I’ve been thinking about balance and polarity recently – a topic that has stayed with me since I first started tai chi at the age of 16 (just a few years ago *cough*). I realised the other day that a need in us to view certain things as excessively positive might be a strong sign that we are dealing with an excessive negative in another area – we are attempting to find balance.
Projection is a psychological term for a process where we see outside, what we cannot bear to see or feel inside. Perhaps another aspect of this is needing certain things to be positive enough to balance out a negative we can’t deal with.
For example, this might look like needing a certain group of people to be above reproach because we have been associated with a different group that was worse than we could handle. And if we have this expectation it will often set us up for disappointment, because people are only human and good and bad are everywhere.
I touch on this slightly in my chapter on acceptance (in The Art of Coming Home) because in order to be at peace we need to be able to accept positive, negative, joy, pain – the whole experience of life. Not condoning everything – just not fighting against the fact that it does exist.
This is hard because we are primed to seek out the positive, generally-speaking (although we’re also drawn to the dark in different ways – again – seeking balance). So it can be really difficult to accept certain types of negativity depending on our experience and our personality.
For example, let’s say we grew up with very angry parents and now we can’t stand that quality at all. We might see signs of it in others and not be able to stomach it, we might feel triggered or want everyone to be above reproach in that respect. We might also need ourselves to be “opposite-of-angry-people” and that might make us act in a way that is slightly false at times, have terrible boundaries or feel resentful. We may need excessive positivity to balance out the negative we experienced, which we have not accepted or processed.
And processing is tough because even if we’re able to acknowledge everything that happened in our heads, our hearts might still be dragging a sore and painful wound that is not capable of assimilating it at all, or our nervous system may be on a hair trigger that we have not been able to diffuse yet.
So there are some things I’d like to suggest if you recognise this in yourself:
- This is something that has helped you in your life, probably a lot
- Self-protective mechanisms come from a good place even if their effect is not always desirable now
- Where there is dark, there is light
- Where there is light, there is dark
- Finding the positive in a negative situation does not mean condoning bad behaviour or glossing over your feelings and needs
- Just because we carry a wound that is not ready to be completely healed it does not mean we have to let it dictate how we live and relate to others
- Everyone has some version of this
- We all have positive and negative within us
- Polarity is part of life, aiming for 100% positivity is not realistic, limiting ourselves to only expecting the negative is also not realistic
- Whatever we experience, we can be kind to ourselves.
Can you see the places you put the most emphasis on necessary-positivity? Does it at all feel like an expectation carrying the weight of a wound? How can we work through the negative that is pushing us to grasp so hard for the positive, keeping us off-centre?
Perhaps by simply acknowledging that it is.
Seeing and understanding the roots of it.
And the fact that sometimes being with our pain is enough to transform it.
I don’t think it’s possible for us to get away from framing things in terms of positive/ negative – just as the sun rises and sets every day, light and dark are key to orienting us and balancing us in our world. And they are always there.
I can’t even end this without saying what I think would be a positive way to deal with polarity and our wounding. But what we can do is accept that this polarity will continue to play a part in our lives, that we’re both flawed and inherently perfect, there are people in the world that act in “good” and “bad” ways and that positives and negatives are going to keep coming at us – the only thing that matters it that we strive for what we want while accepting the opposite will happen sometimes and try not to take it personally – because this is simply a natural aspect of life.