DR JOHN DEMARTINI - Updated 4 months ago
I often speak about how it is futile to create a one-sided individual, one-sided relationship, one-sided society, or one-sided life.
Yet, most individuals spend their lives trying to achieve the unachievable by expecting others and themselves to be one-sided (kind never cruel, nice never mean, supportive never challenging). In this way, they try to rid themselves of traits they perceive to be “negative” and develop or keep only those they perceive as being “positive”.
I believe this to be a futile exercise. In the same way that cutting a magnet in half so you can have just the positive without the negative is impossible, so too it is impossible to rid yourself of the parts of you that you or someone else perceives to be “bad” or negative.
Here is something to think about: you have each of the many human traits. Nothing is missing in you.
An interesting fact – 38 years ago, I went through the Oxford English dictionary and found 4,628 different human behavioral traits. In doing so, I discovered that I displayed or demonstrated each 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 – I’m all of them.
At the time, I didn’t want to acknowledge that I displayed or demonstrated certain traits that I perceived as being “negative”.
However, after deep and honest reflection, I couldn’t deny the evidence of displaying or demonstrating those traits in my life. I was initially just too proud or too humble to admit that what I saw in others was also 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.
This realization completely transformed the way I looked at human behavior and human traits both in my own life and in the lives of others.
When I realized that I display or demonstrate all the traits, I began questioning, “Well who am I to judge (infatuate with or resent) that individual if I do the same thing I like or dislike in them?” and “Why am I admiring or infatuating with or resenting and despising that individual when I possess those same traits that I admire or despise in them?”
The result was significant because it calmed down my reactions to others because I realized that I, too, display the same traits I was reacting to in others. It didn’t eliminate my reactions to them, but it did give me some reflective awareness that allowed me to pause and think with my executive function before responding.
If the pursuit of a one-sided life, society, relationship, or individual is FUTILE, why are many people brought up to think that it is possible?
Many parents, preachers and teachers try to encourage others to live a one-sided life – which results in a moral hypocrisy.
For example, they tell children to be “good” - positive never negative, kind never mean, and giving never taking. Yet minutes or hours later, many of those same adults display the exact traits they have told children not to display. It’s an inevitable hypocrisy.
The result is a large majority of children growing up to believe that there are parts of them that are “wrong” that they need to try to get rid of.
When it comes to judging personalities, it can cause a split in your personality and result in you feeling proud or shamed.
- When you're proud, you exaggerate yourself and are not being truly authentic.
- When you’re shamed, you minimize yourself and are not being truly authentic.
These two moral outcomes can very often be the very thing that keeps you from being authentic.
What if you found out that every trait in a human being is part of our journey?
You may label many of them as being “bad”, yet they’re still with us. It is therefore most likely that all human traits serve human beings.
Pause and Ponder:
- What if owning every trait is part of the journey to master your life?
- What if you don’t need to get rid of any part of yourself to love yourself?
- What if all the traits, at times, have a place?
- What if knowing when to use each of the traits is wisdom?
Owning all the traits is something I focus on during the Breakthrough Experience program. I ask people to identify a trait they deeply admire in someone and look for DOWNSIDES; and take a trait they despise or resent in others and look for UPSIDES.
This can be initially challenging for people who are used to rigidly identifying traits and behaviors as “good” or “bad”, “positive” or “negative”.
For example, your perception that your boss is confident in meetings (a perceived upside) can be balanced by looking for a downside, perhaps that she doesn’t give you an opportunity to voice your opinion or independently express and creatively think.
Your perception that your partner is insecure in social settings (a perceived downside) can be balanced by looking for an upside, that he doesn’t dominate the conversation or your attention thereby giving you the opportunity to engage with others,
I've taken well over a hundred thousand people through that process during the Breakthrough Experience and for every positive or upside perceived, the attendees find a negative or downside. When they start with a negative or downside they find a positive or upside.
When you can see both sides, you're more likely to be neutral and more objective instead of subjectively biased, rigidly opinionated and reactive.
Wilhelm Wundt, a psychologist in the 1890s said that when you see SEQUENTIAL contrast, positives without negatives, or negatives without positives, you don't have full awareness.
However, when you see SIMULTANEOUS contrast, a simultaneous awareness of both sides, you have full awareness and are mindful.
