Last week I traveled to Palm Springs, CA for SIX long-ass days with Tony Robbins for Date With Destiny – a seminar he holds only once a year in the US. After UPW (read about my experience at his Unleash the Power Within seminar), I was pretty excited to learn even more about tearing down limiting beliefs and re-evaluating values to live the life I desire. I read his book, Awaken the Giant Within, and I have to be honest and say that this seminar essentially goes over the same key elements that are in the book. I did gain some other insights and burned about 5000 calories jumping around like a crazy person, but if you want to save yourself $5k (yes, that is the price of this thing), just pick up the book and do the exercises yourself. With that being said, here are some of the main things I took away after 6 days of watching Tony Robbins scream and getting way less then my much needed 7 hours of sleep (since the days went anywhere from midnight to 2am. Seriously).
1. Who’s love did you crave as a child and what needs did that result in?
This was a key lesson early in the seminar – did you value your father or your mothers love? What kind of person did you have to be to get the love and approval of that person? If you had to be very strong and supportive for your depressed mother, or never talk back and get perfect grades for your militant father – you are likely still living the pattern of having to be that kind of person. You also created “needs” you met with certain behaviors that resulted in you feeling good. Tony breaks these needs down as follows:
Myself, like many other people, valued certainty and significance at the highest level. When these are your main driving forces, you likely seek situations where you can control things and where you can feel important or special. Most of my decision making and behavior had the motive of gaining these two things in my life – so even though we may say that the target we are after is more money, losing weight or an amazing relationship – these are all just vehicles that we use to meet our real needs. That’s why you can have all the money in the world or the perfect body and still be miserable, because what you’re really after isn’t being met (which for all of us is ultimately to feel loved).
Tony teaches that although valuing these needs the most may have served us up until this point in certain areas of our lives, they could also be holding us back. Therefore, he asks the question “what do your top two needs have to be now for your life to transform for the better, and if you made this change, what would transform in your life?” For me, putting love and connection in the place of significance and replacing certainty with growth was what would help build the life I most desire.
2. What is your primary question in life?
This was a very valuable activity for me. What is your primary focus in life? What do you find yourself consistently focusing on? You believe that if you live by this question that you’re fulfilling the purpose of your life. You believe that your question leads you to ultimate opportunity or success. If you don’t live by this question, you believe that you will be in massive pain, because you believe that your identity is tied to the question.
My OLD primary question was “How can I prove that I am capable and worthy?”
I felt that if I did not make something big of my life, or if I wasn’t hugely successful that my life would have been wasted. I felt that I would never feel accomplished or respected. The upside of this question is that it has kept me driven, and keeps my standards for myself at a high level. The downside is that putting so much pressure on myself runs the risk of never quite being enough. This question, as you can see, was driven by my aforementioned needs of certainty and significance.
My NEW primary question is “How can I appreciate myself even more in this moment, and how can I appreciate God (or The Universe’s) guidance even more right now?”
The new question helps to put me in a better state, reduces anxiety, and gives me the feeling of calmness that comes with knowing that I am being guided in the right direction, and how far I’ve come in life is proof that I am in fact capable – and I need to appreciate that even more when I start to get into a negative head space.
3. I AM… whatever you attach after the end of this statement is what you’ll become
Tony had us do incantations – a phrase or language pattern that is said out loud and with an engaged physiology – generally after jumping around and always while standing tall. He believes that these are the most powerful tools available for conditioning new beliefs because they are an active use of neurology and physiology. He says that just knowing better will not make you better – you must SPEAK what you wish to become, and with so much emotional intensity that you truly believe in what you are saying. We screamed our incantations repetitively and were encouraged to scream them out during a run, before going to bed or when you wake up. While examples he gave were long and rhymed, I simply chose “I AM CONFIDENT – I AM COURAGEOUS – I AM DETERMINED”, because these are all of the things that I will need to possess in order to live the life that I want for myself. I’ve been trying to do them aloud as often as possible, which is generally when I remember and when I am obviously not in public.
4. Reordering your values
To figure out your values, you can ask yourself the simple question, “What is most important to you in life?” It is going to end up being what you value most – the emotional state that you most desire. You may answer “family, love, money…” but love is really the end value you’re pursuing, where family and money are just the means to trigger that emotional state you desire (for example, love, security, respect, happiness). The lesson here is that often people are so busy pursuing means values like money that they don’t achieve their true desires (end values). Personally, my highest values were security, connection and independence. This is very evident in how I live my life. I am very careful with my money, so that I have financial security, and it also allows me independence. BUT these same values could be holding me back in other aspects of my life. For example, I don’t take risks with my money or in business which holds me back from opportunity. Also, my strong need for independence could hinder me because I need to be able to accept assistance and not be so prideful. I won’t even get into how this has messed with my personal relationships.
The question, then, is what values need to be highest on your list in order to create the life that you desire? What values do you need to move down on your list or add? For me, I removed security and replaced it with growth. I kept connection and added playfulness (because I could use more fun in my life) as well as courage (to take risks). I removed independence completely and also added passion.
Tony makes an important observation, and that is that anytime you have a difficult time making an important decision, you can be sure that it’s the result of being unclear about your values. Reordering values was very important for me to get a clear understanding of what I need to be more open to in my life and the habits and patterns that I need to release. Easier said than done, but having the opportunity to acknowledge things like this are the first step in being able to make changes.
5. What are your rules?
After figuring out our values, Tony explained that we all have created “rules” – which are beliefs about what has to happen in order for us to feel as though our top values are met and we feel good. For example, for someone to feel loved by another person, one person’s rules may be, “we must be able to have intimate conversations, there must be plenty of affection, and they must tell me they love me at least 5 times a day.” While another person’s may be “caring for and appreciating one another.” Which of these two people will feel loved more often? Are your rules perhaps stopping you from experiencing feelings of happiness, love, or success more frequently?
When you structure your life in a way where your happiness is dependent on things you can’t control, you’re bound to experience pain.
With this in mind, Tony had us recreate our rules to make these positive emotions easier to experience every day. For example, “I will feel connection anytime I communicate openly with others OR anytime I notice the warmth and good in others.” Most of us have created so many ways to feel bad and only a few ways to truly feel good – so you could be living a very successful life and feel like you’re a failure if your using impossible rules for yourself. The point here is that if you want to start feeling more positive, healthy emotions – change what needs to happen for you to feel good so that it’s not so damn hard to be happy.
There were many more aspects to this seminar, but these were my main takeaways. He did a full day on relationships, a bunch of interventions and people cried pretty much all day long. I’m not even kidding – people opened up and got extremely emotional. At the end of it, we all made a pretty board with our life mission, our new values, primary question and incantation. This was mine:
So there you have it. I’ll leave you with some quotes and messages from the seminar that I thought were pretty important:
> The quality of your life is in direct proportion to the level of uncertainty that you can comfortably live with.
> If you have pain in any area of your life, it is a call to grow.
> It’s hard to love yourself when you’re not being yourself.
> Success without fulfillment is the ultimate failure.
> You cant be fearful and grateful simultaneously.
Now do your move! Say YES! (My Tony people will get that reference).