“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.” F. Scott Fitzgerald
When I am trying to achieve something new in my life, I must first arrive somewhere new in my own mind. I have to start by picturing the outcome I wish to experience. I need to center my mind on the goal and imagine that my life is that way now. I need to experience it in my imagination as though it has already happened. Yet, at the same time, I must keep myself rooted in reality. I need to remind myself of where I am now, so that I can effectively deal with what is right in front of me. I need to take a hard look at what got me where I am so that I can learn from it and do better going forward. And, ultimately, I need a solid plan that gets me to the goal.
Holding two concepts in one’s mind at the same time is needed because both realities are real and both can be used to churn out the new desired outcome. Flipping back and forth between the two realities (one, where you are now, and, two, where you want to go) is great fuel and information for creating lasting change. When we have compared and contrasted two different realities thoroughly enough, a new balance between the two emerges, and voila, a new life with a new lasting reality has begun.
The desire to lose weight is the perfect example. When I focus on the slender arms, legs and torso I imagine I can have, I feel motivated and excited about how easily my favorite pair of jeans will slip on. I imagine going on a shopping spree in my own closet as I rediscover old favorites that now fit again. I imagine naturally choosing foods that support the look and feel of my new, slender body. I imagine a whole new relationship with food and physical activity. I imagine every cell in my body being in tune with the new desired outcome working with me to make it happen.
At the same time, I stay committed because I am dealing with what is in front of me. I take a good look in the mirror to assess the damage that has happened while I was focused elsewhere. I look at my excuses (or good reasons) how the extra weight has crept on. I consider the beliefs and habits I learned from my family that affect my weight gain – not blaming, just taking inventory. I keep a food journal long enough to evaluate my food habits. I get very honest with myself. I might even count calories for a short time to remind myself of what is in what.
Most importantly, I hold both a sense of compassion and motivation (which are not necessarily opposites but they can feel that way sometimes) in my mind at once. I both forgive myself for what I have created, accepting this is where I am for the moment, meanwhile enlivening the picture of reality I know I can and will create for myself next.
Another example might be financial struggles where you would hold the image of life with balanced finances, plenty to pay all your bills and plenty to save for the future and to invest. You would imagine feeling peaceful and secure about money. You might write down a specific number you want to have by a certain age. You would evaluate the beliefs and habits you grew up with and make new decisions about how you want to believe and think about money now. Meanwhile, you would honestly access where you are, forgive all that has happened that brought you to where you are now, figuring out which choices led to which outcomes, learning from the past so that you can make new choices.
Comparing and contrasting where you are now to where you imagine you can and will be is how we learn and evolve our thinking.
When we get committed to creating something new, we get honest with ourselves about it. We compare and contrast our two realities. We honor both and come to a place of acceptance of where we are. We stay motivated about where we are going by holding our new possible reality firmly in our minds. And through this a solid plan forward emerges.