I’ve just finished reading Anthony Robbins’ book Awaken the Giant Within. Tonyis dynamic life coach. The subtitle to this book reads “How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny!” Like most
other self-help books Awaken the Giant Within advocates making changes that will have long term impact on your life. Unlike some other self-help books, Tony gives us reasons as to why the changes will be effective.
I recommend reading this book for two reasons: First, Tony explains not only the how, but the why. If you are like me, the “why” sometimes is more important the “how.” Tony also explains the importance of values and our value system. Values define us. They make us who we are. It’s likely all of us would benefit by a few value changes. Living by a standard of high values ensures a meaningful and fulfilling life.
The how and the why
We usually don’t think about it, but there’s always a reason we do or don’t do something. Tony Robbins explains that we do what we do in order to avoid pain or to gain pleasure—sometimes both. He wants us to be conscious of those associations and use them—even to the point of assigning them to habits we want to instill or eliminate. Tony further explains how we can change our behavior using these pain/pleasure associations.
Take bad habits… We all have habits that inhibit success or are in some way detrimental. It could be over-eating, or smoking, or procrastinating, or something else. The bad habit could be anything. According to Tony Robbins, if we associate enough pain with an unwanted habit, we will reach a point at which we can no longer tolerate the pain. When the behavior brings us to that level of pain, we’ll quit doing it. The challenge comes in making an association strong enough to reach that level. Tony addresses this in his book.
Do you have the same question I did? I wondered why we allow bad behaviors to become habits.
In Awaken the Giant Within Tony explains that at sometime we must have associated the activity with pleasure—enough that we were inclined to repeat it in order to bring more pleasure. So, when you want to break a habit, you have to associate the behavior with pain—so much pain that you become unwilling to repeat it. When we reach the point that the associated pain becomes intolerable, we change our behavior to something that brings pleasure; we break the old habit.
Here are a few (greatly abbreviated) examples of pain/pleasure association and its effect from the book:
1) You procrastinate. You know you should do whatever it is that you are putting off. BUT. YOU. DON’T. Why? Tony Robbins explains why people procrastinate: At some level they believe there would be more pain involved in doing it now than in doing it later. When/if you perform the task sometime later, you will have come to the decision (probably subconscious) that there would be more pain in not doing the task, than in doing it.
2) What about filing your taxes? Many people wait until the last minute to file. Does waiting change anything? No, not a thing. People who wait have at some level decided that it will be more painful to do their taxes promptly than to wait until later. (I’m interjecting here: The perception of pain could be so great that some people put off filing indefinitely. Now that could produce some real financial/legal) pain.)
3) And then, there’s dieting. You may need to lose weight. You might even acknowledge the fact. But, until you decide that carrying around the extra pounds is more painful than doing what is required to lose them, (or how losing weight could give you pleasure) you’re not going to pursue change.
In Awaken the Giant Within Tony Robbins goes into great detail about the association of pain or pleasure with behavior and the decisions we make (and by extension, our successes and failures). He also presents a means of using those associations to initiate changes that can enhance the rate of success over failure.
My two cents
Have you ever known any one that abruptly made a change in their life? Maybe they quite smoking, took up jogging, or suddenly gained a lot of weight. The change could happen in any aspect of their life. It could be a good change, or maybe, not so good. The point is a change has been made.
If you ask them, “Why the change?” they will give you reasons: Smokers often claim they quit for financial or health reasons. They might say, “My wife complains about the smell.” A new jogger might want to “get healthy” or lose weight. In the case of someone who’s gaining an unhealthy amount of weight, it may be that they are “Under pressure at work and just can’t make the time prep and eat healthy anymore.” (In truth, it may not be that they can’t, but won’t; because of the “pressure” they just don’t want one more thing to do. It’s easier to grab the first thing at hand and veg out in front of the TV.) Tony Robbins says those answers indicate the people are trying either to avoid pain or to seek pleasure. When you read the book, you will find which of those urges he considers to be the stronger.
The section on values is top shelf. I think everyone could benefit from studying this section of Awaken the Giant Within.
What is important to you? What do you live for, and what do you stand for? Those are your values.
Toney Robbins tells a story about values that almost everyone I know can relate to. I’m going to paraphrase the story: There was a young woman that wanted to help people. Helping people was important to her. She decided to become a lawyer. She made this decision because as a youth she had met a lawyer who used his practice to help people. Now, as this young woman pursued her career, she got caught up first in office politics and later was offered a partnership. Her days were full of meetings, protocol issues, and the details of office management. Eventually, she became so caught up networking with other law firms, businesses, and government agencies that she no longer met with clients.
Financially, she became very successful; she earns a lot of money. But, she’s unhappy and unfulfilled. Side-tracked by financial security, she no longer focused on her primary value for becoming a lawyer—to help people. It is important to recognize difference between our core values and not allow them to be usurped by accomplishments incurred as we pursue those values.
In order to have a fulfilling life, you must make your goals value oriented. Set standards for yourself according to your values and live those standards.
Tony devotes a lot of space in this book Awaken the Giant with in to values. It would be well worth your time to read it, and participate in the exercises.
The first time I read Awaken the Giant Within, I had borrowed it from the library. I hadn’t even heard of it. I was just browsing through the stacks and found the title enticing. As soon as I finished it, I bought my own copy. I wanted to read it again, and make notes in the margins, and highlight important points. There is so much information covered, it’s just not possible to get it all the first time. Not only did I read the book again (and again), I’ve read it numerous times (three times this year alone).
Because I think kicking bad habits and living a fulfilling life are huge challenges for most people—including me—I’ve reported on two sections I’ve found to be very helpful—one on the how and why of change and one on values. Tony addresses these issues and presents ways to make changes so you can have real meaning in your life. He provides so much to think about that I can’t possibly cover all the details. He also addresses other issues.
I highly recommend reading Awaken the Giant Within.