If you gauge the impact of the biggest names in psychology by the number of people they have influenced, Tony Robbins would be in the top 10 of the last century along with people like Freud, Jung, and Skinner. This is a little bit ironic because Richard Bandler and John Grinder invented neuro-linguistic programming, which is the art Robbins practices when he works. However, despite the fact that both of them are geniuses, neither has Robbins’ gift for explaining the uses and concepts of their work in a way that can be useful to the average person. If you pay attention to these ideas championed by Tony Robbins, your life will never be the same.
1. “Nothing in life has any real meaning except the meaning you give it.”
Very few things have any intrinsic meaning. This is one of the reasons that people can have such radically different reactions to the same event. Is being turned down by a woman a devastating rejection or evidence that the woman has poor taste in men? If everybody is watching you as you get ready to do a speech, does that mean you may crack because the pressure is on or that you are about to give a great performance because you thrive on pressure? Is buying a poor family Christmas gifts a waste of your money or an act of generosity that will bring good karma into your life?
There is no “correct” answer to any of these questions, so since that’s the case, why not choose the interpretation that best serves you and helps you move toward your goals?
2. “If we link massive pain to any behavior or emotional pattern, we will avoid indulging in it at all costs. We can use this understanding to harness the force of pain and pleasure to change virtually anything in our lives.”
Let’s say you’re trying to lose weight, but time after time, you keep going to Western Sizzler because you have a weakness for greasy food and dessert. Want to break that bad habit? Then the next time you’re in the restaurant, stand up and shout, “I am a PIG. A P-I-G, PIG!” Once you humiliate yourself in that way, you’ll probably find that your addiction to Western Sizzler is done for good.
Maybe that’s an extreme example, but the philosophy is the same no matter what type of behavior you’re trying to reduce or increase. If you want to increase a behavior, reward yourself, even if it’s just by saying something positive to yourself like, “Good job! That’s what winners do!” There are many people who cut themselves with knives to reduce tension. Why do they do something so self-destructive? Because they have a positive association with that unhealthy activity in their mind. If someone can pull that off, why can’t you keep working until you feel better about yourself every time you exercise or make a sales call?
3. “Questions are the answer.”
We tend to answer whatever questions we ask ourselves, whether they’re productive or unproductive. If you ask yourself, “Why am I such a loser?” or “Why do I always fail?” your brain will produce an answer. Similarly, if you ask yourself, “What can I learn from this?” or “How do I make an extra $500 a week?” your brain will answer that as well. The quality of the questions you consistently ask yourself will have an enormous impact on your life.
4. “All change happens in an instant.”
Stories about people who’ve tried and failed for years to quit smoking or get their diet under control having everything change in a heartbeat after they get a terrible medical diagnosis are so common that they’ve become a cliché. Similarly, get sick and throw something up and you may find yourself completely uninterested in eating whatever you barfed. I haven’t eaten hot dogs in years because of an incident like that. Even the changes that seem to take a long time ultimately happen in an instant. One moment you’re a person who drinks or who’s afraid to speak up for yourself and the next you’re not. What this means is that with enough emotional intensity, change doesn’t have to take years. It can be a quick process.
5. “Your emotions are nothing but biochemical storms in your brain and you are in control of them at any point in time.”
The example Robbins likes to use with this is a client who came to see him. The woman sat down and immediately started blubbering and Robbins looked at her coldly and said, “EXCUSE ME, but we HAVEN’T STARTED YET!” The woman replied, “Oh, sorry,” and immediately stopped crying. Why was she able to do that without even thinking about it or realizing that she could? Because she had much more control over her emotions than she realized.
So do you.
You don’t have to respond with sadness or anger at an upsetting event because you can CHOOSE how you react. This sounds almost unbelievable before you try it, but with a little practice, you can get very good at it.
This originally appeared at PJ Media.