PODCAST EPISODE 7: Opposition in all things
Hello and welcome to the podcast! I just want to give a huge thank you to all of you that reached out to me last week. I love hearing from you. I especially love that you’re leaving comments for me and reviews – thank you, thank you for the reviews! If you haven’t seen it yet I’m currently hosting a giveaway and to enter all you need to do is leave a review. It only takes a couple of minutes. It’s super easy to do and then you’re entered! So head on over to iTunes and leave me a quick review. I really appreciate it!
Today, I’m going to give you a concept to think about, work on, ponder, and apply that will benefit your life and overall, the entire family. It’s a concept that everyone faces and that is so helpful no matter what age you are.
Are you ready for it? Let’s dive in!
One of our biggest problems is that we continually create problems for ourselves. The problem isn’t the problem it’s that we make it a problem in the first place. Let me explain. If you go back to episode 2 on the MIX UP I talk a lot about circumstances. We have many circumstances each day. If you remember, circumstances can be anything that’s out of our control, that’s provable – it’s a fact, EVERYONE would agree, you can prove it in a court of law, there aren’t any adjectives associated with it, it’s purely factual…AND the most important part, they’re neutral. They don’t mean ANYTHING until we have a thought about it.
Here’s a few examples: Grass is green. We can prove this. It’s factual. Could I make this a problem? Maybe it is a problem for some, I don’t know. Absolutely. I could think, “Why is the grass green? The grass shouldn’t be green! It should be iridescent! (which would be totally sweet, I have to admit).
What about this one: I was born in August. A circumstance. It’s just a month in the summer. It doesn’t mean anything UNTIL I have a thought about it. I think it’s pretty awesome. I love summer. My son however was born in the winter and sometimes that’s a problem for him because it’s cold in the winter and he loves the water. In fact, last year he requested to postpone his friend birthday party until June so he could celebrate it at a water park.
Let’s do one more: Sally said, “I don’t think you could ever do that.” – I’m making this one up because I don’t know what “that” is but whatever it is, she said you can’t do it. THIS is a circumstance. Her words are a circumstance. They mean nothing. They’re not a problem. She’s allowed to say what she wants, think what she wants, do what she wants and it’s a circumstance, it’s neutral. It doesn’t mean anything until you have a thought about it.
You may think, “Who does she think she is? I could do that if I wanted to! I’m capable.” or maybe you take it another direction, “maybe she’s right. Who do I think I am to try this? I’m not good enough. I should quit.” In both of these thoughts you’re making it a problem. You’re making it mean something. Before it’s just a neutral circumstance but now you’ve had thoughts about it. You’ve determined whether it’s good or bad, right or wrong, a problem or not a problem.
Are you starting to see? In our lives we have circumstances day in and day out. We’re continually deciding whether something is a problem for us or not.
But I tell you what, whenever we decide that something is indeed a problem and we create negative emotion for ourselves, whoa, nelly…
We don’t realize that we’re creating the negative emotion. We think it’s the circumstance. We think it’s the problem that’s the problem! Something is wrong. I must fix it. I must fix the problem so I can feel good again.
But…here’s the ultimate key: it’s not the circumstance that’s a problem. The circumstance is never the problem. It’s our thoughts about the circumstance that labels it as a problem. It’s out thoughts that create the way we feel. It’s our thoughts about the circumstances that determine if we’ll experience negative feelings or not.
So remember, when you find yourself feeling a negative feeling it’s because of the thoughts you’re thinking.
Now I have to say something here because when I first learned this concept I was mindblower and of course I never wanted to feel anything negative, who does? So I thought to myself, “okay…I just need to always think happy thoughts and I’ll always be happy. Done!” No more negative emotions. No more sadness. No more frustration, guilt, overwhelm, or insecurity.
Yeah, no…let me clear that up if that’s where your beautiful mind is heading towards too. We aren’t supposed to feel happy all the time. That’s not what this earth life is for. “Men are that they might have JOY” but JOY is very different from HAPPY. Joy encompasses all that life has to offer: love in all things, purpose in sorrow and grief, and gratitude in our circumstances.
In fact there’s been several occasions where upon learning what I do people immediately ask, how they can be happy. And while I do talk a lot about how to operate from your best self this doesn’t always mean that we’re happy. I never tell people that they should be happy all the time. I don’t believe we’re supposed to. I also don’t believe that feeling happy all the time is how to operate from our best selves either.
