strongest and most solid legs are formed by personal experiences that we have a lot of emotion attached to because they were painful or pleasurable experiences.
If you develop the absolute sense of certainty that powerful beliefs provide, then you can get yourself to accomplish virtually anything, including those things that other people are certain are impossible.
I’ve classified beliefs into three categories: opinions, beliefs, and convictions.
An opinion is something we feel relatively certain about, but the certainty is only temporary because it can be changed easily.
A belief, on the other hand, is formed when we begin to develop a much larger base of reference legs, and, especially, reference legs about which we have strong emotions.
A conviction, however, eclipses a belief primarily because of the emotional intensity a person links to an idea. A person holding a conviction does not only feel certain but gets angry if their conviction is even questioned. A person with a conviction is unwilling to ever question their references, even for a moment; they are totally resistant to new input, often to the point of obsession.
Someone with a conviction is so passionate about their belief that they’re even willing to risk rejection or make a fool of themselves for the sake of their conviction.
So how can you create a conviction?
Start with the basic belief
Reinforce your belief by adding new and more powerful references
Then find a triggering event, or else create one of your own. Associate yourself fully by asking, “What will it cost me if I don’t?” Ask questions that create emotional intensity for you.
Finally, take action. Each action you take strengthens your commitment and raises the level of your emotional intensity and conviction.
The way to expand our lives is to model the lives of those people who are already succeeding. It’s just a matter of asking questions: “What do you believe makes you different? What are the beliefs you have that separate you from others?”
At the end of each day, Tony asks himself these questions:
NAC is a step-by-step process that can condition your nervous system to associate pleasure with those things you want to continuously move toward and pain with those things you need to avoid in order to succeed consistently in your life without constant effort or willpower.
We all want to change either 1) how we feel about things or 2) our behaviors.
Each time we experience a significant amount of pain or pleasure, our brains search for the cause and record it in our nervous systems to enable us to make better decisions about what to do in the future.
Any time you experience significant amounts of pain or pleasure, your brain immediately searches for the cause. It uses the following three criteria:
Your brain looks for something that appears to be unique.
Your brain looks for something that seems to be happening simultaneously.
Our ability to change the way we feel depends upon our ability to change our submodalities.
You’ve got to be in a determined state in order to succeed.
I began to realize that thinking itself is nothing but the process of asking and answering questions.
Quality questions create a quality life.
A genuine quality of life comes from consistent, quality questions.
Questions accomplish three specific things:
Questions immediately change what we’re focusing on and, therefore how we feel
Questions change what we delete
Questions change the resources available to us
You and I can change how we feel in an instant just by changing our focus.
One of the ways that I’ve discovered to increase the quality of my life is to model the habitual questions of people I really respect.
The words you habitually choose also affect how you communicate with yourself and, therefore, what you experience.
People with an impoverished vocabulary live an impoverished emotional life; people with rich vocabularies have a multi-hued palette of colors with which to paint their experience, not only for others but for themselves as well.
Simply by changing your habitual vocabulary—the words you consistently use to describe the emotions of your life—you can instantaneously change how you think, how you feel, and how you live.
If we want to change our lives and shape our destiny, we need to consciously select the words we’re going to use, and we need to constantly strive to expand our level of choice.
How do we know if a rule empowers or disempowers us? There are three primary criteria:
It’s a disempowering rule if it’s impossible to meet.
A rule is disempowering if something that you can’t control determines whether your rule has been met or not.
A rule is disempowering if it gives you only a few ways to feel good and lots of ways to feel bad.
Once we design our values, we must decide what evidence we need to have before we give ourselves pleasure. We need to design rules that will move us in the direction of our values, that will clearly be achievable, using criteria we can control personally so that we’re ringing the bell instead of waiting for the outside world to do it.
If you ever feel angry or upset with someone, remember it’s your rules that are upsetting you, not their behavior.
The “must” and the “must never” rules are threshold rules; the “should” and “should never” rules are personal standard rules.
Design your rules so that you’re in control so that the outside world is not what determines whether you feel good or bad. Set it up so that it’s incredibly easy for you to feel good and incredibly hard to feel bad.
The key is to expand the references that are available within your life. Consciously seek out experiences that expand your sense of who you are and what you’re capable of, as well as organize your references in empowering ways.
Limited references create a limited life. If you want to expand your life, you must expand your references by pursuing ideas and experiences that wouldn’t be a part of your life if you didn’t consciously seek them out.
We all will act consistently with our views of who we truly are, whether that view is accurate or not.
As we develop new beliefs about who we are, our behavior will change to support the new identity.
If you’ve repeatedly attempted to make a particular change in your life, only to continually fall short, invariably, the challenge is that you were trying to create a behavioral or emotional shift that was inconsistent with your belief about who you are.