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Our choices become limited as we strive to be consistent with who we already are. ~Margaret Wheatley

A great truth is one whose opposite is also a great truth. ~Thomas Mann

We cannot choose one perspective over another and expect it to work in all situations without introducing a distortion which eventually bounces back on us in unexpected ways. ~Michael Greenwood

He who confronts the paradoxical exposes himself to reality. ~Friedrich Durrenmatt

We have to be careful not to lock ourselves into one side of a situation or another not recognizing that underlying it all there is only one essential thing and that in that unity all opposites support each other. ~Swami Chetanananda

Everything is dual;
everything has poles;
everything has its pair of   opposites;
like and unlike are the
opposites are identical in
  nature, but different in
extremes meet;
all truths are but
all paradoxes may be
  reconciled. ~Kybalion

Paradoxing Paradox Playing with Opposites

PARADOX: a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement that may nonetheless be true

A paradox is an invitation to creatively depart from common preconceptions of what is true, reasonable or possible. At first glance, a paradox appears bizarre or absurd because "either-or" polarized thinking can not resolve its illogical or self-contradictory nature. Thus, paradoxing involves playing with opposites to deal with "either-or" as "both-and". Paradoxing can be distinguished into three aspects: Identify the Opposite, Juxtapose the Opposites, and Synthesize the Opposites.

IDENTIFY THE OPPOSITE: What is the reverse belief, quality, value, idea, object, practice, function, situation or experience?
  • clarify the context (e.g. if you could wave your magic wand, what would you want? what has bothered you recently? why is this a problem? what have you already thought of or tried? etc)
  • imagine how it can be turned into its opposite(s) (e.g. head in the opposite direction from the normal; exaggerate some dimension or attribute; distort the normal pattern or sequence of relationships)
  • assume that the opposite point of view is worth looking at — what is customarily done or believed is not necessarily the right thing, the best thing, or even a good thing in every circumstances
  • resist the temptation to drop an idea that seems initially absurd — thinking thoughts that are absurd at first glance is an essential part of paradoxing
JUXTAPOSE THE OPPOSITES: Resolve the dilemma: How can I have my cake and eat it too?
  • visualize the opposites together in your mind, holding them there together AT THE SAME TIME
  • consider their relationships, similarities, pros and cons, and interplay (e.g. how do each may need the other, how each may have its place, how one may turn into the other, etc)
  • explore how the opposites can work together in a complementary, mutually reinforcing way
  • adopt a new meaning/perspective, or create something novel and useful, which entails the SIMULTANEOUS presence of opposites in juxtaposition (e.g. a "both-and" understanding, a household hammer with a head for hammering nails and a claw for pulling them out)
SYNTHESIZE THE OPPOSITES: How can opposites be combined in such a way that one can't tell which is which?
  • visualize how to fuse, combine, mingle, integrate, or synthesize the opposites to produce a third possibility — something or idea above and beyond the opposites (e.g. prescription glasses that are both glasses and sunglasses)
NB: adapted from Barret, Derm (1997) The Paradox Process. New York: AMACOM