DR JOHN DEMARTINI - Updated 8 months ago
Imagine, if you will, that someone presents you with a magnet, something you likely know from physics comprises both a positive pole and a negative pole. They then offer you a billion dollars to cut the magnet in half and present with just the one-sided positive pole.
Regardless of how many times you try, how many options you try, and how fast you try, if you cut a magnet in half, you will simply end up with two magnets.
In other words, it is a futile exercise because there is no known way to separate a positive pole from a negative pole in order to end up with a one-sided magnet.
The unlikelihood of creating a one-sided magnet is a powerful analogy for how it is similarly futile to create a one-sided individual, one-sided relationship, and a one-sided life.
Yet, the majority of individuals spend their lives trying to achieve the unachievable, by expecting others to be one sided (nice never mean, supportive never challenging) and they also expect the same of themselves as they try to rid themselves of traits they perceive to be “negative” and keep only those they perceive as being “positive”.
It is also something that is often encouraged in children from early on – be kind not cruel, generous not stingy, peaceful not wrathful, and giving not greedy.
However, same as the magnet, you have both sides. No matter how hard you try to get rid of half of yourself, you can’t, you have both polarities no matter what you do.
The question you also want to ask yourself is, how are you going to love yourself if you're trying to get rid of half of yourself? How can you be loved for the magnificence of your true authentic self if you’re striving to get rid of half of that magnificence?
The pursuit for one-sidedness is futile
The Buddha says the desire for that which is unobtainable (the one side) and the desire to avoid that which is unavoidable (the other side) is the source of human suffering.
Yet, society continually tries to provide mass solutions to help you become one-sided, instead of helping you realize the true perfection of the whole of who you are so you can embrace both sides.
The idea of being one-sided is often reflected in the language individuals use. Phrases such as, “I would NEVER do that,” and “I’m ALWAYS this way,” are clearly inaccurate when you look at what all of our lives demonstrate.
For example, if I was to come up to you and say, “You're always nice, never mean. Always kind, never cruel. Always generous, never stingy. Always giving, never taking. Always considerate, never inconsiderate. Always peaceful, never wrathful. Always positive, never negative,” your intuition would let you know this was untrue and that you have another side to you.
If I said, “You're always mean, never nice. Always cruel, never kind. Always negative, never positive. Always wrathful, never peaceful. Always stingy, never generous. Always taking, never giving. Always inconsiderate, never considerate,” your intuition would once again remind you of your other side.
However, if I said, “Sometimes you're nice, sometimes you're mean. Sometimes you're kind, sometimes you're cruel. Sometimes you're positive, sometimes you're negative. Sometimes you’re peaceful, sometimes wrathful,” your intuition would immediately say with certainty that it is true.
You will only have certainty when you authentically embrace both sides of your own being.
- Trying to get rid of half of yourself and be one-sided is futile.
- Expecting someone else to be one-sided is futile.
- Expecting the world to be one-sided and not both-sided is also futile.
Anytime you have an expectation of a one-sided event, you create a fantasy, unrealistic expectation and delusion you're going to get a one-sided magnet.
In this case you will likely experience depression, frustration, aggravation, and futility. These are symptoms and feedback to try to wake you up and associate pain with your fantasy pleasure.
In fact, the more you expect to achieve a one-sided world, the more likely you’ll experience the other side is to wake you up to the realization of both sides of life.
The more you try to avoid it, the more likely it is to occur.
The more you're addicted to the one side and try to be “subdicted” from the other side, the more likely it is for the other side to follow you. Jung called it the “shadow” following you around as you try to chase the light.
There’s also an old proverb that says “What you resist persists” – in other words, what you try to run away from, you run into; and what you try to avoid shadows you and follows you.
As such, the more you say, “I would never do that,” the more likely it is to come upon you and the more likely you are to attract an event in your life to force you to get that repression to the surface.
How are you going to love yourself if you're trying to get rid of half of yourself?
An interesting fact – I’ve gone through the Oxford dictionary, and I found 4,628 different traits. In doing so, I discovered that I have each and every one of those human traits, actions, or inactions. I am at times nice and mean, kind and cruel, giving and taking, generous and stingy, honest and dishonest, deceptive and forthright, and many more.
If I look at my life, I’ve done every single one of them in different moments in my life. At times, I didn’t want to acknowledge that I own traits I originally perceived as being “negative”. However, when I looked, I couldn’t deny the evidence of displaying those traits in my life.
So, having gone through all 4,628 traits in detail, I discovered that I had all of them. Nothing was missing in me. Nothing that I saw in another human being was missing in me.
I also studied classical writings dating all the way to the Sumerians, Egyptians and Ancient Greeks and found written evidence of the same behaviors taking place 3,000 years ago. I realized that if these behaviors did not serve human beings, they would have become extinct. It is therefore most likely that all human traits serve human beings.
As such, I went a step further.
- The traits I perceived as being terrible, I looked for upsides to.
- And the traits I thought I admired, I looked for the downsides to.
In other words, I leveled the playing field.
What happened is that instead of having individuals push my buttons, I tended not to react to their actions or inactions because I thought, “Who am I to judge them when my life shows evidence of displaying that same trait?”
I also tended not to become infatuated with individuals by being conscious of their upsides and unconscious of their downsides, or resentful of individuals by being conscious of their downsides and unconscious of their upsides. Instead, I was able to perceive others in a more neutral, balanced and objective way by finding downsides to their upsides and upsides to their downsides.
