Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Reverse Thinking & Spiritual Growth

I have recently been reminded of the wisdom of what I can only call “reverse thinking.” I’ve used it a number of times in my life to maximize results. It’s ideal for use in business and can assist in opening the flood gates of inspiration and flow of “what-ifs.” For example, when I am making decisions I visualize myself having already achieved the desired goal. I then ask myself “What could I have done differently to make the outcome even more desirable or more beneficial?” The result is a flood of ideas that can be researched, tested, and put into practice - even before begining to work towards the desired goal.

What I’ve been reminded of recently is that this process works equally well when it comes to personal issues and spiritual growth, sometimes allowing one to actually circumvent painful experiences. I’ll share with you an experience that took place some years back that illustrates the concept more fully.

I was having difficulties with a personal relationship to the point of considering terminating it. I had gone around and around attempting to cause the elimination of what I considered to be inappropriate behavior in my partner, whom I loved very much and also lived with. After much soul searching, I finally resolved myself to moving out. I made all the necessary arrangements. I rented a place, separated finances, put myself out there to make new contacts and begin a new life. But the fact remained, I was simply going through the motions. I was now able to leave at any time, I had my place, I had the money - but something was stopping me. I didn’t want to go. Despite all my issues I had with my partner, I loved him.

It was time for more soul searching...

In the process I found that I really felt justified in leaving my partner. I deserved more than I was getting out of the relationship and my identity was being stifled. I began asking myself, preparing myself really, for what it would be like once I finally left. I knew I would have to go through a period of grief. I knew I would have to mourn the loss of what was, or what could have been. I knew I’d have to form new friends and new interests and get used to sleeping alone.

But something else happened in the process of visualizing myself going on without my partner. I started to ask myself what I had learned and what had come out of my leaving (projecting into the future). I saw that I had needed to grow and expand my identity of who I was. I saw that I was far too dependant on our relationship. I saw that I didn’t devote enough time to my writing and my own interests.

It was then that I realized that the problem wasn’t my partner. The problem was me! The Universe (always at the prompting of our higher self) was attempting to push me out of my comfortable nest, attempting to force me to grow and do what I needed to do. I was creating the necessary circumstances to force myself out of my comfort zone, out into the world - and to do what I was supposed to be doing. Our souls are like that, they know who we are and what we are supposed to be accomplishing, and they don’t mess around.

This is where reverse thinking comes in. Any time we can look back and see the purpose in our suffering, we can also look forward and ask ourselves how we might need to grow before taking a leap into the unknown. What I mean is, we can actually harness the apprehension we feel when we know we are looking into the great abyss of the unknown. When we know we are heading towards something unpleasant, something that scares us, something we may not want to do - we can practice reverse thinking, asking ourselves: What might be the lesson I am being challenged to learn? And maybe, just maybe - in identifying that lesson and taking action to actually learn it, we might be able to avoid the negative experience all together. I know now, that in order for my life and my relationships to work I have to make time for myself - my real self and do all the things my real self requires. Like meditating and writing and communing with nature.

Let me share with you how my story ended. Once I had my epiphany, realizing that I created the situation myself for my own higher learning, I also realized that if I didn’t learn that particular lesson from my current partner, I’d just have to learn it later on down the road from someone else. Once I realized that, I also realized that if I just learned the lesson and got over it, not only would I save a whole heck of a lot of time, but I would get to learn my lessons from a person whom I loved very much, and by getting over it, I would eliminate the need to leave.

What really occurred was me dropping the pretense that “our problems" were about whatever I labeled as offending behavior, and realizing that not only are all lessons, lessons I am creating for myself, but that I was, am, and will always be 100% accountable for my reactions to life, my judgments about it, and what I allow to diminish my experience of it.


Anne Claire said...

I really like your reasoning - or should I say thinking?! I'll give it a try; it sounds really interesting!!

suZen said...

Love it! I've used the "mirror" many times, which is sort of like your reverse thinking. Whatever is irritating me the most about someone else is my prompt to look in the mirror. I've found what I dislike is often something in me - revealing!

Laura Mika Benton said...

Great suggestion! I've also used that technique. It works for me too. Thanks for sharing!

Janae said...

Beautiful! Reminds me that our original blueprint for perfection is always alive and well beckoning for us to realize our true self. Thank you for sharing!

greys said...

I think it was very insightfully written. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

What an amazing insight!

John Soriano

Fan the spark!

Anonymous said...

Very thoughtfull post on spiritual growth.It should be very much helpfull

Karim -
Positive thinking