For example, think of a time when you may have been infatuated with someone. At the time, you likely thought they were all upsides and “good” and were blind to or unconscious of any of their downsides. As such, you were missing information.
It’s the same with someone you may have resented. As such, you were likely conscious of their downsides and unconscious of their upsides. You may have even thought they were all “bad”. This too is missing information.
In both cases, your intuition was likely trying to whisper to you any downsides to perceived upsides and perceived upsides to any downsides so you could see both sides. Your intuition is attempting to help you become fully conscious of both sides simultaneously.
Seeing both sides, simultaneous contrast, allows you to be balanced and objective. It also sets you free or unattached from the traits you infatuate with or resent, because they no longer occupy space and time in your mind.
Once you see both sides, you're more poised, present and purposeful.
You’ll also tend to see the hidden order in what is happening, and to extract the meaning out of experiences.
By becoming aware that all behavior involves a pair of opposites, you can embrace others for their wholeness and be grateful for their presence in your life, instead of labeling them as being “good” or “bad” and impulsively seeking them or instinctively avoiding them.
There is nothing that is universally or ultimately good or bad in life - it’s just an event.
I'd rather see life as specific events and then do the work to extract both sides from it so I can see it for what it is, what is actually there.
As such, I can run my life from the inside instead of having the outside world run me because I am impulsively attracted to or instinctively avoiding some people and situations.
I am certain that you have inside you the capacity to ask quality questions to help you:
- Become consciously aware of what you've been unconscious of;
- See both sides of an event;
- Take the traits that you've been judging as positive or negative and instead see both sides.
In this way, you tend not to perceive those traits as being positive or negative, but instead essential components of your being and part of what makes you whole.
As a result, you can stop making yourself feel proud, shamed and bipolarized, and allow yourself to love yourself for both sides of who you authentically are.
Once you fully grasp that there is a benefit to both sides of you, including the behaviors or traits you once perceived to be “bad” or “wrong”, you liberate yourself from the illusion of one-sidedness and the potential moral hypocrisies.
You can also love yourself more fully because you are able to love all the parts of yourself instead of trying to get rid of half of yourself.
It extends to others in your life too – how can you truly and fully love someone else if you’re trying to get rid of half of them?
This is one of the many tools I teach you in the Breakthrough Experience – to become fully conscious of both sides of yourself, events, and other people.
I’m not interested in programs that encourage you to try to be one-sided and seek the fantasy of a one-sided individual, relationship or life. Although it may be the opium to the masses, it’s futile.
Instead, I am inspired to help liberate you from years of self-judgment, self-depreciation, fantasies, phobias, and anxieties so you can have more resilience, adaptability, wellness, vitality, inspiration and self-love.
I am so inspired by this topic because my life transformed 38 years ago when I realized I own all the traits, both negative and positive, that I perceive in others.
You don't need to get rid of any part of yourself to be fully loved for who you are.
To Sum Up:
- Each of the many human traits serve, or they would go extinct in human behavior.
- As such, it is not about getting rid of or trying to gain a trait, action, or inaction. You already have all of them – you have all the traits. You may just be unconscious of them or think you need to get rid of half them because you were taught to perceive them as being negative, or “bad”.
- As I often say, how are you going to love yourself if you’re trying to get rid of half of you?
- It’s wiser to go in there and own the traits.
- The more traits, actions, or inactions you can own within yourself, the less likely the world around you can push your buttons and initiate ungoverned or extreme emotional reactions. When you are whole you are more objective and authentic and naturally express sustainable fair exchange with others.
- When you’re more governed, you’ll tend to see your experiences ‘on the way’ more than ‘in the way’ and be more grateful.
- The people around you come into your life to point out what you haven’t loved and owned inside yourself. In doing so, they give you an opportunity to liberate yourself by asking quality questions:
- What do I perceive in them? Where do I do that?
- If you see so-called ‘negative’ traits, ask, “What’s the benefit to me?”
- If you see so-called ‘positive’ traits, ask, “What’s the drawback to me?”
- I urge you to embrace all parts of yourself and others, understanding that magnificence is made up of every aspect of your being.
- If you would love to empower your life, no longer be a victim of your history, learn to become a master of your destiny, and expand your awareness and potential to see the magnificent pairs of opposites that are present, then I would love to help you with that in my next Breakthrough Experience program.
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