Not long ago, someone used the phrase “hold the tension between….” This concept has been teaching me ever since. In the mental health world, you will hear the idea of balance almost ad nauseam. Now, I will say, balance is, at times, a good idea….something in the middle might be a better choice than two extremes. I don’t want to discount that idea. However, I like the image that comes to mind when I think about holding the tension between two opposites. Instead of finding a middle place….a balance….I am consciously aware of the two opposites and trying to hold them both at the same time.
If you aren’t aware, life is full of paradoxes. As a therapist, I am working with “problems in the mind” but then the way to address and heal said problems is “with the mind.” You have problems with your thinking, so we use our thinking to change our thinking. To hold the tension in this case, we need to be aware of the problematic thinking while creating thoughts to counter.
When we push against something, the more it pushes back. What we resists, persists. Go to far to the other side of the extreme, the further back we rebound, These sound like witty quips. The ideas are really worth digging into.
I really like the idea of holding the two concepts at the same time. While the middle, neutral stance….balance….may be helpful in some situations, I think holding both sides in many situations keeps us from denying parts of ourselves. Embrace the whole person….our “big S Self”….capital S Self. Our tendency may be to move to “the other side” and deny/reject the other.
What are you holding the tension of in your life right now? On the one hand, I need to manage my time better….and on the other hand, I need to relax and enjoy having no time constraints. On the one hand, I need to be accepting and safe for others to share their truths with me….and on the other hand, I need to not deny my own truth. On the one hand, I need to accept myself where I am right now….and on the hand, I want to grow and change.
Holding the tension can show up in your life if you allow it. Musicians will appreciate the concept of how having good tension makes beautiful music, and maybe the same thing can be said for our lives and our minds.