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Previous: Healthy Pride

Pleasing Yourself

Hmmm... Pleasing Yourself. This sounds bad on so many levels - But we are actually really bad at it!

Firstly it sounds "Selfish", and we hears choruses from our past saying - you shouldn't please yourself - you job is to please others!

You know - the Golden Rule "Do unto others as you would do unto yourself" and "Love your neighbour as yourself". (NB: Notice that little connecting word - AS)

For generations we have been taught to please others so that Karma will somehow give it back to you, but there are those who just give, and yet so many out there just take. Why on earth would we be taught to do that? Do we really think that by standing on a street corner and handing out $20 notes to people will ever lead you to becoming rich? People are glad to take the money, but can't understand why you would want anything back - you freely just gave it away, it must be your fault for expecting anything in return! Of course that would never happen - but giving our pleasure away and expecting it back, that happens all the time.

For me, being Selfish has nothing to do with pleasing yourself, but its what we do with it next that matters.

Being Selfish is not to do with accepting pleasure or pleasing yourself, it is to do with keeping the pleasure all to yourself. Perhaps this is just as true with money - but that is not surprising if we still believe in self entitlement and that we deserve it! We still believe its up to others to please us!

But this means we never learn how to please ourselves, or even ever to learn to understand anything about Pleasure.

So how do we begin?

First of all, Keep it Safe

Again before we start, we need to be able to keep ourselves safe. If we are unstable, or in an unstable situation, we need to develop safe boundaries around us or finding someone who can help us to be safe.

First exercise: Practice Liking new things

Liking - such a funny word. But "To Like" is a verb - a doing word. You can't "Have a Like", yet that is exactly how we think of it - we convert the word into a noun. Just like "To Run" - you have "have a run" - you are either "running" or "have had a run". So when we are asked to find "What do we like?" we write a list of things we think we "have", but not what we do.

So to discover and understand pleasure, the first thing we need to do is to find what please us. Small things, little things everyday, all the time. If we listen to our feelings, there must be a flood of things we both Like and Dislike flooding in at all times. This is and exercise that is in modern terms called "Mindfulness" but has always been around. We need to connect our consciousness to our sense of feeling and just look for pleasure.


Just explore it, discover its flavour, ask how big it is, how we react to it, what do we associate with it, do we value it?

Maybe write it down, write a list or even talk about it with others. But continue to explore what pleasure really is, how to find it, and how to let it go without doing anything else other let it linger in our memory.

Fortunately, doing this so far is safe, and should not be a problem. We don't have to explore more difficult emotions such as pain or anger (yet) and is a necessary first step. Once we have learnt to understand Pleasure, it becomes easier to explore the others later

The Problem of Pride

As we have said, Pride continually gets in the way, even when exploring Pleasure. Our Pride expects others to please us anyway - so why should we be exploring Pleasure anyway?

But there are other problems:


Pleasing others has its downfall in not only hoping (or indeed expecting) others to please us back, but also with Guilt. Guilt is hard to define, but there is no doubt it drives us to perpetually and relentlessly please others, but we are driven by the thought that we are actually Owed something in return. We are not Mother Theresa - we expect something back, but that also completes the circle by feeling as though we Owe others. We recognise the fact we Owe others, but rarely that others owe us - until this is very often so painfully denied to us. As this is often very deeply unconscious, the pain is deeply entrenched. Guilt is a real problem with pride, and gets in the way.


Blame is to do with Anger - anger at others and anger at ourselves. The more we blame others, the more we blame ourselves. "Always two there are - no more, no less" says Yoda. And this is just as true here. Anger is often a response to getting hurt - helping us to fight back and recover. If we don't know what we are fighting or how to recover, the anger is often lashed out at those around us - and usually those closest to us. We hate to admit we are at fault, that we have made a mistake - as our Pride says we are perfect and always right. So we get into arguments, fights, and often worse. But the external blame is always a two way attack - we just as much blame ourselves. We turn the Anger back onto itself to hurt ourselves, even Punish ourselves (Hmm... reminiscent of Guilt isn't it). We do this supposedly as we can't cope with a hurt that comes from a hidden source - at least this way we know why we are hurting, and the new hurt covers up the original one, but does nothing to solve the problem or mistake that caused the hurt to start with.

Both forms of blame can become extremely dangerous, and all forms are unsafe.


Fear leads us to avoid - hopefully things that caused us pain or danger in the past. But our avoidance very often goes above and beyond its original intention.

Its amazing how hard it is to Find Likes - and how easy it is to put it off, out of consciousness. But put it off we do yet such a simple exercise!

Each of these Pride issues is based on the expectation that others should please you

Happy Thoughts

Learning to find happy thoughts is an important part of learning about pleasure.

It's a simple thing really - finding a like, putting it to memory, and recalling it when needed when there are few pleasures around.

Most people think of big things - our children, our pets or favourite things - but it can be anything, and probably should any pleasure that we have had.

Learning to Play

Play sounds so childish - surely we can't seriously do this as adults. But there are important lessons to learn from play which we need to relearn and rediscover - may be this is the beginning of brain storming - coming up ideas and thoughts just to test them out, no matter how strange they may be.

