Using reverse psychology with stress and discomfort


This is one of my favorite little “tricks”, and it helps me change how I relate to stressful thoughts, uncomfortable emotions, and some types of physical discomfort.

In a nutshell:

Notice what’s going on. Take a few seconds to make it as strong as you can. Let it go and rest for a few seconds. Repeat two or three times. Notice any changes.

And a few examples:

I notice frustration with my health. I take a few seconds to make it as strong as I can. I let it go and relax. After a few seconds, I repeat. I notice any changes or shifts. (The frustration doesn’t seem so much like a problem, there is more space and lightness.)

There is a slight headache at my temples. I intend to make it as strong as I can for two to five seconds. I release it and rest. After five to ten seconds, I repeat. (I notice my relationship to it has changed. It doesn’t seem as much as a problem and there is a sense of spaciousness.)

I notice some anger in the background. I intend to make it as strong as I can for a few seconds. Release. Repeat. (After, I notice spaciousness. A sense of freedom around it. A sense of befriending the anger more. And less anger.)

Why or how does this work? Any time I experience something that’s uncomfortable to me, my mind tends to be in a subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) struggle with it. There is a wish to escape from it or for it to go away. And this subtle struggle tends to hold it in place.

When I reverse this by intending to make it stronger, there is a 180-degree shift in how I relate to it. Instead of struggling with it, I join it. I support it in its effort. I consciously join its team. And this, at least temporarily, releases the struggle.

Doing this is a process of changing my relationship to it. Finding some curiosity about it. Befriending it. And this is not only a relief but can allow it to shift and move and find its freedom.

What’s uncomfortable is made uncomfortable because my mind fights it. It’s not uncomfortable in itself. It’s my relationship to it that makes it uncomfortable. So by shifting my relationship to it, it’s not experienced in the same way anymore.

Most of the articles here are about healing and awakening through aligning with reality. Notice what’s already here. Notice what I am. Living more consciously as what I am.

This one is a little different since it’s more a “trick”. But it does get us to the same place of getting to know something previously exiled in us, and perhaps befriending it and changing our relationship to it.

Like so much in these articles, it’s a small piece of the puzzle.

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Paradoxical intention

[…] when insomniacs tried to force themselves to stay awake, they were able to fall asleep. – How to fall sleep by not trying
Paradoxical intention can work in several areas of life. One is falling asleep. If we try to fall asleep, and stress out about not falling asleep, we may be less likely to fall asleep. So if we instead lie in bed, with eyes open, and try to stay awake, we may more easily fall asleep. It’s tiring, and it reduces the stress of trying to fall asleep and not being able to. Another is when we have an uncomfortable experience. Usually, we try to avoid or escape it, and that tends to maintain it or even make it stronger. So instead, we can welcome it and even amplify it, intend for it to be stronger. We change our relationship to it, and it tends to soften and appear different to us. It seems less threatening, and the charge may even go out of it. Read More

Barry McDonagh: How to stop panic attacks


A good summary of some of the tools I also have found helpful.

(a) Remind yourself it’s there to help. It will pass. You will survive, and have before.

(b) Get excited about it. Amplify and make it stronger. Ride it out

(c) Shake it out. (Including TRE.)

These are helpful in relating to any strong and uncomfortable experiences.


Amplify / release and getting to see it’s not as scary as it seems


I enjoy exploring the amplify / release technique.

Notice a body contraction, or an uncomfortable experience of any type. (Discomfort, restlessness, cravings, fear, anger, sadness, physical or emotional pain, a body contraction.)

Amplify it. Make it stronger. Do this for about 10 seconds. (Intend to make it stronger, whether you are able to actually make it stronger or not.)

Release. Relax. Take a full breath. Maybe hum a tune. Do this for 10 seconds.

Repeat a few times. Notice what, if anything, happens.

Several things happen here.

We bring attention to the discomfort. This brings it out of the habitual (and often stressful) thoughts reacting to or fueling it.

We get to notice how we intentionally make it stronger. We may bring up or strengthen certain images or words, we may contract the muscles in the area of the sensations or body contraction.

We get to see the imaginations and sensations making up the discomfort is perhaps not as scary as it initially seemed. As long as we avoid it, we reinforce the idea that it’s scary, and the experience of it as scary. When we meet it, we get to see more closely what’s really there (imaginations and sensations), and that it’s not as scary as it initially seemed.

Each of these helps us shift our relationship to it and befriend it more genuinely. It may also help the charged combination of imaginations and sensations soften its charge.

This, in turn, makes it easier to continue to rest with it and explore the different elements making it up.

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Amplify / Release


This is a very simple technique that I find helpful.

Whenever there is an energy – an emotion, feeling, craving, reaction or contraction – and there is some resistance to it…..

Make it as strong as you can for 10 sec.

Then let go, relax, breathe for 10 sec.

Repeat once or a few times as needed.

