Our motivations are governed by two things: Pain and Pleasure - we wish to avoid pain and we wish to attain pleasure.
The thing to remember is: We fear pain more than we love pleasure.
Perhaps one of the best ways to illustrate this is with an addiction. The withdrawal symptoms of smoking are pretty nasty and cause a lot of pain and discomfort. A couple of smokers that I know have told me that they smoke because they "have to" (to avoid pain) and not because they "want to" (to attain pleasure). In fact, when probed further, they say that they derive less and less pleasure from smoking as time goes on but continue to do so in order to avoid the withdrawal symptoms. They are aware that they should stop and often want to stop but the pain is too great for them and they don't.
In our daily lives, we often encounter situations where these motivations come up and the desire to avoid pain seems greater:
Should I stay back to help out? It will make my colleagues happy and grateful but I'm tired.
My friends want to go to that cafe there but I don't like the food they serve. I know I'll disappoint them, though.
I can help my boss with an errand since it's on my way home but I don't want my colleagues to think I'm a bootlicker.
In such situations, we weigh the pleasure we may get against the pain it may cause and often find the pain to be of greater weight.
However, our perceptions are ours and we can always associate more pain with NOT doing what we want to.
So these could be the scenarios:
Should I stay back to help out? It will make my colleagues happy and grateful but I'm tired. BUT if I don't help, they will stay back even longer and I will look like a bad team player.
My friends want to go to that cafe there but I don't like the food they serve. I know I'll disappoint them, though. BUT I could just go and just spend time with them so they don't think I'm a spoilsport. I can always order a drink and grab a bite to eat later.
I can help my boss with an errand since it's on my way home but I don't want my colleagues to think I'm a bootlicker. BUT if I don't help him out, one of my team members may be called away to do it and we have one less person to get this project done.
This is certainly not easy and it requires a fair bit of mental gymnastics. However, as with all things, practice makes perfect.