On Oppositional Energy + Transcending Intimidation
If there’s a plan, there’s good reason to stick to it. The script — The blueprint or the recipe are all maps. Certain deviation can change the outcome; landing at a destination, ways removed from the original intention. And while life be life-ing, producing many a curve ball and monkey wrench, there’s a difference between adapting to those unexpected sharp turns, and abandoning the plan out of fear. That second response can be a short term solution to dispel what scares or intimidates us now; but in the long run, it might bring us right back to square one — At the mouth of the void — The place from where we created a plan in the first place, to intentionally bring about a desired change in our lives.
But the temptation to cave in and compromise, for an easier path or shortcut, is especially ripe when we’re out of our depth. When our comfort zone is disrupted — When life feels sour rather than sweet. There are many of us who would prefer to be handed lemonade rather than lemons. Substitutes are presented before us, that provide immediate relief from that bitter discomfort — From the DIY effort that re-configures lemons into lemonade. But for how long will that relief last? One has to wonder if that fear we felt was also short-term. And if given its due time, would our apprehension prove itself to be as temporary as clouds shifting through shapes in the sky.
Making matters more complicated are Ego and Pride. The two stubborn Knights of Appearance who will beat their horse to death rather than admit they’re lost or in need of rest and water. Ego and Pride work to safeguard your outward appearance from unfavorable judgement. They’re like a PR team who hustle to place you in the best possible light where you appear the most brilliant, regardless if it’s based on truth or not. They place validation on the ideas of others and wish only to receive great reviews from critics. In the past, these two have tricked me into believing adaptation is fear. They refuse to bend when the universe generates or reveals new information, upgrades we need to download and integrate. As our actions tug on the universe, the universe spills out more universe — Sometimes adaptation requires we put our Ego aside, swallow our Pride and even go against our plan (if it’s too rigid).
So there are times when you feel like quitting a mission because you’re out of your element — .And there are times when you need to pivot your effort but Ego & Pride are saying ‘no!’ because of how it will make you look. Which also boils down to fear. Ironically, in attempt to avoid appearing afraid, Ego & Pride give in to the fear of appearing afraid. Fear is always an obstacle and even if it stops us for a moment, it need not be the reason we jump ship completely.
For anything worth doing, worth placing effort in materializing our purpose — That which fills our heart with joy — A reminder of Murphy’s Law is a nice charm to keep in one’s pocket. Murphy’s Law states: Anything that can happen (whether helpful or unhelpful) will happen. It’s basically an engineering mantra, a reminder to expect the unexpected, because any worst case scenario you can imagine, equally parallel to the best case, is also possible. I like adding to this, the concept of adversity and opposition. Any helpful intention you’re trying to get off the ground will face a sort of unhelpful gravity that pulls it back. An oppositional energy. It’s a neutral force that becomes oppositional only with context; like a rainy day on the Tuesday you were planning to have a picnic. The same rainy day has a different effect on the musician who planned to stay home and compose a rainy-day-type-beat.
The rain remained just rain, there was no real determination on its part to fuck up any specific person’s plan — It neither had an agenda nor picked a side. In fact, the plan or intention itself is what incites its opposition just like shaping sand into a castle is what re-interprets the oncoming waves into a destructive nemesis. So just as it’s said of trash and treasure, one intention’s opp is another intention’s plug.
Oppositional energy isn’t always outright rain, waves, or fear. Other times it can be amiable and even well-intended. It’s the invitation to a party when your ass should stay home and study for the exam awaiting you the following morning. It’s the free, carb-heavy meal offered the day you began a no-carb diet. It’s receiving a promotion at the job you were planning to quit for another opportunity altogether. None of these offerings are trying to sabotage you, only you can decide to abandon your intention. Also, it’s worth mentioning, under a different context any of these offerings are blessings. A promotion! Free food! Even the party is helpful to the person who’s over-studied and could use a night of dancing to relax the mind and body.
Being contextual, I like to think oppositional energy plays off progressive intention, like attuned musicians play off one another in a jam session. The plan you’ve set forth is what potentially transforms the neutral environment around you into an obstacle course. The river was always wide but it wasn’t a problem until the day you decided to cross it without a boat or bridge. But beyond adversity stands progression, because the right problems send you on the path to discover the right solutions, in relation to your own personal plan— From breakdowns to breakthroughs — Those solutions are portals into new spaces. Those solutions are steps closer to your destination. Like Ganesha, the beloved, elephant-headed deity of the Hindu pantheon, those solutions crack the cipher and remove obstacles.
But before reaching those solutions, the obstacles will challenge you, vex your spirit, make you question yourself but there’s strength (secretly offered) in adversity. That’s not to excuse mistreatment or going out of your way to become an adversary (rain with an agenda) but because we are shaped by what we experience, we are transformed by what we overcome.
It’s also true we are transformed by what we don’t overcome, trauma can mold a defensive armor around you that’s primarily focused on survival, not transcendence. Because of this, another thing to keep in mind regarding oppositional energy, is that it seems to place the most stress on our weakest practice(s). Similar to our bodies during an exercise, what needs the most work will most intensely feel the workout. The vulnerable or undisciplined areas of our lives will be tempted toward deviation from the plan when they’re tested. In the aforementioned example of a job promotion, any anxiety about self-worth and self-perception, for instance, will whisper imposter syndromes into our ear. Pressuring us into excuses that settle for the unaligned familiar, rather than taking a leap of faith into the desired unknown. Someone who’s perhaps had the opportunity to build out their confidence muscle and joint values will more readily endure the weight of those temptations.
It all depends on what we’ve been through and the self-awareness that allows for a lucid understanding of what we need to work on in order to realize our intentions. The more support we give these areas of our lives—That stagger behind as we proceed forward—The better we fortify them for the oncoming oppositional energy that Murphy’s Law often guarantees. Again, sandcastles on the shore. It’s like building a house in a region prone to tornadoes or hurricanes, one has to anticipate engagement with these natural disasters by incorporating designs that respectfully consider their potential impact. How will the metaphoric hurricanes sweep through your plan? That’s the space Murphy’s Law will ask you to hold. How will you protect the foundation of your intention from the wild winds?
Or…when it’s all said and done, will the destruction be to the benefit of the original intention, revealing the weakest parts of its organization? Not to get all survival-of-the-fittest, but our ideas can sometimes be un-fit. Ill-shaped—The data that went into their formation, incomplete or inaccurate. The hurricanes and tornadoes that pick apart our blueprint for short-sighted discrepancies are in fact, doing us a favor. I love that Ganesha, the remover of obstacles, is also known to create them. The obstacles ultimately becoming a tunnel, unlocking new dimensions within the same space, via the solutions to the right problems.
At its worst, oppositional energy is an intimidator. A loud bark that echoes, to convince us the bite is just as ferocious (and sometimes it is). Its effect might shake us up, provoking us to abandon the plan—Magnifying all the potential for failure while obscuring the possibilities for success. But at its most constructive, oppositional energy is maintenance. A way to clear out excesses of ego and pride; creating room for humility. It’s an opportunity to face fear, and self-affirm the value of your intentions by testing them and discovering creative solutions when they get blocked. How bad do you desire this and why? And are you willing to learn from what you don’t yet know? The lessons which pull in the opposite direction—Revealing new trails to complete the part of your vision which lurked in the un-illuminated depths of the mind. In that abysmal cocoon, awaiting the darkest hours of night for you to discover the necessary fire—Which lights more of the way toward your destination.