How the Opposite is True Too


in Personal Growth

Let’s talk about beliefs – specifically, beliefs that don’t serve our best interests.

You’ve got them. I’ve got them. We just forget they are there sometimes because they live below the surface of our consciousness. Lurking. Waiting to trip us up. Keeping us from what we want.

Simple words that keep ugly little messages in our heads like:

  • I will never have enough money.
  • My job bites.
  • I am getting old.
  • No one understands me.
  • I’m overweight.
  • My co-workers are stupid.

These beliefs influence the way we approach our days – and, ultimately, the way we approach our lives.

One of the things I treasured most about my interview with Martha Beck last week was her suggestion that we hold our beliefs “lightly” and that we not give them so much weight or credence.

But how is that actually done??

According to Martha, one way to do it is to allow ourselves to see that the opposite of what we believe is also true.

By seeing that the things we believe to be true may also be false, we force the verbal brain to relinquish its obsessive belief that it knows the “right way,” or “how things should be.” This throws us out of our preconceptions and into pure perception and observation, into a state of open-mindedness. ~ Martha Beck, Finding Your Way in a Wild New World

So, let’s give that a try with the examples I noted above (these are not necessarily my beliefs – they are intended to illustrate how our “belief” thinking could work):

  • I will ALWAYS have enough money.
  • My job ROCKS.
  • I am getting YOUNG.
  • EVERYONE understands me.
  • I’m NOT overweight.
  • My co-workers are SMART.

Feeling some resistance? I bet.

But step back and look at those statements and see if you can allow yourself to discern their truth with an open-mind.

This can take a bit of work, depending on what beliefs you are playing with, but you can get there. By way of example, our new opposite truths might look something like this:

  • Yes, I will always have enough money because I always have had. I’m still here, aren’t I?
  • Yes, my job does rock. It allows me to eat, buy clothes, and talk with interesting people. Shall I go on?
  • Yes, I am getting “young.” Every day I learn new things or open my mind to more possibilities – things I hadn’t even considered when I was 18.
  • Yes, everyone understands me – especially when they get a chance to talk with me, one-on-one.
  • Yes, I am not overweight because I am not my weight. I am simply me.
  • Yes, my coworkers are smart. I just haven’t taken the time to focus on their particular brilliance.

Still feeling a bit of resistance??

That’s OK. Most likely, you are having trouble believing the words.

And, that is exactly Martha’s point.

We have allowed words to be the “truth” about ourselves when the real truth lies elsewhere – namely, in our experience.

Words – or language – are arbitrary. Words are something we have assigned to give meaning to experiences so that we could all communicate in some way. But, the words, in and of themselves, are not our truth.

Truth itself is something you live, not something you think…. Talking about [words] isn’t enough to experience them; in fact, it often becomes a barrier to real experience by convincing us we know something truly when we really only know it verbally. To avoid this mind trap, cultivate the ability to identify, or even create, paradoxes in your everyday thinking. In other words, whenever you find yourself believing a statement is true, identify ways that its opposite could also be true. ~ Martha Beck, Finding Your Way in a Wild New World

Go live your truth.

Leave the words behind.

Open the pathways to new possibilities and new ways of being.

Try the “opposite is also true experiment” – I’d love to know what your experience of it is. Please share in the comments!

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Ronna February 2, 2012 at

I LOVE this, Andrea. Truly. I’ve been swimming in some deep waters of “truths” and “beliefs” that, when looked at from the opposite, open up all kinds of possibility for me and, to your point, reveal the power that language (both positive and negative) holds. Thank you, my friend.
Ronna recently posted..Will you pray?


Andrea Olson February 3, 2012 at

Thank you, Ronna. And, even more importantly, what would happen if we moved away from language (assigning arbitrary values to experiences) and just experienced? Heady stuff to contemplate for sure.


Kelly Lenihan February 6, 2012 at

Brilliant premise, this is exactly what I needed to learn today. Thank you.


Andrea Olson February 6, 2012 at

Thanks, Kelly. I love it when a message finds you when you need it. :)


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