Making the unpleasant pleasant


What are you like when you need to get up in the morning? Do you press snooze at least twice or do you jump out of bed, clap your hands and say ‘what a great day to be alive!’ If you are the latter you may lose friends quickly…

Having to get out of bed or having to go to a networking event when you are not in the mood can seem like unpleasant experiences. If we strip them down, they are in fact just experiences and it is we who give them the label of being pleasant or unpleasant.

Think of an experience or action that you love to do. Do you see the image clearly? Is it in colour? How does it make you feel? Now think of an experience that you don’t like. How is the image different from the first? How does your posture change?

Now, take that upleasant image (e.g. a networking event) and give it the characteristics of the pleasant image (e.g. a great holiday) – make the image sharp, colourful and full of energy. How do you feel now?

I tried this technique this morning and jumped out of bed as if I had been plugged into the mains.

If we can trick the mind, which one is more intelligent?


4 thoughts on “Making the unpleasant pleasant

  1. I used to jump out of bed until I saw a documentary where a doctor said that it was healthier to wake up slowly. So what I do now is to enjoy the five or ten minutes I stay in bed by being grateful for the day, smile at the new day and just feel good. Being in that mood, I then get up.


  2. Have you read much about “tapping”? Had never heard of it until yesterday’s Times or Evening Standard – forget which. It’s really close to the kind of re-programming of experiences that you talk about here. All I can say is that I get nervous every time I meet a client, even socially, and yet whenever I leave said situation it’s nearly always generated some new business. I have recently realised by myself that I associate my own client meetings with the often cringing client meetings I was obliged to attend as an employee with a company for many years. Where I was vulnerable because of my employer’s lack of organisation. Since I have realised that’s what it’s really about, meetings have been immeasurably more enjoyable and I sleep easier the night before.


    • Thanks for your comment Dave. I have heard of tapping, and my understanding is that there are similarities between this method and anchoring in NLP. Anchoring involves generating feelings of when you have been in a positive state (high levels of confidence etc) and then pressing on a part of the body (this could be one of your knuckles) whilst you are experiencing these feelings. This physical action then acts as an anchor which you can use to recreate the same feelings when you need them. You can also use this technique to reduce feelings of anxiety associated with other situations – such as client meetings. It is great that you have managed to see the cause in your own example. Anchoring could help you to counter act any future feelings of anxiety. It’s all about tricking the brain into realising that the experience is not a genuine threat to our survival. Steven Johnson describes the power of our fear response brilliantlyin “Mind Wide Open.”


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