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Counter Intuitive Moves

CharlieSeveral years ago I attended a lecture by a well-known spiritual teacher and arrived twenty minutes late. On my way in I asked the doorman to give me a condensed version of what I’d missed. He paused for a moment then said two words: “Trust yourself”.

“Wow!” I thought, “That’s profound.” The rest of the talk was commentary on the theme of self-trust, with many examples of how powerful self-trust is and what a difference it can make when you have it. I found myself being left with some questions about self-trust that led me to the awareness that I often had experienced conflicting messages when I tuned into my experience or I should say, my experiences since there frequently seemed to be more than oneself speaking to me which left me with the question of which “self” should I trust? Which is the “real me”? Is it the one that urges me to take the risk or to play it safe? Is it the one who tells me to go ahead and indulge my desire for a second helping of pasta or the one that admonishes me to resist the temptation? Is it the one that tells me that it’s okay to exaggerate the amount of time I spend working out each week or the one that tells me to be totally honest?

I knew (or at least believed) that I had a “true self” and that I had an ego and that I sometimes had trouble distinguishing who was talking to me. Over time, I became more able to discern who is doing the talking, although even these days there are times when I’m not exactly certain.One of the things that I have learned is that what feels familiar isn’t necessarily my “truth”, and what feels uncomfortable isn’t necessarily untrustworthy. We often tend to believe that something that feels “natural”, “normal”, or “familiar” is the correct option to choose. Choosing something other than the “correct” option feels uncomfortable and is often referred to as “counterintuitive”, meaning that our intuition tells us that it is wrong.

Favoring the voice that tells us to do what is familiar is strong. The voice that suggests anything other than that is threatening. Despite the tendency to favor our “intuition”, there are times when being counter-intuitive is more likely to produce the outcome that we desire. Doing what doesn’t come naturally can be the very thing that can neutralize old patterns that no longer serve us.

Here are some examples:

Go on “blame-fast”. Resist the temptation to focus on what the other person has done wrong. Take responsibility for your contribution to the breakdown, blaming neither yourself nor your partner.

Move towards the pain, not away from it. The universal impulse is to withdraw from what is causing us pain and to move towards what is pleasurable. While some interactions can be painful, the willingness to feel the truth of our experience can provide us with the understanding we need to connect more authentically with our partner. More often than not, avoiding or denying our reality causes more suffering than facing it does.

When in doubt, strengthen rather than weaken your commitment to the relationship.

When we are feeling unloved it’s common to justify a decision to violate your commitment to the relationship. While there are circumstances that should not be tolerated, many partners make the mistake of choosing to withdraw their commitment before they have given things their best shot. Don’t give up too soon.

Face into the Unknown. Most of us want to stay in our predictable comfort zone. It’s common to fear the mystery, surrender control, be vulnerable, and proceed without our pictures of how life is supposed to be. We all carry these pictures in our mind of the way our partner’s love should be shown. It’s counter-intuitive to bravely stride into what feels foreign, strange, and unfamiliar. Sometimes, doing that very thing is what’s needed.

Reach out to ask for help. When the relationship is in trouble, we may feel ashamed, isolate, or act as if everything is fine. The counter-intuitive move would be to ask for help from family, friends, and professionals. It may be embarrassing, but admitting our confusion can free us from the difficulty. Only then do we open ourselves up to input that can make all the difference.

These counter-intuitive moves do not come easily, at least not at first. We have to consciously decide to commit ourselves to the process. It may be a struggle, and it definitely does require effort, but with practice, the moves become graceful and natural. Don’t take our word for it. Experiment and find out from your own experience what unfolds.


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Counter Intuitive Moves


Linda Bloom LCSW and Charlie Bloom MSW are considered experts in the field of relationships. They have been married since 1972. They have both been trained as seminar leaders, therapists and relationship counselors and have been working with individuals, couples, and groups since 1975. They have been featured presenters at numerous conferences, universities, and institutions of learning throughout the country and overseas as well. They have appeared on over two hundred radio and TV programs. Linda and Charlie are co-authors of the widely acclaimed books: 101 Things I Wish I Knew When I Got Married: Simple Lessons to Make Love Last (over 100,000 copies sold) Secrets of Great Marriages: Real Truth from Real Couples about Lasting Love, and Happily Ever After...and 39 Other Myths about Love: Breaking Through to the Relationship of Your Dreams. The Blooms are excited to announce the release of their fourth book, That Which Doesn't Kill Us: How One Couple Became Stronger at the Broken Places. They live in Santa Cruz, California, near their two children and three grandchildren. To view our upcoming events and to sign up for our free newsletter, visit our website at:

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APA Reference
Bloom, L. (2020). Counter Intuitive Moves. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 24, 2020, from


Last updated: 30 Jul 2020
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.