Using Opposite Action
What's The Urge?
What's The Opposite?
Real World Examples
100

What is Opposite Action?

OPPOSITE ACTION (or Opposite Action to Emotion) is a skill we use when we recognize our emotions are leading to urges to act ineffectively. We can bring our intense emotions back to baseline by choosing (sometimes we have to choose more than once) to act OPPOSITE of our emotional urge.

100

Urges we may have when we're sad or lonely

_______ (many answers: some possibilities include isolation, avoidance, self-harm) - "vegging," withdrawing, turning inward and becoming passive.

100

I'm super angry because someone is threatening me. My urge is to tell them off in front of everyone so they won't mess with me again.

___________

Remove self from the situation

Self-soothing 


100

Name a time recently when you used Opposite Action effectively.

________________

200

What questions can I ask myself when I'm emotional to see if it's a good time to use Opposite Action?

Does my emotion fit the situation?

Does the intensity of my emotion fit the situation?

Am I having an urge to do something ineffective?

200

Urges we may have when we're angry

__________ - generally our anger urges involve the FIGHT in fight/flight/freeze. This could be aggressive language, yelling, passive aggression/sarcasm, slamming doors, cold shoulder - or turning the "attack" urge on ourselves (shame) using substances, self-harm, etc.

200

While I'm eating lunch, I see my significant other talking and laughing with a very attractive friend of mine across the room. I feel intensely jealous and want to question them and tell them to spend less time talking to that person.

____________

200

Name a time recently that you acted on an urge when opposite action would have been more effective.

___________

300

Name another skill we use to examine our emotions before we use OA.

Mindfulness

300

Urges we may have when we're jealous

_________ - jealousy urges usually have to do with regaining control - making someone feel less important so WE don't feel less important, or removing someone else's choices so we feel they can't hurt us.

300

When I try to explain to my mother that my depression is hard to manage right now, she's irritated and says some invalidating things. I want to cry in bed, turn on sad songs, and ruminate about my feelings in texts to my friends.

__________

300

What's an example of a time when using Opposite Action would NOT be effective?

When we feel FEAR (not anxiety) because of an actual threat to our safety, the APPROACH action is not a good idea!

400

True or False: Opposite Action, if we do it right, is an action we will only need to do once in a situation.

FALSE. Oftentimes it takes more than one use of *any* skill before we can bring our emotion to a level that matches the situation. Be patient with yourself!

400

Urges we may have when we feel shame

_______ - shame urges usually prompt us to hide, avoid, or withdraw.

400

Because I've been busy with treatment, work, and taking care of the kids, I've spent less time with friends recently, and a friend confronts me to tell me she's upset because I didn't "make a big enough deal" out of her birthday. I feel ashamed and like a disappointment, and have the urge to isolate and self-harm.

____________

400

It's important to use Opposite Action radically or "all the way." What does this mean?

Our behaviors, words and thinking match; we complete the whole action and don't use cop-outs; we keep trying if it doesn't work the first time (or use a different skill)

500

What are some obstacles to using OA?

Willfulness, physical state, being in emotion mind/not being mindful, etc.

500

Urges we may have with intense positive feelings? (think about being super excited, happy, having a crush...)

_______ - positive feelings can bring out impulsive urges ("I just got paid, time to buy ALL the shoes"). While love is a positive emotion, it can also create urges to discard healthy boundaries (changing our appearance to impress someone, rescuing behaviors, staying up all night texting someone to keep their attention)

500

At work, I meet a new co-worker who is also in treatment in a different program but struggling with similar issues to mine. This co-worker is awesome to spend time with and really seems to get me. She also brings me her problems frequently. Because I really care about her and want her as a friend, I have the urge to brainstorm lots of solutions for her and promise to come get her if she needs help, no matter what.

_____________

500

Name a situation in the near future in which applying opposite action may be helpful.

_____________

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