Thursday, August 17, 2006

Flipside Technique

After my moment of enlightenment in the bath (in Zen Buddhism this is known as "satori" - a sudden illumination; in Western culture, an epiphany), I decided to look around for books to help me build upon this perspective.

The first one I came across was How To Develop A Positive Attitude by Elwood N Chapman (I loved the name of the author - for me it conjures up a thin, dapper guy with a reedy voice, wearing spectacles and sporting a spotted bow tie).

It's a great little book, portable at only 77 pages and with a number of very effective but accesible techniques. The one I immediately locked into was what Mr Chapman calls the Flipside Technique, that is taking any situation, no matter how painful, and trying to see something positive in it. You flip the problem over, as it were, like a coin. This is obviously hard when the situation is tragic although people do wrest comfort from the most dire circumstances. I guess this what we try to do at funerals when we attempt to focus on celebrating the life of the person we have lost even when the pain of loss is uppermost.

This technique is sometimes referred to as "reframing". It's a creative approach to the negativity that trips us up daily. It helps us deal with the imperfections of life.

Basically, it comes down to the choice between empowering yourself (trying to find the positive) or caving in to situations and disempowering yourself (why does this shit always happen to me!).

Sometimes all that's required to use the flipside technique is to be able to laugh at yourself more. This immediately defuses any situation where you feel you've messed up. It's all too easy to start beating yourself up about it. Reframing nips that in the bud.

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