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  • Writer's pictureCharlie Laurel, LCMHC

Counterintuitive # 3

Counterintuitive or counter-habitual? I've been listening to how the word 'counterintuitive' is used in casual conversation. For example, “It may seem counterintuitive, but if you use your peripheral vision you're more likely to spot animals in the woods than if you are constantly scanning with your central vision.” Suggesting that using central vision is more intuitive than using peripheral vision. But what does intuition have to do with it? Seems like habitual would be more accurate. Most of us hyper-modernized folks habitually focus narrowly and scan about in focused searches.

Now, how about this one: “It may seem counterintuitive, but if you are willing to feel anxious, you will have more success in life.” Perhaps it is intuitive, that if anxiety is interfering with action, then you have to get rid of anxiety. But that is kind of a leap. Is it having anxious thoughts and feelings that interferes with doing what is important in life? Or is it the struggle with thoughts and feelings, and the efforts to avoid or control them, that interferes? Using ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) in counseling sessions, we slow way down and check in with the fine grain of our lived experience. Usually turns out, counter-habitually, that learning to drop the struggle with anxious thoughts and feelings is one of the keys to not being ruled by anxious thoughts and feelings. I think, intuitively, people know that struggling with anxiety actually makes it worse, but we struggle habitually. Does it seem counterintuitive that the new habits that run counter to struggling do not involve struggle?

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