“Every behaviour has a psychological reward.
If it didn’t have a reward, we wouldn’t do it.
The key is to replace our unhealthy reward systems with healthy ones.”
The rewards can be positive or negative.
Both positive and negative behaviours can give us a positive reward.
Negative behaviours with positive rewards:
Drinking alcohol can dull uncomfortable emotions.
Taking drugs can cause a fleeting state of bliss.
Self-harm can give us the rush of feeling alive.
Seclusion can bring us a feeling of peace or comfort.
Violence can give us a temporary high or feeling of righteousness.
Extremism can lend us a feeling of purpose or inclusion.
The reward reinforces the behavior, both enabling and encouraging us to repeat the behavior. We seek the reward, and don’t know that we can switch to a healthier behavior that will bring us the same reward.
Negative behaviours with negative rewards:
Negative rewards are still rewards, and they propel us just the same as positive ones do. Even though they’re negative, we still want them.
The most important negative reward is the reinforcement of our base fear, what I call our Core Fear. Many of us behave in ways that create experiences that reinforce our internal fear of rejection. In other words, we unconsciously set up scenarios or get involved in ones that will in some way confirm to us that we are indeed being rejected, even when we’re not.
All of the above examples can serve this negative reward purpose of reinforcing our fear. Even relatively simple things like wanting to date the wrong people, or looking for validation from an unsupportive person, or negatively altering our physical appearance in order to deny our desire for acceptance, are designed with the same negative reward in mind.
Other people can unconsciously act out this negative reward system by behaving in ways that reject other people for seemingly insignificant things. The idea behind bullying is often: If I am the rejecter, I won’t be the rejectee. This is not true, of course. But the fear within us is largely unconscious, and so we don’t recognize this dynamic within ourselves. We simply repeat the unhealthy patterns we’ve learned.
With a little self-reflection, we can start to recognize our patterns of behavior and our underlying motivations for the behavior – the rewards.
Once we identify the rewards we seek, we can either switch our behavior to a healthier one, or we can shift the reward itself to a healthier one.
The most effective way to begin making these shifts is by introducing them to ourselves when we are in a state of hypnosis. We shift in and out of a hypnotic state naturally, up to 15 times a day on average. Just before we fall asleep at night, or upon waking in the morning, we are in a hypnotic state where suggestions that we make to ourselves enter into our minds on an unconscious level, the most powerful level to effect change. Likewise, when we are doing any automatic activity, like listening to music, driving the car or watching tv. We can take advantage of this natural state to shift to a healthier state of being.