What happens? That is something to explore and it’s new each time. For me, the initial energy tends to seem less scary or problematic. Sometimes, it also softens or releases.

How or why does it work? We don’t really know, and we don’t really need to know. At the same time, here is a few possible answers that stand out to me:

Facing what we fear. When I make it as strong as I can I get to see that it isn’t as scary as it initially seemed. As long as I resisted it and kept it at a metaphorical arm’s length distance, it seemed scary to me. When I enter it and tried to make it stronger, it seems less scary. It’s a troll bursting as it’s hit by the rays of the sun.

What we resist persist. At least in this area of life. If I try to make a certain experience go away, either consciously or more unconsciously, it tends to stay and sometimes strengthen. When I instead intentionally try to make it stronger, I go against the impulse to resist, and that seems to allow it to relax and soften. (Of course, doing in order to make it go away is an expression of resistance so that doesn’t really work….!)

Some additional points:

Reinforcing my belief about it. When I resist an experience, I act on a belief that it’s scary or problematic, and that reinforces that belief. Going against it, I get to see that it isn’t as scary as it initially appeared.

Seeing how it’s created. When I try to make it as strong as possible, I get to see how I can make it stronger. Perhaps by tightening certain muscles, look at certain images, repeat certain words. I get some insight into how it’s created. Or I get to see I can’t do it. Either way, it’s helpful information.

I read about this amplify/release technique in one of Joey Lott’s books. And I have written about it before on this blog.

Update April 4. As I keep exploring this for myself, I see that it feels easier to amplify the sensations for 10-30 percent. It doesn’t have to be “as much as I can”. It’s more about the intention, and over time it’s easier to do it just a bit. Seems to have the same effect.

It’s been very helpful to do this more regularly over some time, and go through the different areas of the body that has chronic or recurrent contractions.

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Amplify / Release II


I have written about the amplify / release experiment before.

Notice something stressful, uncomfortable or painful.

Amplify it. Make it as strong as you can. Do this for 10 seconds.

Release. Relax. Hum a song. Do this for about as long.

Repeat a few times.

Among other things, this helps me notice how I try to make it stronger.

Bring attention to the sensations. Amplify images (clarity, size, content). Amplify words (tone of voice, volume, content). These are the sensations, images, and words already making up the initial stressful or uncomfortable experience.

Feel contractions. Tighten certain muscles. Hold the breath. Create a face that goes with the feelings. Look at an image of me feeling a certain way. Exaggerate that image.

This is very helpful in educating my mind about how it creates its own stressful and uncomfortable experiences. I get to see how velcro is crated (velcro = belief = identification = hangups = mind knots).

For instance, I had a feeling of being unloved come up.

I notice and feel the sensations in the heart and throat area. I notice and look at an image of me looking unloved, sad, lonely. I hear myself say the word UNLOVED and the words I AM UNLOVED and listen to the sound.

I notice I hold my breath back, and amplify that by tensing muscles in the chest and belly area.

I see an image of me alone, with people in the periphery having fun and feeling connected. I make the picture stronger, clearer.

And so on. All of this helps me see how my mind creates the initial experience of being unloved and alone.

The amplify / release experiment does a lot more than this. See the initial post for more.

Amplify / release


Here is a simple technique to explore any uncomfortable or stressful experience:

Amplify it. Make it stronger.

Then release. Relax. Take a breath.

Do each for about 10 seconds. Repeat if needed.

There are several things happening here.

I get to see how I would amplify a stressful or uncomfortable experience. I may tense up certain muscles. Hold my breath. Strengthen an image, or bring additional (stressful) images to mind. I may strengthen words, or bring in additional stressful words. I may remember one or more specific instances from the past. I may look at a scenario about the future. I may see a picture of myself being a certain way.

I face what I fear. I face the scary images, words and sensations. I meet them. Go into them. Make them even stronger. Through facing them, and seeing that nothing really bad happened, they seem less scary.

I get to see that my past habit was to (sometimes) avoid painful or scary images, words, and sensations. And now I get to turn around and do the exact opposite, and it’s OK. Maybe I don’t need to avoid, get rid of, or run away from uncomfortable images, words, and sensations. Maybe there is another way.

My mind gets to experience – at a more visceral level – that nothing really bad happened even if I met and made these scary things stronger. It was OK.

The mind gets to see that these scary things are mind made. They are images, words, and sensations, and they can be made stronger, and then released, and then brought back.

There may also be an element of sense of control here. When I amplify scary images, words, and sensations, there is a sense of control. (However slight.)

What’s the effect of doing this?

For me, it makes the images, words, and sensations less scary.

It makes it easier for me to meet them, to look at the images and words, and feel the sensations.

Sometimes, almost as a side effect, the intensity of the experience is reduced. It lessens.

This is similar to the pointers of meeting my experience, welcoming it, even finding love for it. It’s just a different and more enhanced way.

Thanks to Joey Lott for sharing this technique in some of his (excellent) books.

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