The Tension Between My Conscious Mind and My Unconscious Mind, or The Law of Opposites

According to the law of opposites:

Wherever there is light, there is dark

Wherever you see male there is always female

Wherever there is a yes there is a no

Wherever there is a liberal there is a conservative

Whenever there is a particle there is an anti-particle

The universe maintains its balance by the tension that is created between the opposites in nature.

That same law applies to our personalities. There are opposite forces pressing up against one another in our minds.

For example, one time in my life I was obsessed with obtaining a higher level of hierarchical position in my religious order. When the time came to put my best foot forward to obtain this higher position, it was as though I started undermining my own efforts. For example, I was invited to a private cafeteria where the top leaders of the order ate lunch. To make the best impression, it was absolutely imperative I dress appropriately, namely, wearing a dark suit, white shirt and conservative tie. I knew this, yet for some strange reason I came dressed in a light suit, a colored shirt and a bright tie. Why did I commit such an obvious error? I didn’t even notice this when I was getting dressed that morning. As the saying goes, (correctly so in psychological terms) it completely slipped my mind. COMPLETELY.

According to Jungian Psychology, or the psychology of opposites, my unconscious mind blocked my conscious mind without me being aware of it. In other words, my unconscious mind intervened in the workings of my conscious mind to the point of doing the very opposite of what I was aware I should do and was required to do. To complete the bizarre experience, it was not until after the lunch I realized I had dressed inappropriately for the occasion. My reaction was total bafflement: “What did I just do?”

Now if I want to understand what really happened, according to the law of opposites, I should look at a series of opposites to see which pair fits my situation.

For example, was it smart vs dumb that caused my weird behavior? Was I smart enough to get to that point in my life, but too dumb to carry it to the finish line and consummate the deal?

Or, was it the tension of contentment versus discontentment at conflict within me ? Was my conscious mind so convinced that happiness was based on making that one last leap in position, while my unconscious mind intervened and caused a block, because it knew deep down in my psyche I would not be as happy as I thought I would be had I attained that level?

I went through other pairings ( accordingly, there are dozens of possible pairings when it comes to your personality), but the one I landed on that seemed to click was the contentment versus discontentment pairing.

As I analyzed my situation, I concluded that the most satisfied I had ever felt in life was being in business, making a good amount of money, and living a nice lifestyle. Living an ecclesiastical life full time would prohibit that. Once I admitted this, I felt a balance ( or harmony) come about in my personal life. The tension between ecclesiastical attainment versus worldly business and its rewards softened, and a balance was struck sufficient to calm the inner turmoil I was experiencing. In a word, I felt happy.

But then, new pairings of opposites arose. Like, how much money do I have to make in order to maintain that balance? There was one side of me that felt that counting and continuing to make lots of money had to be the end game, while there was a counter feeling emerging that was forcing the idea on me that I was content at a certain level of affluence that allowed me to not have to measure the size of my home to ever bigger homes. Once I gave voice to that notion, I reached another balancing point. There was a certain level of affluence that satisfied me, beyond which increasing satisfaction did not take place. With the help of my wife, we settled in a neighborhood that fit my emotional makeup nicely.

After that, another series of pairings of opposites arose. But let’s end here.

The moral of this story is that the fundamental building block of all that we experience is made up of pairs of opposites that have to be worked out for a certain equilibrium to be reached, and that in a lifetime of living there is no end to the pairs of opposites that emerge.

The victory comes in working at balancing the tension.

Last, those pairings of opposites differ slightly according to each individual’s make-up. Hence, the search for self discovery is unique to each individual. No two individuals are exactly the same, just like no two sets of fingerprints are the same. Each individual’s life has meaning unto itself.