The result was that the external world had less impact on me. Instead, I was more able to master my life by acknowledging and embracing both sides of myself, others, and life.
Mastering and balancing my perceptions allowed me to begin mastering and balancing my life.
I rarely write an article or do a presentation without talking about values.
Every individual has a unique set of values and priorities in life. When you live in accordance to your highest values, your blood, glucose and oxygen go into the medial prefrontal cortex of your forebrain, thereby activating your executive center.
Your executive center is more objective and helps you see both sides, thereby helping you become more neutral by mitigating risks, calming down fantasies, centering yourself and not reacting, and having more equanimity within yourself and equity between you and others.
However, when you attempt to live by your lower values, through attempting to inject the values of others, and try to be somebody you're not, the blood, glucose, and oxygen goes into your subcortical region of your brain and activates your more impulsive and instinctive amygdala.
It is in the amygdala that you are likely to react without thinking, avoid pain and seek pleasure, and enter survival mode instead of thrival mode. As such, you will likely try to avoid predator (challenge) and seek prey (ease), avoid negatives and seek positives, and look for a one-sided life instead of objectively embracing both sides.
The amygdala is also subjectively biased, as opposed to the executive center that is objective.
As such, decisions made down in your amygdala tend to be highly polarized into all positive and no negative (prey) or all negative and no positive (predator).
While this is highly effective in the wild when an instant boost of adrenaline towards prey can mean food and away from predator can mean survival, it is not as effective when trying to live a life of mastery, self-governance, and leadership.
It is also when in your amygdala that you tend to use imperative language such as, “I never” and “they always”.
When I present my signature seminar program the Breakthrough Experience, I often hear these exaggerated labels in relation to emotional baggage that individuals have carried for years. Comments such as, “My mother was never there for me,” and “My father was always aggressive” reflect subjectively-biased thinking that is very black and white.
As such, I take individuals through a cognitive process called the Demartini Method to help them breakthrough the exaggerated labels they have of others, because as long as you have a false label on other individuals and false label on yourself, you’re not likely to be fully present, centered, and authentic with them. More importantly, you’re unlikely to feel grateful for them and yourself when you’re judging them and yourself.
I'm a firm believer that everything that's going on in your physiology, all your symptoms of your body, are trying to get you to be authentic and whole. Every symptom in your psychology is trying to get you to be whole. Everything in your sociology in terms of supporters and challengers are feedback systems to get you to be whole.
As such, when you get cocky, you tend to attract criticism to bring you down, and when you feel down, you tend to attract supporters to lift you up to get you back into equilibrium where you can embrace both sides of yourself.
So, I'm not here to teach you how to get rid of half of yourself. I'm not here to try to make you one sided. I'm not here to teach you positive thinking.
You need positive thinking if you're down, you need negative thinking if you're up, and you need balanced thinking if you want to master your life.
How are you going to have a balanced physiology if you don't have a balanced mind?
How are you going to have balanced relationships if you don’t have a balanced mind?
How are you going to have a balanced bank account if you don't have a balanced mind?
I like to use the practice of buying on credit as an example. Banks will loan you money by giving you access to a credit card. As such, you can shop and enjoy all the pleasure of retail therapy. 30 days later, you then experience the pain of paying a bill.
Buying on credit is a clever way of helping consumers separate pain and pleasure, which makes them far more likely to activate your amygdala and impulsively overspend so they can have instant gratification.
However, should you immediately pay for your purchases in cash, you simultaneously experience the pain of payment and the pleasure of purchasing. As such, you are more likely to think more rationally
about your purchase instead of reacting impulsively.
In other words, when you try to separate the pairs of opposites, you are most likely to experience impulsive amygdala behavior and perceive that you can get a pleasure without a pain. However, the second you put the pain and the pleasure together and put the pairs of opposite together, you're most likely to become more rational and objective and ask, “Is this truly a priority?”
The moment you see both sides and become present with both sides, you activate your executive center and experience objectivity, appreciation, love, inspiration, gratitude, and mastery.
So, the next time you find yourself saying, “I never” or “they always”, it is wise to bring yourself back into balance by looking at both sides.
The words, “always” and “never” are red flags for one-sided thinking, and valuable feedback to guide you back to authenticity.
To sum up:
The unlikelihood of creating a one-sided magnet is a powerful analogy for how it is similarly futile to create a one-sided individual, one-sided relationship, and one-sided life.
The pursuit of one-sidedness is futile.
The more you try to avoid one side, the more likely it is to occur.
Anytime you infatuate with a trait, the opposite comes in to balance it. For example, if you're addicted to protection, you'll attract aggression. If you're addicted to peace, you'll attract the warrior. If you're addicted to order, you'll attract chaos. If you're addicted to freedom, you'll attract constraint.
Nature demonstrates pairs of opposites, so anytime you try to get a one-sided world, you're automatically going to get feedback that it doesn't exist. In the same way, as long as you're addicted to fantasy, your life will be a nightmare. As long as you're addicted to elation, you'll feel depressed because depression is a comparison of your current reality to a fantasy you're addicted to.
The magnificence of the way life truly is, is far greater than the fantasies you'll impose on it.
So when you say, “I would never do something like that”, it is wise to take a look at where you're already doing it because you possess all the traits.
When you own all your traits, the world outside you doesn't run your life.
When you embrace all parts of yourself and love all parts, it's easy for other individuals to do the same.
When you embrace other individuals for having both sides, you’ll find it easier to be realistic about your expectations on them.
If you would love to master your life, it is wise to embrace both sides of yourself, others, and life.
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