I’ve been becoming more conscious of the fact that I organize much of my thinking along the lines of yin and yang and the concept of balancing duality. As I explore my own developing concept of counseling, human nature, etc., I find myself continuously walking the line “between.”
When I cringe at positive psychology, it’s not because I think it’s wrong or ineffective to focus on resiliency, what’s going well, strengths, etc.
People need positive goals towards which to work. Whether in personal growth, activism, or career development, if all one ever does is fight against what isn’t desired, burnout is inevitable. There will always be more to fight against, to change, to reject.
Merely pushing away from what isn’t wanted leaves a person directionless, often flying from one unwanted to another without direction or purpose.
Thus, defining where one wants to end up is essential. Have uplifting goals is necessary for renewing energy and fostering hope.
That being said, I find it equally unhealthy to eschew the negative. Resiliency doesn’t exist as a concept without its shadow side. Personal growth is more often the result of grappling with the shit life throws out.
And of course, ignoring the shadow doesn’t make them go away. More often than not, suppressing the shadow forces it to fester and grow stronger. Eventually it will demand attention one way or another.
So often, positive and negative seem to be pitted against each other, as though one has to win over the other, but such a dichotomy always leaves something lacking.
The yin needs the yang in order to be complete.
Of course, I’ve heard the yin yang symbol explained in terms of embattlement—that the dark and light are warring against each other, with the implication that one or the other wants to win. However, I find it far more intriguing to consider that the light and dark battle each other in an attempt to achieve balance.
Rather than the symbol being a representation of some cosmic arm-wrestling match, I think of it as a cosmic acrobatic performance. The resistance of each helps the other.