This Practice can help you to have a fuller, more appreciative perception of yourself. It has proven to be a Practice that helps people to feel more at ease with who they are, and takes away the need to label yourself in a manner that is restrictive in nature.
So often in life we state things in “black or white” when often there are many shades of grey. One good way to understand ourselves better is to state both sides of a seemingly black and white statement.
As always, please read through all of the instructions at least once before actually doing this Practice. You will want either a piece of paper or your computer handy to write down your “answers.”
1. Write down at least three personal qualities you have which you feel good about. For instance:
I am friendly.
I am a caring person.
I am hard working.
2. Now add to each one of these statements an “alternative reality” which takes into account particular instances when you are different. In other words state a time when the OPPOSITE of each statement is ALSO true.
I am friendly in social settings, and sometimes I can also be distant if I am in new surroundings.
I am a caring person with family and friends, but I can also sometimes be cold and uncaring in business.
I am hard working, and still at times I would prefer to just have fun instead.
3. Now reverse the order of these statements, and when necessary change the wording some as well. You might likely find that changing the order of the statements changes your perception of yourself.
I am sometimes distant with people, and I am also quite friendly at other times.
In business I can sometimes be uncaring, while I am a loving parent and friend.
I like to have fun, and I am also hard working.
The idea here being to get away from labeling yourself as “one kind” of person, and not the other kind. Most of us show a wide range of behaviors and abilities depending on the circumstances, and it is good to take in the full range of who we are and how we “sometimes” act. The term “sometimes” is important to note here. We rarely if ever exhibit the same qualities “all of the time.” There is no reason to have to be “one type of person OR the other” when in reality we tend to be “both” over the course of time. When we state “I am friendly.” Or “I am a caring person.” this makes it seem like we are ALWAYS like that, and thus we will tend to confuse ourselves when we run up against the times when we are different. You will likely find that it is better to consider yourself “either or” depending on the circumstances.
4. List at least three personal qualities you have which do not please you.
I am depressive.
I am insecure.
I am frightened about my future.
When you write down your phrases, do you see how these phrases seem to have a finality to them? Don’t they tend to read in an “all or nothing” manner?
5. Now add the alternative reality for each statement, including different contexts as an important part of your statement. You want to be able to acknowledge when the opposite of your original statement is also true.
I am depressive at times, and I can also be upbeat when I am with friends.
I am insecure in personal relationships, and I am confident in work situations.
I am frightened about my future and I also have a lot of exciting dreams.
6. Now reverse the order of these statements, and when necessary change the wording some as well. Once again, you might likely find that changing the order of the statements changes your perception of yourself.
I am upbeat when around friends, and at other times I can be depressive.
I am confident at work, and insecure when it comes to personal relationships.
I have a lot of exciting dreams and at the same time I can often be frightened.
7. You now have four groupings of “dual” statements from Steps 2 and 3 and 5 and 6.
Group these statements so that you can easily read all of them.
Now take a couple of deep breaths and check your posture so that you feel open and aware.
SLOWLY state each dual statement one by one, and take two deep breaths in between each statement.
When done take a few more deep breaths and notice the sounds, sights and physical sensations that you feel.
Reflect on what you have learned.
In the future you might find it helpful to consider the full range of your behaviors/qualities rather than locking in on only one aspect of yourself.