It’s easy to become complacent in life.
It’s easy to just go back to sleep and chronically neglect your growth edges.
Laziness is our default. Psychological sleepiness plagues our world. Entropy is real.
And if we aren’t consciously shaking up our routines every now and then, it’s easy to wake up one day and realize that another decade has past.
One of my favourite ways to stay awake in my life is by frequently stretching my opposites.
Let me explain.
What Does Stretching Your Opposites Mean?
Stretching your opposites is all about pushing your comfort zone, and eroding the overly static nature of your self-imposed identity.
As humans we are evolutionarily hardwired to want to grow. We want to strive, achieve, become more.
But growing isn’t just about becoming a deeper, more specialized you, but also a more dynamic, and fully embodied you.
If you have mastered a few areas of your life, but you completely neglect others, then you aren’t a very full-spectrum bad ass… you’re just someone that doubled down on their strengths to the detriment of other parts of themselves.
So if you ever find yourself over-functioning in a few areas of your life, and under functioning in several others, your life may be ripe for an extended round of stretching your opposites.
Why Would You Want To Stretch Your Opposites?
You would want to stretch your opposites because you are meant to grow. Because challenging yourself feels good. Because you can become a more dynamic, more fully alive version of yourself through your efforts.
You are not an insect. You were not put on this planet to hyper specialize in one menial task and then die.
You were put here to give, grow, become, stretch, love fully, live fully, and die empty.
And regularly stretching your opposites gets you to that finish line with more soul-level fulfillment than playing exclusively within the safe and narrow path.
How Do You Stretch Your Opposites?
There are two ways that you can go about this.
Write down all of the areas of your life that you have chronically neglected, and commit to giving them more energy… or write down all of the things that you would be afraid to do (excluding rational fears that would result in an early death, i.e. tightrope walking without any training).
1. Write down all of the areas of your life that you have neglected, and commit to giving them more energy
What isn’t working in your life?
What areas of your life aren’t functioning very well, and you know it?
What do people consistently tell you that you need to do more, that you keep dragging your heels on?
Write these things down, and feel into which ones cause you the most pain and anguish.
2. Write down all of the things that you would be afraid to do
Are you afraid to admit to yourself how badly you want to give up your day job and become self-employed?
Do you feel disconnected, lonely, or afraid to acknowledge how badly you want more social or intimate connection in your life?
Does going in public without make up scare you?
Whatever scares you, face it all.
Facing directly into your fears and living them out gives you a potent aura of, “I am unfuckwithable… come at me.”
Examples Of How To Stretch Your Opposites
Here are a few examples of assignments that I have given to clients over the last decade. Whether any of these apply to you or not, they may jog something in your mind that sparks your next self-assigned homework (plus, some of them are just plain funny).
– Do you love eating at restaurants for every meal, living large, and spending freely? Try only eating on $5 per day for a whole week. Make rice and beans your new best friend, and see what happens.
– Are you a pushover who says yes to everything? Make ‘No’ your default for a month. Turn down social requests. Don’t take on other people’s shit. Keep your calendar super spacious and only do exactly what it is that you want to do, all the time. Be selfish!
– Do you resent typical masculine stuff (watching sports, drinking beer, being aggressive/competitive)? Try on being hyper masculine and doing the exact things that you judge. You may realize just how much you have been at war with those exact same (already existing) parts of yourself.
– Are you a gym rat who works out constantly? Try on being lazy. Take two weeks off from any physical exercise. Eat whatever you want. Watch Netflix all evening, several days in a row. Look dishevelled. Post a shirtless selfie right after you eat a full bag of chips and don’t flex, angle yourself well, or concern yourself with lighting. In short, be less obsessed with your looks and chill the fuck out.
– Are you an emotionally absent parent/son/daughter/sibling? Lean in. Engage with your relatives. Ask them how they’re doing and then listen. Tell you love them more. Care. Engage more fully. Be a model parent/child/sibling/etc. and let your loving light shine bright (cheesy as fuck but I had to leave it in because it rhymed).
– Are you known for being beautiful, and well put together? Try out going in public looking disheveled. No make up. Mismatching clothes. If anyone asks, don’t dissipate the tension by saying that you’re doing an exercise where you stretch your opposites. Just brush it off and carry on with the conversation.
– Do people tell you you’re too deep, dark, broody, or serious? Try being a playful, easy-going clown like figure for a week. Mess with people. Have fun. Make jokes that fall flat. Loosen up.
– If you get off on thinking your childhood was especially painful and challenging, try thinking to yourself ‘My childhood wasn’t that bad.’ Give up the specialness that you get from believing that your pain is better than/more significant than others pain. Everyone suffers. Everyone is invalidated at some point in their childhood. Drop the sob stories.
Balance all of this with the concept that ‘the opposite of crazy is still crazy.’
You want to find the healthy, balanced opposite, not the extreme opposite.
The point isn’t to swing the pendulum so hard that you mess up your life even worse. It’s to lean into the places that you neglect and that challenge or scare you.
Do the thing you’re afraid of, get the real-time feedback that it won’t kill you, and come to know and accept more parts of yourself in the process. And repeat.
A real life example for me that I’m currently engaging in is I have been giving my body (specifically physical fitness) a lot more attention this calendar year.
I spent so much of the last five years prioritizing my mind/thoughts/creativity above all else, and neglecting my physical being in the process.
So now I’m seeing a personal trainer a couple of times per week, while also working on learning how to do a standing, feet to feet backflip (more on this soon).
By giving up the bullshit stories that ‘I’m just not one of those people who can put on muscle / I’m too tall to be able to backflip / etc.”, I get to learn more things about myself and grow in the process.
Alright, that’s it.
Now get out there and stretch your opposites.
Your everything will thank you.
Dedicated to your success,
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