Playing is really just taking something we like, or like doing, and studying it, imagining what we could do with it, doing a few simple tasks without expecting anything out of it, all to just to see what happens. Play is not serious, but is meant to be enjoyable and intentional. We need to work hard at it and allow our play to develop - and that is its purpose - to find where our pleasure takes us. If it becomes unsafe or dangerous, we need to let it go. If it continues to be enjoyable, we may have to develop it further.

One of the best ways to relearn how to play - is to ask a child! See if you can find one.

Finding wants

Wants are something we can look forward to - it is the beginning of our ability to think of Pleasure in the future, but have not yet let go of it.

So often we ask people to write down their goals so they can develop better plans for the future. But this is a problem - our goals are usually imprints by others, our families, or even society as a whole. Our goals need to be based on our wants, not others. And our wants need to be based on our likes. So that when we achieve our goals, we are the ones who get the pleasure out of it - not someone else. Why would we keep trying to achieve goals when we get nothing out of it.

So our wants are likes that we have found that we can imagine in the future.

Chores then Rewards

Up until this stage we have keeping our Pleasure in the present here and now - but we to learn how to let go of our pleasure for just a short time while doing some task that may be less pleasurable - or even somewhat painful.

As a Doctor, we do this with children who have injections. We show them a Lolly they will get once they have had the needle, perform the unpleasant task, and then encourage them to eat it. (Some use coloured bandaids instead as out Dentist friends don't like us using lollies as a reward!)

We need to learn how to put off our pleasure - delay our gratification - so we can eventually learn how to manage our other emotions. While Pleasure remains as an immediate reward, our other emotions also will remain as instincts leading us to fight or run away.

So whenever we need to perform some less than pleasant task - merely find a simple pleasure you can do AFTER performing the task. So have the cup of coffee AFTER doing some housework and so on. 


If we have been dutiful to our task exploring and playing with out pleasures, we are depositing more and more pleasure into our memories, and not into feeding a childish pride. The Pleasure can then return from our memories in a new form - as ideas that grow and pop up. 

However there is a warning - not all of our ideas are good or workable!

When packing up to move we find we have too much "stuff" to move and so need to spend considerable time sorting things out, keeping what is good or fixable and throwing out that which is trash.

The same three groups exist with our ideas: A third are good and worth developing; another third are worthy of consideration but need fixing or  put on the shelf for later; and yet another third are awful and need to be thrown out completely. The trouble is that our own ideas always seem so sweet that we think that all are worthy. So we need someone else to listen to our ideas and tell us which are good and which aren't. As humans, we seem quite incapable of doing this by ourselves!

Also strangely, it seems that ideas a few to come across - our society so often seems just to remake the old ideas over and over again. So if you do have ideas, don't be frightened of people taking them or stealing them from you. If they do, it means they have so few themselves - you can always come up with new ideas, and they will become more dependent on you to supply them!

Developing goals

Once we have come up with some good ideas, we can choose to put those into the future as new goals. These goals are not just merely a reward that we receive after doing a chore, but the pleasure is directly related to the work we put in. And we also gain a sense of achievement when our goals are met.

Putting Effort into our goals

So if our goal becomes a pleasure in the future for us to work towards, we need to use our energies and drives - from our Anger - as effort towards the goals, and not to fight others or ourselves. The more energy we can use this way, the more our Anger is used as a purposeful and helpful energy, with less able to be used in a destructive manner.

Learning from mistakes

We  are human. Sometimes we will succeed and sometimes not. Often it is because we made a mistake, but just as often there was an error that could not possibly have been avoided, and we don't succeed. So it seems in life we go two steps forward and then we take one backwards.

Unfortunately we seems to be unable to take any new steps forwards until we have learnt the lesson from going backwards.

What seems even more strange is that we seem to be unable to learn from our two steps forward - we just take those for granted because we just "know" we can succeed!

We should be good at this. Computer games have been around for years and teach us exactly this lesson - trouble is we find it hard to translate back into real life!


If we can break down our goals into small enough steps, we can reach these small goals and earn small achievements as we go. Once we come to achieving our goal, we can at last gain the pleasure that we have earned from the hard work we have put into this. This pleasure is not something anyone can take from us - unlike money or objects. The pleasure can then help us to develop and achieve new goals with boosted energy - as long as we don't let it go a pride that boosts Ego. 

But once we have gained any achievement, we also can gain a greater self esteem and confidence that we did not have before. 

Please note: We do not have any confidence in what we did before we achieve our goals - as we hadn't yet achieved it. Any confidence we may have had prior would have been a false confidence from our Ego - but we don't need confidence to start with.

If we want to start jogging in the mornings, we don't know whether can can do this - but have to set the alarm and force ourselves by shear will power to get out of bed and start running. It takes some weeks, but after awhile, we find ourselves up and running without effort. The same is true for any goal we wish to develop.

Pleasure Relay Race

So learning to use pleasure is a bit like running in a relay race:

First we get ready and wait for it to arrive.

Once it comes, we start to quickly move forward so we can grab the baton (the Pleasure) and pick it up.

When running, we use up the track until we are finished - and similarly absorb the Pleasure as we go.

Once finished we need to hand the baton over to the new runner and stop running - just as we need to let go of the Pleasure and hand it over to the next person.

So we need to initially delay our Pleasure, pick it up, run with it while absorbing it consciously, hand it over and see the result of the race when it is finished.


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