Pain Avoidance or Pleasure Seeking

Have you ever wondered why you make certain decisions in your life? Do you sometimes question if it was the right decision or if there was another option that would have been better? NLP life coaches are able to help you identify and empower your unconscious decision-making strategies.

The truth is, our decision-making process is influenced by two powerful forces that we may not even be aware of. Our entire life, we’re either running away from potential pain (Pain Avoidance) or running towards pleasure (Pleasure Seeking). To put it more directly, you could say, Fear and Pleasure.

Have you ever put off doing work until right before a deadline and then just got on with it? Guess what. The pain of doing the task was greater (Pain Avoidance) than the pleasure of getting it done, right up until the deadline. You’ve done the task because the pain of not having done it, was greater than the pain of doing the task (Pain Avoidance). Get it?

Your subconscious brain protects you by Avoiding Pain

There are two brains that govern our decision-making: the subconscious brain and the conscious brain. The subconscious brain is the first to respond to any situation, and it does so automatically and without conscious thought.

It is in the subconscious that your programming kicks in and steers the direction of your (sub)conscious thoughts. Either to avoid Avoid Pain, or to Seek Pleasure. So in reality. You’re only considering the options that either Seek Pleasure or Avoid Pain. It’s your subconscious brain that decided the direction, the conscious brain will consider the options available. You are NOT the creator of your own life.

Pain Avoidance

We are constantly seeking to avoid pain or maximize pleasure in our lives. This is why we make the decisions we do.

We don’t like feeling pain, so we avoid it. This can lead us to make some poor decisions, like choosing to not exercise because it’s painful. We would rather just sit on the couch and watch TV. However, if we can learn to embrace the pain and understand that it is leading us to a better life, we can make much better decisions.

Your life coach will help you create leverage over this emotion by asking you questions such as “What will this cost you?”, “What pain has this caused in the past?” or, if this is a Pain Avoidance startegy you want to keep, a life coach could ask you “What will you gain?”, “How does this behaviour serve you?”. These questions help to reinforce the subconscious brain, by adding rational thinking to its decision-making.


Pleasure is another powerful force that governs our decision-making. We love feeling good and so we seek out activities that will give us pleasurable experiences. This can be helpful in moderation, but if we become too focused on seeking pleasure, we can make some bad decisions as well. For example, overeating because it feels good in the moment can lead to long-term health problems down the road.

There are times when it is clear that we should choose pleasure over pain, such as when we are choosing between eating a delicious meal or going hungry. However, there are also times when choosing pain may be the better option, such as when we need to study for an upcoming exam or do something else that is unpleasant but necessary.

What will your life coach do for you?

Certified NLP and ICF life coaches will be able to better guide you through your thinking and to maximize the impact of your subconscious brain. Our life coaches are trained to listen to your programming and to identify, amongst many other things, Pain Avoidance and Pleasure Seeking behaviour.

Our NLP coaches are able to help you weaponize your Pain Avoidance or Pleasure Seeking behaviour for greater, faster and better outcomes. They typically do this by applying a techinque called ‘Creating leverage’.

The questions above are just a few of the many questions life coaches could ask to help you make better decisions, every day.