Life’s Great Paradox

Have you ever noticed that when something bothers you, the more you want it to go away, and the stronger it becomes? There’s an old cliché, “What we resist, persists.”

I have personally experienced this phenomenon numerous times… the hard way. You would think eventually I would learn!

Here is an example:

Let’s say there were a part of yourself that you don’t like… no, make that a part of you that you hate!

Maybe there is no such aspect that you so strongly dislike, and if that’s true for you, congratulations! But if there is that thing about yourself that you truly have not accepted – anything – think of it now. It could be your weight or other physical attribute, a personality trait or tendency, or in fact anything at all that elicits an uncomfortable emotional reaction.

Now, think about how you have reacted to it in the past.

Have you tried ignoring it? Denying it? Pushing it away? Engaging in addictive or other unhealthy behaviors in an attempt to assuage the pain? Perhaps you have tried to accept that part of you but have been unsuccessful to this point. Or just maybe you have tried to change whatever it is, and have not been satisfied with your results.

I am going to present a technique you can try even if you’d still like to change this aspect of you (assuming change is physically possible). Accepting and changing are not mutually exclusive. In fact, acceptance may help facilitate change by removing your attachment to the result, thereby allowing you to “let go.”

Instead of fighting against this thing, do the opposite; accept it. In my blog, The Many faces of You, I discuss the notion of finding the blessing in a seemingly negative attribute. The approach I am discussing here involves taking the negative emotional charge – the hate part – out of the equation. It is only when we stop hating that we start accepting ‘what is,’ so that it can no longer hang around our necks like an albatross.

Do you remember when teachers used to discipline a student for bad behavior by forcing them to write on the blackboard (say, 100 times), “I will not chew gum in class. I will not chew gum in class. I will not chew gum in class.” ?

Take out a pen and paper, and write down “I am (whatever it is that bothers you about yourself, that you have trouble accepting).”

“I am lazy. I am lazy. I am lazy.” And so on… Keep writing until the word loses its potency.

The purpose of this exercise is to become bored, bored with the word “lazy,” so bored that if someone called you “lazy” (or fat, or ugly, or oversensitive) it would no longer upset you. This doesn’t mean you should be glad you are this or that, or that you have relinquished the intention of changing what can be changed. It simply means you can care less about it!

If writing is not your thing (perhaps because you are too lazy! LOL), then say these words to yourself – “I am lazy” – over and over again, until you become bored with them. Try standing in front of a mirror and staring at yourself if you have one available. Feel free to experiment.

Doing this exercise, or even considering doing it, may make you feel temporarily uncomfortable out of fear. If you knew this would work, however, wouldn’t some temporary discomfort be a price worth paying to relieve yourself of this bothersome thought?

If you get a great result, and the issue pops up again sometime in the future, it doesn’t mean this technique failed, it means it worked! Just do it again, and again if you need to. Play with it. Be creative. Try it in a different voice (Elmer Fudd comes to mind) if you’re saying it out loud, or a colored pen if you’re writing. I bet you can think of new ways to do this.

I invite you to share how well this works for you.

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46 Responses to “Life’s Great Paradox”

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