Take the Opposite!

We spend much of our lives living out the patterns of behavior we have learned in our past, and most of the time this leads to results we dislike. Truly, we are the creators of our experiences, whether we are aware of it or not. Our lives are shaped by many factors, including, but not limited to our biological makeup, family environments, relationships at school and work, how we have learned to cope with adversity, and the degree to which we believe we can be successful and make a difference in the world. We are the product of all our experiences, and we tend to repeat what our experiences have taught us. This is great if our beliefs and experiences are shaping us into who we truly want to be. But often we feel frustrated because we feel stuck in, or do not know how to escape, our self-sabotaging patterns. In a real sense, we are who we are because we believe that is who we should be, must be, or always will be. But, as soon as we believe we can be who we really are, at our core, our old ways of seeing ourselves begin to crumble and reveal our true nature—which has really been there all along. At our core, we have everything we need, but we have covered it up, or allowed the junk of life to cover it up.

The process of growth and change is like moving from darkness to light, but, it is not like turning up a light that is on a dimmer switch. Certainly, turning up the brightness of a light seems somewhat like change; the light gradually fills the previously dark room. But, this analogy has never felt quite right to me. Recently I realized why. The dimmer switch analogy assumes there is no light (or little light) present before the switch is turned on, and up. But, a more accurate picture of growth, where we uncover our true nature, is found in the natural world. The sun is always shining. From our earthly view, it doesn’t seem like the sun is always shining, because the earth’s rotation creates day and night. And, though we might not see the sun at night, on cloudy days, or during storms, the sun is still shining.

Personal change is a lot like this too—clouds rolling away to reveal the sunshine—but instead of happening in the cosmos, it is happening within us. Underneath the night, clouds, and storminess, our true nature is always there, shining, and ready for full expression. We just have to learn how to roll back the veil of clouds to see it, feel it, and let it shine. 

We accept these processes as natural and necessary in the universe, yet, we do not always view our  internal experiences with this extent of acceptance. Instead, often we judge ourselves and others: “Why are you so stormy!” or “Why me? Nothing ever works out right!” But, what if we were to stop judging ourselves and others, and accept our storms are part of life. Sometimes, life is stormy and we do not live from our true, sunlit natures. It is okay! This is part of human experience. Storms come. They teach us. Just as rain is needed for plant life to grow, even our internal storms can help us grow. We can learn from them and let the sun shine.

But, what if the storms stick around—for a long time? If this happens in the natural world, we become weary. We yearn desperately for better weather. And, eventually, it comes. The same is usually true of our internal experiences, but not always! Many people spend all or much of their lives in a storm.

There are many influences on how stormy our lives are, how long storms stick around, and how quickly we see them vanish. For example, judging ourselves and others certainly can keep storms brewing long after they would have otherwise dissipated. But, forgiveness sends the strongest storms spiraling away to reveal the sun. Regardless of the many possible contributing factors, one thing is for certain: It doesn’t have to be this way! If we allow ourselves to, we can learn from every experience we have, even our stormy times, and we can learn how to remove the clouds so we will live increasingly more in alignment with our true nature. Ultimately, we cannot ignore that this is a spiritual process, requiring opening our hearts to something much bigger and more expansive than our limited view of ourselves and life. How do we do this, though?

There are many ways. One way is to Take the Opposite!

The image associated with this post (above) is a window in space-time. It looks as if one can step right through it into another realm. In fact, that is actually possible in a real sense, regarding our lived experience. Using our imagination, we can learn to flip our undesirable experiences, not unlike walking through a portal into a new realm.

Taking the Opposite is an intervention I created to help you do just that.

So, here it is…

Next time you find yourself in an undesirable situation, imagine the opposite! The key is to imagine, rather than to just think. You will call up imagery.

Let’s say, for example, you are very anxious about a project at work. You want to do a good job at it, but you know you definitely do not have enough time to complete it. In fact, the deadline is tomorrow! “The project MUST get done, or else I will be fired!,” you tell yourself. Your heart races, your palms grow sweaty, you feel dizzy, and you can no longer focus. You then tell yourself, “I can’t do this!” You find your fingers in your hair. You have been grabbing tightly like you want to pull it out! “Wow!,” you say, “What is wrong with me!?”

Nothing is wrong with you. But, what do you do now? Plow on through, trying to do the best you can while being miserable and ineffective? Give up? Something else? There is a better way:

Step through that portal into a better place! 🙂

Stepping through the portal sounds like this, using the above scenario: Imagine that you just don’t care if the project gets done! So what if I get fired?,” you tell yourself, while smiling. “What is the worst that can happen?” This might sound absurd and counter-intuitive, but it can work if you let it! Your self-talk might continue like this: “This project. Who cares!? This is a deadline created by a human being. Life is so much bigger than this project and deadline” and even “So what if I get fired? Who cares? It doesn’t matter. In fact, I’m not finishing the project, and I am purposely going to get fired. And I’m going to laugh about it! I’ve always wanted to do something else anyway!”

You can take this crazy-seeming self-talk as far as you want to—in your mind. You are not actually going to act it out! You are going to pretend! But, you are going to pretend to the extent that it feels real! That is the key to making this work for you. Use your imagination. Create images. Imagine this is actually taking place. What are the actions you would take and the feelings you would feel? Who are you with, and what words would be said? What would you be believing about yourself? Often, the crazier and more-contrasting the new scenario and related images you create in your mind are, the more effective this exercise is. Make it as real as possible!

Taking the opposite, mentally, gives your mind freedom: freedom from anxiety and fear, freedom to be yourself, freedom to live from your true, sunny nature. It triggers your parasympathetic nervous system, shuts down the fight-flight-freeze response of your sympathetic nervous system, and allows your perception to expand.

If this exercise produces more anxiety rather than an experience of relaxation and sense of well-being, the new image you chose may actually be causing more anxiety rather than less. For example, if thinking about getting fired and saying to yourself “who cares” and laughing about it gets you more anxious, choose another image. This one actually has worked for me on a number of  occasions, but it may not work for you. Choose a scenario and image that works for you.

For example, an alternative image for the above scenario might be imagining yourself taking an endless vacation. Your self-talk might sound something like this: “I’m done. This project and deadline are too much. it is ridiculous! I’m buying tickets to the Caribbean right now! I’m going! I am going to lay on the beach and drink rum punch, and I don’t care what anyone thinks! No-one is stopping me! And… I’m moving there!” Really get into it. 🙂 “I am going to do this!”, you tell yourself. You might even pull up an online travel site and act like you are buying airline tickets—all but putting in your credit card number, of course. 🙂

a Caribbean beach

When doing this exercise, you may find you feel as though you are in a different place. Sometimes this exercise can propel people into a spiritual experience they have never had before. This may have even happened as you read the scenarios above, if you allowed yourself to be fully immersed in the experience.

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THE big problem is that we often do not give ourselves permission to imagine and to dream. We stopped being like children. We stopped having fun. We think it is now silly. “Get serious!”, you tell yourself, slapping yourself on the face. But, that is complete nonsense! And deep down, I know you know it! 🙂

Why not take the opposite? I am quite certain you will come away seeing your situation completely differently. It has worked for me many times!

Of course, this is just one of many ways to remove the cloud covering that we have allowed to form over our sunny sides. Having a guide can be very helpful. That is what coaching is for! if you want someone to join you on your journey, someone who will walk along side you, give you positive support, and believe in you as you go after all you desire, browse my coaching website. Then, when you’re ready, schedule a FREE Exploratory Coaching Session and we can talk about working together to help you on your journey to finding what it is you really want! You do not have to do this alone!


Your coach for YOUR journey,


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