Do The Opposite!

18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.

Romans 7:18-19 (NIV)

I love to work out and if there is anything that I have learned, it is that my body is constantly opposing my mind.  When my mind wants me to be active, my body wants me to sit.  When my mind wants me to move, my body wants to vegetate.  Here is how the apostle Paul put it “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.”  My will, mind and center of reasoning understand the importance of physical activity but it can be a challenge to convince my body of the same…and so, sometimes I have to bypass my bodily desire and do the thing anway….in other words, do the opposite of what my body is screaming to do.  That is not easy and requires the development of discipline.  The bible calls this “self-control”.  Sometimes I have to tell my body “NO!”.   If I repeat this practice consistently, I will develop a discipline.

The same thing applies to anything we want to accomplish.  Allowing for the discipline of scheduled time to do things helps us to move away from the tendency to procrastinate.  If you have not already, create and adhere to a schedule of activities that are the building blocks for achieving your goal.  If you must force yourself to do something, do it!  Once the habit becomes established, it will become easier.  Nothing worth accomplishing starts otherwise. Things that fall into this category include scheduled times for daily reflection, meetings with coaches and other types of helpers, personal development activities and other forms of healthy self-care.

This principle does not only apply to items we want to accomplish for ourselves.  It also applies to behaviors we are not already demonstrating with others.  A partner who wants to be more understanding in the middle of conflict, even though they default to being defensive, can choose to do the opposite and communicate in a way that is supportive.  A colleague who feels undermined and defaults to constraining their effort can do the opposite by maintaining engagement.  Doing the opposite does not deny the existence of negative emotions.  It does, however, create flexibility around the existence of situational factors that have nothing to do with the individual.  A spiraling partner may indicate the existence of heretofore unknown distress.  An irate supervisor may signal the presence of a stressor that is unknown to the subordinate on the receiving end.  Whatever the case, it is usually not personal…and doing the opposite is a protection against the impact of unknowns.

Being able to do this, however, is difficult.  Our defaults are hard wired. In many cases, they are remnants of behaviors that served us in the past.  If this is a place of struggle, admit to it and enlist the help of others who care about you and your success.

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