I still remember a Seinfeld show where George decides to do everything the opposite of what his usual response or behavior would be. He was trying to get somewhere with women. I then heard a spiritual teaching which matches a DBT skill encouraging that you go to the opposite of a thought or opinion when you’re very strongly on one side. Think of something you hate with a passion and imagine loving it. Or, take an extreme opinion and then go with the opposite. Besides being fun it actually helps you cultivate compassion. Therapists need to do this often with extreme inner reactions to check that they don’t have an agenda of their own for their patient.
I have been trying to cultivate this idea, not to do an opposite behavior, but it does help me realize when I’m stuck in a judgment or attachment to something, whether it’s an idea I have or something I avoid doing.
Simple example: washing dishes. I start washing something. I notice a judgment about the sink being dirty and notice immediate avoidance of the sink itself. New me makes myself go to the old food in sink or whatever it is and clean the sink. Sounds silly but it’s amazing the information you can get from noticing small things you skirt around.
When you go into something you usually run away from, life gets interesting. And funny. Here is another example of what Freud called “Resistance.” You can learn important things about yourself when you notice your resistance, even to your own garbage can! It is possible to find out you are afraid of dealing with some part of your own garbage! I’m sure this example is a metaphor for how we de with big things too: I put something in the kitchen garbage. It falls past the bag. I get annoyed and feel a lazy part of myself take over. Usually, I put the bag on better but don’t pick up the food that fell under it. This reminds me how I tend to approach things in life; start something strong, then stop and move on to something else without finishing the task. All day long I do this. It is there in my old way of blogging. I’d get an idea and get excited. Then rush through posting it and barely look at it before pushing Publish. How do you help others with self-esteem if you don’t value your own self expression. I’ve basically been devaluing my own blog posts!
This post got published by mistake because I don’t know how to save a postbox the app. So I decided to choose to edit it rather than take time to figure out the saving process. The new thing is that I knew the choices AND picked a choice to solve the problem!
Blogging example, continued: when others would talk about taking too long to write and publish their post I would think “Not me.” I don’t have that “problem”. New me stops to admire the process of the other person, get off the competition train, and learn from the slow and steady. I find out that rushing to post on my blog is like rushing through anything. It prevent me from enjoying the ride and makes me “compete” with myself.
Doing the opposite helped me realize I don’t like competing, and I am not envious and don’t have to compare myself to others. Letting go of that opens a whole new world! I knew that stuff, but actually experiencing versus knowing is very different!!!
Anyway in my art, this isn’t quite the same thing, but my newest idea was based on some things I thought out in a similar way.
I’ve been making scribble horizontal repetitive marks type drawings. On the opposite side I have been drawing by copying animal medicine cards, a left over from the inspiration of doing the commission I worked on in June.
I noticed people responding to my “objective” drawings otherwise known as “realist”. I don’t like the term realist as it means nothing in art. Whatever you draw is real to you. Abstract is also an annoying term as lines and marks are lines and marks. Objective and non objective seem to capture these concepts in a better way.
Anyway, the other day I decided to try cutting out my black and white drawings of animals, clouds, feathers etc. and gluing them on to the opposite type drawings. I felt an attraction and pull to this idea; never did this before, something new, a way to move past a feeling of both types of drawings seems limited and maybe “boring”. It was exciting to put together two “flat/blah” things and suddenly feel a charge of energy in the resulting image and during the process!
On the opposite side of being attracted to the idea, I had to get past some silly prejudices, like, if I cover some part of this “background” with the cutout of the other piece, I will be wasting effort spent on it… Or, if I cut the drawing out I’m ruining the drawing…
Just do it. That made sense. Kind of who cares? Nobody gets hurt or cares what you’re doing. Duh, as any 6 year old would say. This is the part where my usual first response of just do it and don’t worry about what it looks like serves me well!!!
The resulting images were fun. I have no idea what it’s doing but I felt the fusion feeling of putting together opposites!!!
Below are a bunch of different drawings/collages that demonstrate this process. Some are my discoveries of scribbling and doing the “background”, and others show the 2 attempts at fusion. One is a lightning cloud and the other is the Turtle Medicine Card collaged on to a drawing.
Funny how I’m talking about slowing down, and here comes the turtle: “Slow and steady wins the race.” I would amend this to say “Slow and steady gets you out of the race you now don’t want to be in!”