How would you like to have a simple trick that you could keep in your back pocket and use whenever you want to break through hesitation, do something that scares you, achieve your dreams, and turn your life around?
Today, we’re going to discuss a tiny magic tool that you can access whenever you need a little push toward bold action. It’s simple, quick, and foolproof—so much so that it might sound obvious . . . but it works. I like to call this little trick, “Do the Opposite.”
Let’s take a look at this from a real-life perspective. Start by recalling a situation from your own personal, work, or social life in which you felt anxious, uncomfortable, or full of self-doubt. Now, go back to your mental state in that moment. What were you picturing? What emotions did you experience? What story were you telling yourself in that moment?
Now, if you’ve been watching these videos for a while, you probably know what I mean by “story.” Often, we create narratives in our minds that we believe define the experience we’re about to have. For example, you’re at a party telling yourself, “Nobody is talking to me; everyone here hates me.” You don’t have any direct evidence that anyone hates you, but that is what you tell yourself regardless. This assertion is just a story, and it’s not serving you. These stories happen subconsciously, but with practice, we can begin to recognize them and change that narrative.
So, let’s go back to the situation you called up from your past. What feelings and stories are you experiencing? What are those feelings and stories telling you to do? Are they telling you to stand in a corner by yourself? Pull out your phone and pretend you’re busy checking lots of texts? Leave?
These reactions are the behaviors that your subconscious wants to summon. Your subconscious wants to run and hide because it doesn’t want to expose you to pain.
For every negative story your mind creates, an equally negative reaction is demanded by your emotions. And as you ask yourself what these stories, feelings, and reactions are, you want to be as specific as possible . . . because determining them is going to help you answer the power question at hand: What is the exact opposite of those behaviors?
So, let’s say you’re at the party mentioned above and you’re hiding in a corner avoiding eye contact and fiddling with your phone.
Do the opposite!
What’s the exact opposite of that behavior? Well, for one thing, it’s to put your phone away; it’s to look up and meet people’s eye contact; it’s to move away from your comfort spot and walk around the room—it’s to engage people and initiate a conversation.
Here’s another example from my own life: recently, I was home with my boys (one and three) and they began bugging me to go outside and play when I had a ton of chores to do. In that moment, I was telling myself a story about how stressed I was, how important the chores were, and how I absolutely had to get the house clean immediately.
Now, what was the truth in that moment? No one was holding a gun to my head demanding that I clean up, or else! But I was telling myself that story anyway and getting irritated with my boys and missing out on a great opportunity to spend time with them. As a result, my behavior was to say, “No, I don’t want to go outside,” and ignore them.
Almost immediately, it dawned on me: do the opposite.
What is the exact opposite of saying, “No, I don’t want to go outside”? At first, I thought it was to say, “Fine, I’ll go outside,” but then I realized that statement still had the residue of my old story on it. The exact opposite of that statement is actually to say, “Yes! I want to go outside.”
This is where it gets tricky—your mind will try to allow you to stick to your old story, even as you work to fight against it. In that moment, I needed to combat my frustration and impatience with the honest belief that I wanted to go outside even more than my kids. I had to commit to finding the exact opposite action.
Once I had that figured out, I needed to determine the opposite of ignoring them . . . and that was to actively engage them. Not just to go outside and play, but to be the one coming up with the games!
Now, here’s the thing: when you’re in that lousy mental state and you come up with your ideal opposite action, you’re not naturally going to want to do it. In fact, every part of you will probably try to fight against it. This is when you bring out the “three-minute rule.”
I believe that time is your friend. When I am facing a challenge, I will often tell myself that I only need to commit to it for three minutes because it helps me feel as though it’s not a permanent and inescapable chore. So, in this case, I would commit to doing the exact opposite behavior for three minutes. The funny thing is that by the end of that three minutes, I’m normally totally engaged in whatever my opposite action is, and my outlook has already been completely turned around.
These behaviors are just patterns—if you can shift the pattern for even a few minutes, the results will amaze you.
In the case of playing with my kids, it took only 30 seconds to get outside and get a game initiated, 90 seconds before we were laughing and having a great time, and two minutes before I had completely shed that feeling of frustration, irritation, and obligation.
This three-minute rule has the potential to produce some of the happiest and most surprisingly fulfilling moments of your life. Simply set a timer, and jump in head first! Of course, once the timer runs out, you will have a choice to make. First, you’ll have to check in and ask what your new story is. Are you having a great time? Are you relieved that you did the opposite? Now, the choice: Would you like to keep up the new behavior or go back to the old, negative frame of mind?
Never since I’ve begun doing this have I ever once wanted to go back to the old stories and behaviors, and my guess is that you won’t want to either. Though I know it might sound scary at first, you will be astounded by the difference that this technique can make in your life.
I have achieved great moments using this technique, and that is also my hope for you. Get started right away by taking stock of your stories, emotions, and behaviors, and share your experiences here so that we can all learn from one another. What are your most destructive stories? What behaviors do they elicit, and what opposite behaviors have you been doing to combat them? I love to hear your success stories and watch this community thrive, so please subscribe so that you can keep in touch and receive content as it’s released.
Until we speak again, may you have the courage to be who you are and to know on a deep level that you’re awesome.