Maybe We Need to Contract Before We Expand

Image of the sides of open hands, palms facing each other, as if to show them moving together and apart

Today’s article was written by Change Coach Kristina Bruce


I remember being at the end of Byron Katie’s 9-day School for The Work, and she was delivering parting words to us attendees.


She held her hands up, palms facing each other at a distance apart, and then drew them closer to each other, then back out again. As she did this she said “expand, contract, expand, contract”.


She was letting us know that while we were sitting there, high on the insights and expansion we felt from being illuminated to the false beliefs that were running our lives, (and having experienced what was actually true for us)…that we would once again, contract.


That as we went back to our regular lives we would inevitably get caught up in false beliefs again (and experience the contracted feeling of them), but we now had the tool of The Work to question those beliefs and see what was actually true for us, and expand once again.


But my mind took that message and did something with it – it made contraction wrong. And it set up a new goal: “never feel contracted again”.


I had experienced over and over that when I was feeling contracted I was under the influence of a misunderstanding, some confused thinking. So surely if I just stayed vigilant enough, I wouldn’t fall under the influence of my confused thinking again.


I mean why couldn’t I get it “right”? Why couldn’t I feel expanded forever?!


So every time I realized I had been caught up in my thinking, it felt like I had made a mistake. Like I had failed.


And every time it would happen, I would vow to never get caught up again. (The mind really loves all or nothing thinking).


But it was so exhausting. It was defeating. And I couldn’t see that the thought “contraction is wrong” was itself confused thinking!


It’s only recently after going through some intense contractions (and believing they were wrong), that I could see the contractions were actually birthing a new understanding in me. An opportunity to accept more of my humanness. The ability to see things from a different angle or wider perspective. A growing compassion for myself and others.


So next time you find yourself in a space after a contraction, notice what arises in you. Is there a deeper awareness? A new understanding? If not, that’s OK (notice if the mind wants to make this a new “thing” too!)


But consider contractions are not a mistake or a failure, but actually a part of the process, a part of living life.


Learn more about Kristina here:



Become Your Own Habit-Free Success Story!

The Little School of Big Change Self-Study Course!

The Little School of Big Change is a program designed to help you overcome anxiety and unwanted habits without needing to rely on willpower or self-discipline.

Learn More

Get The Just A Thought Introduction and First Chapter for Free

Just a Thought: A No-Willpower Approach to End Self-Doubt and Make Peace with your Mind is available in all formats. Download the Introduction and Chapter 1 now!

Get your chapter

Get a Free Student Access Account

Dr. Amy Johnson’s work has helped thousands of people find lasting freedom from unwanted habits and anxiety, and realize deeper meaning and peace of mind. Get access to free resources to help you on your journey by creating a free Student Access account today!