The tension of opposites

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Human beings are fabulous at creating false dichotomies and seeing opposites wherever we find contrast. It is perhaps due to our dual-nature. We are creatures with two eyes, two hands, two brain hemispheres. We are deeply attached to constructed dualities like ‘good and evil’, ‘nature vs nurture’, ‘night and day’, none of which are neccessarily opposites, or even mutually exclusive.

Jung’s conception of the tension of opposites fits with this framing, but it adds more depth to the pattern of dichotomy.

In a state of tension it can feel as if we are metaphorically pulling at one and if a rope. The other end may be held by someone with whom we disagree, whom we are fighting, or want different outcomes from a given situation. Alternately it may be a tension with nature, fate or a different kind of external thing. It could also be predominantly a tension of an inner kind where we are struggling against an parts of self.

Natal chart aspects, particularly squares and oppositions, tend to reflect the tension patterns we carry, that we then carry through into the external world.

Jung’s reflection on the tension of opposites illuminated that if we hold a tension long enough a ‘third way’ will emerge. This is an interesting personal practice when one feels deadlocked in a struggle, going round in circles, to quietly hold one’s ground and wait, patiently. If we stop struggling against the other, we change the dynamic.

Another way to change the dynamic, if possible is to let go the rope. This is particularly useful in personal struggles with another person that are destructive. It allows space to set healthy boundaries, however this may occur. It may mean stepping back and letting go, it may mean a break of contact, and even a stop to talking about andthinking about the other when ever awareness allows.

The change in behavior and perception works as a disruption to the dynamic, creating space to breathe and greater psychological freedom.images (1)

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