The ingredients of both darkness and light are equally present in all of us,…The madness of this planet is largely a result of the human being’s difficulty in coming to virtuous balance with himself. Elizabeth Gilbert
We’re often advised to ensure work-life balance. This thought-provoking post by Jacquie Garton-Smith addresses that very subject and contains useful suggestions to help you juggle your priorities in an ever-demanding world.
Outer balance is of less concern to me here, though, than inner balance, which for me is essential, not least because I believe in the maxim As Within, So Without. If our outer world is truly a reflection of our inner world, then it stands to reason that a balanced psyche contributes to a balanced perspective. Maybe it has to be experienced to be believed, but how you are on the inside can definitely affect what you perceive on the outside, as I’ve discovered to both my cost and my benefit.
Ani DiFranco has said: Patriarchy is a fundamental imbalance underlying society. And it’s one we rarely address because it’s so universal. But as I get older, I see that peace is a product of balance.
I can see her point. Women are still grossly under-represented in the political and decision-making spheres; however patriarchy isn’t the only cause of inequality in 21st Century civilisation.
What if the injustices, disparities and prejudices we witness daily all over the world – homelessness, poverty, war etc. – are a reflection of imbalances repressed within the collective unconscious of humanity?
What if, rather than pointing fingers of blame at specific groups who we consider responsible for all that we perceive as wrong in the world, we all turn our attention towards our own thoughts, beliefs and feelings, becoming aware of what we need to attend to within ourselves in order to create a more harmonious existence for everyone?
To achieve this we need also to practice acceptance of the polarities existing within our own psyches, to make peace with what Jung described as our shadow – those unconscious parts of our personality that our neurotic/wounded/inflated egos are reluctant to own because, say, we don’t wish to appear weak in the eyes of ourselves or others.
An example: in one episode of Desperate Fishwives… , Dawn, was at Ampika’s birthday party, a masked ball. (Their relationship epitomises the saying: With friends like these who needs enemies?) Ampika gave all of her ‘friends’ masks which she claimed reflected their personalities; to Dawn she handed a grotesque-looking devil mask and Dawn was distinctly under-impressed. In a scene later on in the programme, Dawn fought back the tears as she said to her husband something along the lines of, ‘I don’t want to appear weak. I’m not weak.’
Dawn is a self-professed ‘control freak’ which explains her need to appear strong. However, sadness is a natural response to what amounted to an attempt by Ampika to humiliate her; Dawn’s wellbeing would have been better served had she vented her sadness and simply cried. Tears shed as a result of painful emotions have been found to contain toxins. If we suppress those tears, we’re holding on to those toxins, which are then presumably deposited in the body; that can’t be healthy. I can’t be the only one who’s felt better after ‘a good cry’.
Does Dawn have to feel in control, I wonder, because she’s psychologically out of balance, albeit subliminally? I’m no stranger myself to that state of being; trauma can do that to the human psyche. Trying to address an unconscious imbalance by attempting to exert power over others, or outer circumstances that are beyond our jurisdiction is like trying to eat soup with a fork.
A wise, respected teacher of mine said: Nobody’s all good, and nobody’s all bad. We all contain both light and dark; insisting otherwise is suggestive of an ego that needs to evolve. Doing the work that helps you to reconcile your inner conflict, to integrate the traits you reject in yourself, is empowering and brings you to a state of harmony.
Committing to Essential Principles, Practices and Panaceas can gradually restore your equilibrium and equip you with resilience to rebalance yourself quickly whenever you find yourself overwhelmed by the events of your life.
If sufficient numbers of people attain inner peace, isn’t it possible that it could ripple out to the wider environment? It has to be worth a try.