In many ways, Tim Ferriss carries on a tradition well established by Tony Robbins: finding people at the top of their fields, determining what makes them tick, and then passing those insights along to a general audience.

After Ferriss, who wrote the best-seller “The 4-Hour Workweek,” interviewed Robbins in 2014 for his podcast, he enrolled in one of Robbins’ seminars — the four-day Unleash the Power Within, which starts at $800 for admission — to experience the events that made Robbins famous.

Ferriss wrote in his book “Tools of Titans” that his friend Navin Thukkaram, a successful investor and entrepreneur, has attended Unleash the Power Within 11 times and considers a particular exercise “his main reason for attending every year.”

The Dickens Process, as the exercise is called, is done in a venue typically packed with a few thousand people. But while Ferriss said the crowd atmosphere and Robbins’ presence onstage enhances the experience, the basics can be completed on one’s own.

The exercise gets its name from Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” in which Scrooge is visited by ghosts showing him his past, present, and future.

“In the Dickens Process, you’re forced to examine limiting beliefs — say, your top two or three handicapping beliefs — across each tense,” Ferriss wrote. Then, take a look at each belief in depth and answer the following questions, as remembered by Ferriss:

  1. “What has each belief cost you in the past, and what has it cost people you’ve loved in the past? What have you lost because of this belief? See it, hear it, feel it.”
  2. “What is each costing you and people you care about in the present? See it, hear it, feel it.”
  3. “What will each cost you and people you care about one, three, five, and 10 years from now? See it, hear it, feel it.”

After going through the pain of dwelling on your handicapping beliefs, you then create new beliefs to replace them, Ferriss wrote.

Ferriss shared one of his responses: “One of my top three limiting beliefs was ‘I’m not hardwired for happiness,’ which I replaced with ‘happiness is my natural state.’”

Ferriss said the exercise lasts about 30 minutes and leaves the majority of the audience emotional. He followed up with Robbins months after he attended the event to ask him why the Dickens Process was so effective.

“When we feel pain in one time zone — meaning past, present, or future — we just switch to another time zone rather than change, because change brings so much uncertainty and so much instability and so much fear to people,” Robbins said. The exercise prevents you from escaping yourself.

Ferriss wrote that in the year after going through the Dickens Process, “I’ve never felt consistently happier in my entire adult life.

“It’s incredible what can happen when you stop driving with the emergency brake on,” he said.

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Originally published at on January 18, 2017.

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