Sooo many times, we need to complete a task, and the first thought is “I don’t feel like it!” Thinking in opposites is a strategy I want to offer you to challenge this thought. Here’s why.
My moods can drive me a little crazy at times. They can shift a fair amount, even though I’m generally a pretty even-keeled person. For example, I can feel super UP when a new client contacts me and it feels like a great fit. That’s a big dopamine hit for my little therapy brain.
Then there are other times when the occasional isolation of running a solo private practice gets to me. I’m a person who loves connecting with others, especially when it’s one-on-one or when I’m with a small, intimate group of friends. Nothing brings me more pleasure than those connections.
But—as Mick Jagger says—you can’t always get what you want, or at least not immediately, or without some effort on your part.
I would be willing to bet a whole lot of you struggle with the same sorts of mood shifts during the course of a day in response to various thoughts and/or events that start twirling around in your head.
Here’s the thing.
Moods come. Moods go.
So when you get too tangled up in a mood, you may actually be placing too much importance on that particular thought or set of thoughts. They might be important, but getting stuck in them does nothing to problem solve. It’s like sitting in a rocking chair, rocking all day long, and expecting to go somewhere.
Worry is like sitting in a rocking chair, rocking all day long, and expecting to go somewhere.
Instead, you ruminate, and stay up inside your head. Worry as a problem solving method does not work. You do it because it feels like you are doing something. And often, worry is a habit you developed, one that you learned. And anything learned, can be unlearned.
I didn’t say it would be easy. But it is absolutely possible.
Thinking In Opposites
One suggestion to counteract the “I-don’t-feel-like-its” is to think in opposites. What are your negative thoughts directing you to do? Can you purposefully do something that is the opposite of their “orders”? Here’s an example.
Say you intend to get up and go for a walk or get to the gym for a class. ( I mean it IS the new year!) You don’t feel like it. That would be allowing your feelings to lead when they are the opposite of your overall goal, sticking to your fitness plan. So what do you do? Think in opposites. Set out your sweaty gym clothes where you’ll step on them when you get up. I mean really, who cares if they super squeaky clean? And then when…
The Gremlins In Your Head Strike
Even though the gremlins in your head are performing the hallelujah chorus of “It’s too hot, it’s too cold, I’m too tired, I’ll just skip this one class, I won’t feel my best at work if I’m too tired, I hate to exercise”….You just go anyway. You don’t have to try and shut down the ‘gremlins’. You simply let them ride along, and about 10 minutes tops into whatever you are doing, those pesky gremlins will recede, and the fact that you did not let them win is a DOUBLE win for you. First, you ignored the negative emotions. Second, you did something great for your body in keeping with your genuine, overall goal.
Thinking In Opposites Works With Other Tasks
You can apply this “thinking in opposites strategy” to many projects or tasks you don’t feel like doing. Taking down the holiday decorations. Taxes. Yard work. House cleaning. Big reports or projects. Getting started is often the hardest part. Just remember to chunk the task into doable parts so it’s not so overwhelming. Pay attention to that word ‘feel’ if it’s playing in your head, and then head the opposite direction to get sh*t done. These kinds of feelings are typically oriented around immediate gratification. Leading with emotions will often defeat your more positive intentions. Just because you feel a certain way doesn’t make it necessarily true or helpful.
If you need help with this, or untangling any of your anxious thoughts, contact me here.