What I do teach is that we’re supposed to feel the full spectrum of emotions. FULL. Have you ever played with the font colors on your word processor? Microsoft word? or Apple’s Pages? You can click the font button and it’ll give you several basic colors or you can go to the advanced option and it gives you this color block of all these colors and this full spectrum of colors. Then you slide your cursor over and with each movement it changes the color ever so slightly, darker, lighter, brighter, more muted. There’s a lot of colors that you could use, right?
Imagine that’s your feelings box. There’s a lot of feelings that you can feel and with each feeling there’s a whole spectrum there too. You can feel happy or you can feel elated or you can feel content. There all in the happy family, right? Same with sadness.
There’s a discontent type of feeling, agitated, sad, grief, despair, depressed, hopelessness, and the spectrum keeps on going, right?
We’re totally fine feeling all the warm, happy, positive emotions and we gravitate to those. We want to feel those. But when we start to experience some of the negative emotions we freak out a bit, like, this is a problem, we shouldn’t be feeling this way! Something has gone wrong, I must fix it so I can get back to happyland.
But remember, there isn’t a problem until you’ve labeled it as such. Before that, it’s simply a circumstance.
So here’s the deal, we logically know that we’re supposed to experience opposition. That we’re going to experience it. It’s part of the plan. There’s going to be opposition in all things. We know this. It’s been this way since Adam and Eve. In 2 Nephi Lehi is teaching his son Jacob about opposition, we read:
“It must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, … righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad” (2 Nephi 2:11; see also verse 15).
As a result, Lehi continued, “the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself”
Here we learn that there’s opposition in ALL things – not just the easy things or only the things we want. I’d like opposition in my ice cream flavors. I’d like strawberry and what’s the opposite to strawberry? It’s like those Harry Potter jelly beans, yuck!
We are agents to act and not be acted upon. Heavenly Father gave us our agency to decide how we want to respond to the circumstances in our lives. What we want to think about those circumstances and then how we’re going to feel.
Okay, so in D&C we read this: “It must needs be that the devil should tempt the children of men, or they could not be agents unto themselves” (D&C 29:39).
Opposition was necessary in the Garden of Eden. If Adam and Eve had not made the choice that introduced mortality, Lehi taught, “they would have remained in a state of innocence, … doing no good, for they knew no sin” (2 Nephi 2:23).
If things were always happy and rainbows how would we know it? Could we know it without the contrast of it? Also, President Dallin H. Oaks teaches that, “Opposition permits us to grow toward what our Heavenly Father would have us become.”
Opposition is the only thing that allows and enables us to be agents to act, to exercise our agency to choose who we want to be, how we’ll feel, and ultimately what we’ll do and create for ourselves in this life.
So here’s the thing, we already know this. We logically know there’s supposed to be opposition in all things. But inside we think, “yes, opposition in all things…except me. Life is supposed to be good and easy and all rainbows.” I say this because when anything negative comes up and we start to feel and experience that negative emotion we tend to freak out a bit and think, something is wrong. This shouldn’t be happening. How can I fix it?
And what if there isn’t any thing to fix? I’m not talking about sin or your choices of that nature. I’m talking about how you’re feeling. What if you’re supposed to feel negative emotions because I firmly believe we are. What you’re supposed to feel angry today? Or sad? or lonely?
What’s wrong with those feelings? Without sadness, could I really comprehend happiness? I have to tell you about a birthday I had when I was younger. Me and my birthdays. I was young, maybe 9? Anyway, I thought my family had forgotten my birthday and to a kid that’s a major deal, right? I remember my cousin coming over and we were outside and I was whining to her that my family forgot my birthday. No one had said anything about it or acknowledged it at all. So that day I remember feeling very sad, disappointed, and let down.
Fast forward hours of negative emotions and my family and I all piled into the car to go somewhere and we pull up to this huge pizza place. The kind full of arcades and games and it was just huge or maybe it seemed huge because I was 9. Anyway we go inside and a big group of people are all there and they yell, “surprise!” and lo and behold they were there to celebrate my day. That was super fun and I felt so happy.
I believe that happy that I felt was much more concentrated than had I known all along. If I had known all along, would I have felt happy? absolutely. But because I knew what sadness and disappointment felt like I also could now fully appreciate the happiness and gratitude I felt upon walking in and seeing so many loved ones. It was one of my favorite birthdays, still memorable after all these many years.
Do I want to re-live that? No, thank you. I’m not a surprise kind of gal. In fact, my husband asked me if I wanted to know what my present was a day early and I’m like, yeah! He teased and said to my youngest daughter who was standing next to me, “But Mommy likes surprises, right?” and she thought for a second and like realizing it for the first time said, “No. Mommy doesn’t like surprises.” We kind of laughed but no, I’m totally one of those people, just tell me. I don’t want to be surprised.
