Resistance Training for the Mind

The greater the tension, the greater is the potential. Great energy springs from a correspondingly great tension of opposites ~ Carl Jung


When you want to get your body in shape, you run, you do resistance and strength training and you get better, faster, smaller, firmer, more fit. Feel the burn, it’s good for you.

What I call resistance training for the mind is what Carl Jung calls Holding the TENSION of the Opposites.

When I first started trying to figure out who I am and what I want to do in this life, someone suggested I hold the tension of the opposites.

I didn’t quite get the meaning, until I got the meaning.

If you are constantly doing, seeing, going, deciding, choosing  without pausing –
you likely aren’t doing much of anything.

If you aren’t aware of what your unconscious (shadow) is doing – you may be sabotaging yourself when you jump to a decision without spending some time with yourself before you jump. Sometimes, you may not have that luxury – burning building, jump out window – but many other times we do have the luxury and we don’t pause, we decide based on our patterns – our history. If we become aware of what is underneath our decision (shadow) we can see things through a clear lens – what our choices are and why we are making them – this sometimes leads to creating a new pattern for yourself, which is more meaningful.

If you choose too soon, you may make a decision out of desperation and not out of consciousness.

A few weeks ago, I had two potential career opportunities on the table, both beckoning and calling me, for different reasons. I had to decide which one to take and soon. Pausing and thinking was maddening, make the choice already! I pulled out my manifesto and my values to think about what’s important to me for the future.  Holding the tension of the opposites, this and that, the yes and the no – I got to a point just sitting, not doing, not thinking – my legs began tingle, tears fell for no reason, and soon the reason became clear – all my life, most times unconsciously – I’ve made choices that drop me into chaos and craziness – because it’s what feels comfortable.

That’s not right for me anymore and not the choice I want to consciously make.

It was instant and clear what was inline with my values and what wasn’t – and saying no to what isn’t inline with my values is clearly what I want to do. But – why was I resisting it?  Because change is hard and what feels comfortable is easy.

I paused some more and reminded myself that re-imagining and reinventing myself takes something different happening, choosing a new pattern.

If you keep ending up in the same place, with the same issues, with the same thoughts, holding the tension of the opposites when you make your next decision, might be a way to move past those things and choose something in a new way.

This is resistance training for the brain. Feel the burn.

I still find it challenging, but the more I do it, the better I get at it and the better choices I make.

Where can you hold the tension of the opposites and resistance train your mind?

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