Two Sides of the Stick

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Guest Post by Amy V. Strong, ScD

Image by ERNESTO BRILLO / Unsplash

Every now and then, I’ll listen to an Abraham-Hicks audio clip. I’m not sure where you are on the spectrum of believing in mediums who translate the thoughts of infinite intelligence, and I’m not sure where I am either. But I do know that wherever the Abraham-Hicks teachings come from, I’m always 100% on board with them.

In one recent listening, Abraham was talking about the fact that every single aspect of life can be represented by a stick. You can pick up the stick of your health, your relationships, your self-worth. And every stick has two opposing sides. On one side, you find all the negative facets of the thing, for example, your relationship. Your marriage is crumbling, your partner barely sees you anymore, you can’t think of the last time you laughed together. 

But there is also, always, that other side of the stick. The positive side. Your partner rubs your shoulders when you look tired. They pour you an excellent martini whenever you ask. They’ve known you for ages and can tell when you need some space or a hug.

Chances are, for any stick topic, your life exists somewhere in the middle of the two. Rarely are you in the most perfect probable state. But likewise, it’s unlikely you are experiencing the worst of all possible moments at all times. 

And here’s the thing. When you think of your life, you can choose which side of the stick is up. And yet what do we do? We pick up the stick and look at the crappy side. We inspect it, every splinter, every piece of crumbling bark. We perseverate on all the things that are wrong or could be. 

Isn’t it just as easy to dawdle on the other side? 

Try this. The next time you notice a negative thought in your head, write it down. Sit with that thought, without judgment, and ask yourself some questions. I love Byron Katie’s take on this, in her book Loving What Is

  • Is this thought true? 
  • Can you absolutely know it’s true? 
  • What happens (how do you feel) when you believe in that thought? 
  • Who would you be without that thought?

That last question is liberating, isn’t it? Did you just feel the weight of the world lift from your shoulders, when you imagined yourself without the burden of that negative thought?

Then Katie tells you to turn the thought around. Which is just like looking at the other side of the stick, right? I take the negative thought and I write down the exact opposite statement. Write it on a post-it (I even like to get those 2’x 2’ gigantic ones) and slap it on your bathroom mirror. Or on your car dash. Read it daily. Say it out loud. Your brain is a very funny little computer, and it will believe pretty much anything you tell it if you say it often enough. (There’s science behind this, but that’s for another post.)

Here’s an example, from my own life. My struggle bus lately often has this thought aboard: “I am not doing enough to build my business.” I write that down, ask myself the questions, and it goes like this:

  • Is this true? Well, yeah, I thought I would have X clients by now and I only have Y.
  • Can you absolutely know it’s true? I mean, I guess having Y clients is a good start. Whatever I’ve done up to this point was good enough to attract Y people. But it’s still not enough.
  • What happens (how do you feel) when you believe in that thought? I feel like I’ll never get my business off the ground. Like I don’t have what it takes. Like I should just quit now before I waste any more time. Like success will never come.
  • Who would you be without that thought? I would be liberated from the pressures of judging myself as a business owner and coach. I would be free to enjoy the work I do with the clients I have. I would look forward to opening my laptop each day and finding new ways to help people.

I don’t know about you, but I like that person in the fourth bullet a whole lot better than the one in the first three. So, I put a Post-It in my office that says this: “I have powerful business instincts, I have a gift that truly helps people, and my business is growing into everything I want it to be.”

Here’s a little secret: I DO NOT actually have powerful business instincts.

And that’s ok. When we look at the other side of the stick, we embrace parts of our life that are not true YET. I write down this thought anyway because this is where I am going. This is the direction my boat is sailing. I set my course in that direction, knowing there’s a long way to go, and the only way to get there is to pick a star in the sky and sail towards it.

The other side of the stick, the negative thought turned around, is your star. Go stare at it for a while and see the powerful effect the other side of the stick can have on your life.

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About Amy V. Strong, ScD

Amy V. Strong, ScD is the founder of The Solver Space, a virtual strategic planning business. She helps high-performing professionals create strategic plans for their lives and organizations so every precious minute in their crazy busy day goes to building a richer and more fulfilling life and business. Dr. Strong has almost 15 years of experience in strategic planning at all levels of government and the military.

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