But, getting off topic – opposition is what made that day rich and full of emotions. Without opposition we couldn’t possibly know or feel the full spectrum of emotions. Negative emotions aren’t anything to shy away from either. A feeling, which we’re going to talk more fully about in another episode, is merely a vibration in your body. That’s it. When you think of it in those terms it’s not that scary.
What is embrassament? Think about this one. It’s a vibration in your body. You face gets hot maybe. Your heart beat’s faster. Maybe you feel something heavy in your stomach. No one else feels it. Would you be willing to feel that vibration in your body temporarily so you could comprehend what confidence feels like?
We try so hard to avoid those “opposite” feelings that we end up creating a result that’s far worse than just allowing them and experiencing how they feel in our bodies. So much of the pain comes from resisting or avoiding the emotion. Thinking it shouldn’t be there. Something is wrong. I should be happy.
But what if you just wake up each morning knowing that you’re going to experience negative emotions and it’s okay. It’s not a problem to feel negative emotions. In fact, when you do just allow the feeling to run it’s course through your body it’s not that bad. It’s certainly not as bad as you feared it would be.
When you shift your mindset to this perspective you’re not avoiding or arguing with those negative feelings. You’re not turning them into problems you HAVE to deal with but feelings that you’re grateful for even, that you WANT to experience because without them you couldn’t exercise your agency because you’d have no context to choose from. Opposition allows and enables us to use our agency, remember?
Whenever you can change something from a HAVE to, to a WANT to, it’s not longer a problem. It’s a challenge, something to look forward to even. You have purpose through it and are more willing to feel and experience whatever it is you need to, to understand and more fully appreciate this mortal journey.
I want you to picture this scenario. Say you’re a participant in a scientific test study. Picture yourself sitting in a room and one of the scientists comes in to prep you for this study and what you’re going to do. They tell you that you’re going to go into this big room and your purpose and goal is to just get to the other side to where the exit is and then you can leave. It sounds easy so far. They also tell you that there’s going to be a lot of people in there and you’ll just have to maneuver your way through the crowds to reach your goal. Okay, sounds easy enough. Sure, let’s do this!
So you walk into this room with this purpose, this goal of getting to the other side. And boy, they weren’t kidding, there’s a lot of people in there. Really crowded and as you’re trying to move about it feels like you’re being pushed and shoved. Then you look around and notice that a good portion of the people in there are scowling at you and some even say ugly things to you. Confused you push on. They aren’t all bad. There’s quite a bit that are helping you. They’re try to guide you through the maze of people towards your goal. They’re encouraging you. But then there’s more people blocking your path, telling you to turn around and give up.
Can you picture this? How would you be feeling in this moment? I know that I’d be like, “what the heck?! I don’t even know you! I’m just trying to do my job and get to the other side! Why are they being so mean? Why don’t they like me? This isn’t fun. I don’t want to do this.”
Okay, now you’re in that same small prep room and the scientist is talking to you and prepping you for your job only this time the scientist tells you that half of the people are supposed to say things to you, they’re getting paid to try and distract you or keep you from your goal. They might nudge you but you can decide what you want to do about that and you can ask them to stop. There’s also the other half that are getting paid to help you, to encourage you, to guide you.
So this time you head into this room full of people knowing ahead of time what the deal is. When people start nudging you and saying things to you, you’re thinking, “Oh, that’s supposed to happen. It’s their job. It’s not about me. They’re not being mean to me, it’s just what they’re supposed to be doing. Where are my peeps? That lady is smiling. She can probably help me. I’m just going to keep working towards my goal. I can do this.”
What’s the difference between the two? In the first one when people started saying things to you, you had a thought that they shouldn’t be saying those things or nudging you. This should be easy. It’s just walking across the room. Why are they being so mean?
The second time, you knew ahead of time that there was going to be this opposition. There’s supposed to be challenges. They’re supposed to nudge, talk, and look at me. It’s not about me, it’s their job.
The first time it was a problem because you made it a problem. You thought this shouldn’t be happening. This should be easy. The second time, you embraced opposition knowing that it’s just part of the journey. It’s not about you. You get to decide what you’re going to do about it and just hold your focus on your goal, right?
