- When we're chasing after a pet house cat with no success, we may suddenly reverse our approach and get the cat to come to us. We stop intimidating the cat with our huge size and speed by getting seated down on the floor or in a chair. Rather than trying to catch the cat, we become alluring and patient so the cat comes around to check us out. We drop out of appearing so predictable with our one goal in mind to being mysterious and hard to predict our next move.
- When we are convinced we have to push to get our way, get our product sold, or get others convinced, it's quite a turnaround to switch to pulling. Rather than sell, we set up others to sell themselves. Rather than tell, we ask and listen. Rather than pitch the features and benefits, we get them thinking about potential uses in their own context. We switch from creating product to creating demand for the product.
- When we're thinking as if the sun revolves around the earth, we're convinced we are center of attention, irreplaceable and the most important person in the room. When we go through a personal experience of the Copernican revolution, it's as if we are one more planet in the solar system. Now we are paying attention to all the other centers and are no more important than everyone else. It's as if we've been dancing on a tabletop looking down on others and are suddenly seated at the table among equals, looking eye to eye at each other.
- When our past history is in the foreground, we're consumed with telling everyone what happened to us, how to sympathize with our plight and why we cannot change because of our damage. The background contains what is happening now that we assume is of no significance. After a figure/ground reversal, our past history is suddenly in the background. In the foreground we can smell the coffee, enjoy the day and show interest in the little things we've been ignoring.
- When we're trying to make change happen, we're opposed to stability because it looks like stagnation, resistance to change and no progress at all. When we flip/flop into an effective change strategy, we deepen everyone's experience of stability by exploring what's too good to lose, what won't change amidst the transition and why there's so much worth keeping as is. This gives people solid ground to stand on, familiarity amidst the strangeness and enough safety to cope with the dangers.
- When people are not learning what we're teaching, preaching or presenting, we assume they are too stupid, unmotivated or preoccupied to get the great material we're sharing. There's no way the problem could be in our "sage on stage", "big mouth" approach. When we get turned around, we become the "guide on the side" with a smaller mouth. We speak of how the message has effected other audiences, how to avoid mistaking the message for something else, or how to take the ideas and run with them to get a better result.
- When we're totally opposed to something, it's clear in our minds that it is totally wrong, bad, dysfunctional, toxic, harmful or evil. No good can come of it and there's no two ways about it. If we get thrown for a loop, our comprehension gets complicated. We see the good that comes with the bad, the bigger picture that plays off our opposition and the unintended side effects of being totally opposed to something. We figure out how to allow, appreciate and respect what was previously unacceptable.
Reversals on the way to integration
In my introduction to the process of psychological integration, I used the example of "it's all about me" becoming "it's all about you" to explain the phase called reversal. There are several other examples to be explored for this integration thing so seem widely applicable.