The Theory of Opposites

two opposite road signs against blue sky and clouds

Willa Chandler-Golden’s father changed the world with his self-help bestseller, Is It Really Your Choice? Why Your Entire Life May Be Out of Your Control. Millions of devoted fans now find solace in his notion that everything happens for a reason. Though Willa isn’t entirely convinced of her father’s theories, she readily admits that the universe has delivered her a solid life: a reliable husband, a fast-paced career. Sure there are hiccups – negative pregnancy tests, embattled siblings – but this is what the universe has brought, and life, if she doesn’t think about it too much, is wonderful.

Then her (evidently not-so-reliable) husband proposes this: A two-month break. Two months to see if they can’t live their lives without each other. And before Willa can sort out destiny and fate and what it all means, she’s axed from her job, her 12 year-old nephew Nicky moves in, her ex-boyfriend finds her on Facebook, and her best friend Vanessa lands a gig writing for Dare You!, the hottest new reality TV show. And then Vanessa lures Willa into dares of her own – dares that run counter to her father’s theories of fate, dares that might change everything…but only if Willa is brave enough to stop listening to the universe and instead aim for the stars…

(Goodreads blurb for Allison Winn Scotch’s The Theory of Opposites.)


Why am I quoting the back cover blurb of a book? Because, quite simply, this book helped me get the words straight in my head to explain squares and trines- and how we deal with each.

Yes. Really. Bear with me.

We’ve spoken a lot about grand trines. They look good, they sound nice, they have people saying things like ‘oh, a grand trine. That’s nice.’ We’ve even talked about how they’re these self contained little triangles of potential brilliance, that all too often resemble three alcoholics in a liquor store helping each other buy another case of wine. The planets are all working in harmony, but in not testing the boundaries, or making themselves uncomfortable, they tend not to reach the promised heights.

Then we have squares.

Squares have people saying things like ‘wow, a lot of squares…that’s tough.’ Or, ‘it’s all right for you, you have a grand trine, I have squares. Life’s easy for you.’ Or, ‘I would have had a great job/ relationship/ be a millionaire by now if it weren’t for these squares.’

The thing is, people with squares, challenge, are more likely to find success than the grand triners. Why? Because they’re uncomfortable, and being uncomfortable pushes you to either stay uncomfortable, or face your fears and find a way out.

Yes. Really. Bear with me.

Getting a trine working is relatively easy. It’s all one element and one polarity so the planets get on. Each has a different modality, so each has a part to play. There’ll be one whinging about how someone needs to do something about this, one going with whatever and one actually thinking about doing whatever needs to be done.

Squares are different.

With squares, the only thing that each planet has in common is their modality- and given that each has completely different motivations, it’s tough getting each to move. It’s like getting to an intersection and finding the one way sign pointing in both directions.

In The Theory of Opposites, Willa is like a grand trine. She’s never made any particular decisions, she’s just always gone with whatever was dished out. Her fate was sealed the minute her father declared that even though she was a girl, and not the boy she was supposed to be, they’d stick with the name William.

As is the case with many grand trines, Willa, although having some setbacks, had always somehow landed on her feet. She had a huge amount of potential that, in coasting through, she never quite delivered on. When life became uncomfortable, she dissolved.

On the other hand, her best friend Vanessa was like a square. She’d had to work hard for everything, deal with obstacles, challenges, and break through to the next level. She dared herself to do so.

When Vanessa dares Willa to be uncomfortable, to dare herself, things begin to change for her- she starts to deliver.

Vanessa encourages Willa to think about what the easiest thing would be to do in any situation, and then do the opposite.

Lightbulb moment.

Working with squares requires discipline. All the time. Squares have the feel of Saturn about them, so it stands to reason that sustained hard work is required.

Essentially you need to look at the sign, house placement and nature of the planets involved and work out what each wants, needs and is motivated by. Easy peasy.

But it’s not.

Often the easiest route is the do nothing route. This usually involves the shadow of each of these planets. For those of us with grand trines, we still do better than ok, but the promise of our trine isn’t delivered. For those without that support, the do nothing route can make life even more uncomfortable, more “unfair”.

The real change, real success happens when instead of doing what you want to do, you do the opposite.

Take my Venus (2nd house, Aries) square Jupiter (5th house, Cancer).

My Venus doesn’t want to wait for her pleasures. My Jupiter wants more, but doesn’t really want to stray too far out into the open to get it. In shadow, this is the ultimate in self-indulgence.

So, I don’t feel like training? That’s ok, stay at home and have a wine instead.

Want to do that now? That’s cool- that’s what credit cards are for.

Saying yes- to everything- is my default position.

Yes, I’ll meet you for lunch even though my word count won’t get done, I’ve had three lunches out already this week and I can’t fit into my fat jeans without causing damage to internal organs.

Yes, I’ll have that extra wine even though I know I should be aiming for an alcohol free day.

Yes, I’ll skip training even though I’m off to Bali with hubby in May and need to fit into swimmers, but hey, I can go hard core for a few weeks and get there.

Get the idea?

What would happen if I did the opposite to what I wanted? The opposite to easy? What would happen if I said no?

Successful people with squares do this automatically….but I’m a grand triner…I’m used to the easy way out. But that way isn’t getting me to where I want to be.

So, I’m experimenting with the theory of opposites.

I’ll let you know how it goes….