Searching images for this post, I came across:
It made me pause since I’ve been learning about Chi & the symbol most-associated with it: the yin-yang.
The first thing I learned studying Chi is to have the view that everything, good and bad, is part of life. The yin-yang symbolizes the universe and everything, good and bad, in it. And they are exactly-equal.
We think of light and dark as opposite and contradictory, but this particular philosophy considers them interconnected and complementary. They give rise to each other. You can’t have one without the other.
One force dominates, then is replaced by the opposing force. This activity continues constantly and cyclically over time. From the darkness, light. From the light, dark. Life and death. Night and day.
It’s natural to experience ups and downs. Life is ups and downs. But the darkness within you doesn’t have to bring down your entire life.
“You do good to counteract bad” – that’s a common thought. Atonement. Make up for the bad by doing good. Considering the gif and how one rises after the other, this approach seems dubious.
Good and bad are constant and find balance. The bad doesn’t just go away because a few good deeds get done. Reminds me of Newton’s Third Law of Motion:
For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
This means that for every force there is a reaction force that is equal in size, but opposite in direction. It’s why rockets fly:
So, how does that apply to mental mastery and “hacking” the system to make our darkness work for us? Have you ever considered trolling yourself?
If every force causes an equal force in the opposite direction, what can our darkness do to create positive gain? Kind of like in math: negative times negative equals positive.
Imagine a number line on which you walk. Multiplying a#*b# means taking a# steps, each of b# size. Negative steps require you to face the negative end of the line before you start walking. Negative step sizes are backward (i.e., heel first) steps. So, -a#*-b# means to stand on zero, face in the negative direction, and then take a# backward steps, each of size b#.
-4*-3=12… you stood on zero, faced negative, then walked backward (into positive) four steps that were three feet long each. [Just because feet are what I’m accustomed to.]
Seems like we first have to face the darkness. Can’t pretend like it’s not there; that’s delusional. Can’t be afraid of it; that assumes we’re not the masters of our own minds.
So, we face the bad. Accept that it’s part of life, part of each of us.
I call mine The Kraken. And she’s a biiiiiitch.
I used to be afraid of The Kraken. She’s a wild card. I would get in A TON of trouble when she raged. She’s not socially acceptable. I was brought up to squash down The Kraken, no matter what. She doesn’t abide bullshit, and doesn’t have much grace about it.
The Kraken used to destroy everything in her path, myself included. She’s critical, a perfectionist, unconcerned about feelings. She’s quick to act and steadfast in slaking her appetite for egomaniacal gratification. She goes zero to 60 in the blink of an eye with no concern for anyone left behind or in the way. And it didn’t help that I let her be other peoples’ problem.
The Kraken needed a job if I was going to do anything worthwhile in my life. Heck, even a hobby would have suited her well.
The Kraken made me a great athlete. Harnessing THAT aspect took me places. She’s why I raced through multiplication tests and would tear across the classroom to turn them in. The beast in me got results. She’s what makes me great at identifying shortcomings, but terrible at constructively pointing them out.
The Kraken needs an outlet.
I took her to law school because a big wound she protected fiercely was from perceiving quite a bit of injustice. I thought I’d combat bad with good.
I tried a bunch of other stuff… working in mediation, practicing meditation, avoidance, confrontation, shoving myself down (inevitably into depression), putting on a fake-ass positive front… nothing worked.
Even though I was engaging in all kinds of activities alleged to help, I couldn’t shake a deep sense of dissatisfaction. Part of me felt withered. So I tried one final thing that seemed ridiculous: acceptance.
I sat down one day and made a list of my Pros and Cons, AKA: Things I Was Praised For and Things I Was Punished For. Funny… Funny at someone’s expense… Passionate… Hot-tempered… Joyful… opposite-of-joy-but-with-the-same-intensity… Telling the truth… Telling the truth when it’s not very popular… Loves winning… Loves winning… Questioning everything… Questioning everything… I guess you could also call the list: Things People Like vs. Things People Don’t Like So I Got Scared Of Doing Them.
But, once I became aware of the “Cons” and their results, I could scheme.
The “darkness” could work in my favor. Use the defiance against bad influences or total horse-crap. Unleash The Kraken on dishonesty. See what happens when unbridled enthusiasm is directed towards virtuous ends.
Now, I imagine The Kraken standing around the water cooler, pantsuited up, ready to go to WERK. She shines in the face of deceit, prejudice, and hesitancy. I give her Post-Its so she can write down all her ideas and dreams. Because the Kraken wants to excel. She just sucks at going about it.
And I had to realize what was up. I had to take myself out of what other people think, what I think about what other people think, and my own ego. And I had to set everything in positive motion.
That process will look different for everyone. Maybe your mental monsters look like people from your past, or four-headed dogs, or you-as-a-creepy-doll… that’s only for you to know.
Everything, good and bad, is part of life. We decide what to do with all of it. That’s the best part of becoming more conscious of our true selves, our full selves, and our ultimate ability to master the trajectory of our lives: We can make it all work for us.