I wrote a bit earlier about the limitations of Eckhart Tolle, so I thought I’d follow it up with my take on Anthony Robbins.
Tony Robbins has been an awesome “access point” for many people into the world of personal development. He’s a guy you know loves you even if you’ve never met him. You feel his passion radiating through his books’ pages, and if that weren’t convincing enough, his stage presence absolutely electrifies you.
What’s more, he has that special speaker’s quality that Eckhart Tolle and Wayne Dyer lack, making you feel very uncomfortable to listen to him if you’re not taking action. You can be listening to Personal Power, and if you didn’t do your assignment from the night before, he’ll call you out on it. In the end, you can physically keep listening, but you know you’re just being a coward and that the blame lies on you.
Even better? He gives you techniques to actually get shit done. He shuns “will power,” and thinks it’s ridiculous to expect yourself to do something you don’t have a real passion or motivation to do. Instead he works with the “leverage” principle, discussed at length in Personal Power, Get the Edge, and Awaken the Giant Within.
This concept, labeled Neuro-Associative Conditioning System, works based on the pain/pleasure duality. The premise is all of us are motivated by two forces, your aversion to pain and your attachment to pleasure. If your room is a mess, it’s because you associate more pain than pleasure to cleaning it. Or maybe you have pleasure living in a mess, and not enough pain about the disaster area in your apartment.
Tony Robbins has a lot of cool ideas, but the basis of his system is making life feel bad enough to change it, or making your goal feel sweet enough to keep pursuing it.
A favorite exercise of Robbins is the “Dickens Pattern,” based on the three ghosts of the story “A Christmas Carol.” Suppose you’re 30 pounds overweight. You look at your past and see how much the extra weight has sabotaged your health, relationships, and happiness. You make yourself feel awful. Then you look at the present and look at everything that sucks about your life because you’re fat. Then you look at the future, maybe 5 years later, 10 years later, or even 50 years later, and see what a miserable waste of life you’ve been because you’re a fat mess.
When you finally open your eyes, you’re suddenly all guns blazing as you throw the ice cream out of your house and lock yourself in the gym.
While Robbins’ ability to inspire action has always amazed me, something never quite felt right about using the pain principle so directly. Increasing your pain felt intuitively wrong, but I could never justify why until now.
It wasn’t until I discovered the more holistic spiritual methods of EFT, Sedona Method, and the Release Technique that I realized that avoiding pain and striving for pleasure actually create more problems than they solve.
You don’t solve an unhealthy set of attachments and aversions by adding more to the pile. The only way to correct the imbalance is to eliminate the ones that don’t suit you. I’d even go as far to say that it’s near impossible to go overboard with letting go of your pain/pleasure drivers.
Let’s look at the messy room example. For my whole life, I’ve lived in a mess, cleaning only when guests arrive. With Tony’s help, I fantasized about how much more popular and happy I’d be if I had a clean room. I also imagined how embarrassed I’d be to have a date drop by unexpectedly and be disgusted by the piles of dirty dishes.
Did this help? Just for a little while.
Under Hale Dwoskin’s guidance, I let go of my attachments/aversions to not only having a dirty room, but having a clean room as well.
This means I let go of the pleasure associated with a clean room, as well as the pain. Then I let go of the pleasure of a dirty room, as well as the pain.
Letting go of these neuro-associations made life a lot easier. Now my room practically cleans itself. It’s natural to clean up after yourself, and you only have resistance if you have built up a ton of junk in your mind.
Now how about long term goals like weightloss and wealth?
While applying Tony’s principles can get you far in terms of dieting and working hard, I think they cause you to miss a lot of shortcuts and easy opportunities. It puts emphasis on taking big efforts to get things done, and not so much on just going with the flow to allow what comes. I don’t think an analysis has been done of the cumulative net worths of Tony’s customers vs. Larry Crane and Hale’s, but from the testimonials I’ve seen and heard, I think the Sedona/Release Technique customers are making a lot more money and with a lot less struggle.
Aside from what I’ve just mentioned, I think that the outcome dependence of Tony Robbins’ work really creates barriers to enjoying life and having fun with the process. You’ve committed your life to being painfully incomplete unless you get your goal, so how else can you feel?
The idea that you won’t take proper action unless you feel bad is a myth. You’re not fat because you love cheesy puffs. You’re fat because you are resisting your natural state of health. Maybe you do have pain associated with dieting, and pleasure associated with overeating. However, instead of counterbalancing it with more unhealthy feelings, why not get rid of the problematic states to begin with? You may find this hard to believe, but with a clear emotional slate, a red delicious apple is a heck of a lot more satisfying than a chocolate chip cookie.
Your natural state is rich, happy, successful, and healthy. Whatever Tony has helped you with, he can’t get you the rest of the way.
Consider the other options available.