In a broad and loose sense, we’re in our own study. We’re each having our own expereince. We were prepped and told that we’re not only going to experience opposition but that it’s supposed to be that way. The opposition enables our agency. It provides a way for us to experience the full spectrum of what life has to offer and it allows us to choose who we’re going to be and what path we’re going to follow. It gives us the opportunity to choose Heavenly Father. This is all part of the plan of happiness.
*It’s not a plan of every moment is supposed to be happy but a plan that will provide eternal happiness. Where you can learn by experience how to process your emotions and decide what you’ll make those mean.
Negative feelings aren’t anything to shy away from. They’re a part of life. They give us a great blessing and opportunity to have agency. To choose love over hate, to choose peace over worry, to choose who we are and what is going to help us show up as our best selves.
We call this opposition the 50/50 rule. It’s to know ahead of time that there is going to be opposition in all things – hence, 50/50. It doesn’t feel this way all the time. Most of the time it’s more like 80% positive and 20% negative. But as it says in the scriptures, opposition in ALL things, I like to think of it as 50/50 and I’m just really grateful for the days when it feels like I scored and only had to experience 20%.
It’s also not a daily – this half of the day is going to be great and this half is going to stink. Sometimes the 50/50 is more like this was a great year! So many wonderful things happened and then life throws you a curve ball and instead of thinking that something is painfully wrong, you can remember, “oh yeah, this is the 50% that not’s so fun and that’s okay.”
I love that tag, and that’s okay. I use that tag a lot to help me. Try it, say “And that’s okay” at the end of your sentences.
I’m feeling sad…and that’s okay.
I’m frustrated…and that’s okay.
I didn’t show up as my best today…and that’s okay.
Why is it okay? It’s okay because it’s part of my journey. Because it did happen. Because our loving Father in Heaven provided a way for us to repent, realign our direction, and move forward again.
It’s okay to feel sad sometimes. We don’t want to dwell there or set up camp and live there. But it’s okay to experience them. I believe we even want to experience them so we can more fully comprehend the positives. Those circumstances are just that, a circumstance. It’s not a problem until you make it a problem.
You can say to yourself, “I’m feeling…” label what you’re feeling, then add, “and it’s okay.” I’m not going to feel this way forever. This is part of the 50% and it’s okay. I can do this. I can feel this vibration in my body. It’s not a problem. It’s supposed to be here. I’m supposed to experience this right now and it’s okay.
The tag, “and that’s okay” makes it not scary or a problem anymore. It’s only a problem if we label it a problem. This doesn’t mean that you just have to deal with whatever, you still have your agency. You still have choices to decide, okay…now what do I want to do about it?
If my friend said something that I interpreted as negative I don’t have to think, oh, that’s part of the 50% okay…la, la, la. I have agency. I’m going to choose to feel negative emotions. I don’t want to be happy they said that to me. I want to feel disappointed in that moment. Now what do I want to do about it? I want to ask them not to say that again. I can also add a boundary for me, to protect me. I can say something like, if you do that, I’m going to walk away.
I don’t have to just accept it and take it. I have agency and so do you. But I also don’t have to cave and HAVE to deal with anything. I can choose what I want to think about it, feel about it, and what I want to do about it. That’s the beauty of our agency.
1.) The problem isn’t the problem but rather it’s our thinking that labels it as problem that creates the real problem.
2.) We’re not supposed to be happy all of the time. We’re supposed to experience the full range of emotions, including negative emotions.
3.) Opposition permits us to grow and allows us to have and to use our agency.
4.) Remember the 50/50 rule. There’s supposed to be opposition and that’s okay.
This week as you’re going about life, recognize when you’re experiencing opposition and instead of labeling it as a problem or that something has gone wrong instead just remember it’s okay. It’s supposed to be there and it’s okay. Opposition is essential to God’s plan. Feeling negative emotion is part of the plan. Acknowledge it. Allow it. Then decide who you want to be and how you’re going to show up.
Let me leave you with this quote by Elder James B. Martino,
“Each of us will face adversity no matter where we are. We are taught in the scriptures that there “must needs be … an opposition in all things.” We will each face times of difficulty, and the question is not when we will face them but how we face them.”
Have an eventful week my friends, recognizing and embracing all that life has to offer. See you next time!
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In this week’s episode I share the 50/50 rule – Opposition in all things. We logically know this truth but when we’re in the midst of the 50% negative opposition we tend to freak out a bit and think, “Why is this happening?! This shouldn’t be happening! Something is wrong!
and ultimately create a much bigger problem for ourselves. Tune in to listen to how we can not only embrace this truth but look forward to it with purpose and gratitude.