Emotion Regulation 1.18: Opposite Action

Opposite Action

We continue a series on how to effectively manage emotions, so that we can engage more thoughtfully in relationship. All of the skills we discuss are designed to support the ultimate goal of wisdom (see post titled, “Emotion Regulation 1.0”).

For several posts, we looked at various mindfulness (awareness) skills; next we covered several distress tolerance (crisis management/survival) skills; then we looked at a few interpersonal effectiveness (assertiveness) skills. A few days ago, we began covering four emotion regulations skills. Today’s final skill: opposite action. Do the very thing you don’t feel like doing, and do it with everything you have.

100 Days of Rejection

Sure! Try things you’re afraid of, get active when you’re depressed, move toward the thing you fear. I recently watched a TedTalk by a guy who realized that his fear of rejection was paralyzing him and preventing him from accomplishing his goals and dreams, so he decided to confront it directly. For 100 days, he came up with an activity for which he new he’d experience rejection.

The first day, he asked a stranger for $100, and immediately ran away when he was rejected. The second day, he decided to stay engaged after the inevitable rejection, when he asked for a “burger refill” at a fast food restaurant. In the end, after 100 days of being turned down, he’d learned what kept him stuck and how to negotiate for what he wanted.

I have to applaud him for his incredible effort, going up against his own fears that he had come to realize were rooted in his early life.

A Single Step

How about you? What keeps you locked into a way of being that prevents your from living the life you want? What do you need to do to dig yourself out of that rut and live your dreams, or move even one step closer to them? Someone said that “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

What step do you need to make right now? And how can you give it your whole heart, even if you really don’t feel like it? Can you have someone hold you accountable for just taking that one step, and then see what the landscape looks like from your new position? You may have to start out blind, but as you take one step at a time, your next step will become clear to you. It might be kind of like traveling from Los Angeles to New York City in the dark, only by your headlights, but twenty feet at a time, you can make it there, if you trust the process.

 

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