Stress Relief Strategies: Flipping To The Opposite Reality—Part 3

by Doc Orman, M.D.

This week, I’ve been discussing a powerful stress relief strategy called Flipping To The Opposite Reality.  On Monday, I explained what this strategy is.  Then on Wednesday I explained what it was good for.

If you missed either of these two posts, here are the links:

Flipping To The Opposite Reality—Part 1

Flipping To The Opposite Reality—Part 2

Today, I’m going to explain why this simple strategy works so well and how we can use it to reduce our stress.

Why Does Flipping Work?

Flipping To The Opposite Reality (“Flipping” for short) is a cognitive strategy where you take any given thought, assumption, or conclusion and you turn it on its head and consider the exact opposite “reality.”

You don’t create these opposite “realities” to believe in them.  You simply make them up and then once created, you can do anything you want with them.

In my last post, I suggested that one good thing you can do with these opposite realities is use them to expand your view of the world around you.  Now why might you want to do this?

Internal Causes

Much of our stress comes from internal, not external causes.  This often happens when we automatically look at things from habitual “either/or” viewpoints.  And when this happens, we tend to notice only what can be seen from one exclusive  side of the dichotomy, while we remain blind to any other aspects of reality that belong to the opposite side of the dichotomy.

For example, here are just a few “either/or” dichotomies where we commonly get trapped in one—and only one—of the two polar opposites:

  • Right/Wrong
  • Good/Bad
  • Credit/Blame
  • Cause/Effect
  • Win/Lose
  • Strong/Weak
  • Stupid/Smart

The problem with all of these “either/or” frameworks is that when you habitually view the world from either one of the two sides, it becomes very difficult to simultaneously view events from the opposite perspective.

The reason this is important, and the reason why it often leads to conflicts and stress, is because life—real life—doesn’t usually happen in “either/or” ways.  Many events in life have aspects of both polar opposites.

For instance, you may automatically “see” another person as doing something you view as “bad” when there may also be some aspects of what they did that were “good” or not really bad at all.

You can have an argument with someone and think you have “won” when in reality you may have also lost something in the transaction.

Thus, when you artificially create an opposite reality and then use it voluntarily to expand your automatic one-sided viewpoint, you’ll often begin to see very real aspects of life that were there, but that escaped your attention initially.

And guess what?  When you are able to expand your automatic “either/or” viewpoints with ease, a great deal of stress will quickly disappear for you.

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