Often we romanticize particular people or cultures who have personality traits we lack. However, by idealizing them we tend to disown our own values and set ourselves up for disappointment.
Overly-cerebral types sometimes romanticize sensual people who exude erotic, tribal, and earth-bound energy. As a reaction to their life of logic and reason, they are drawn to those who embody physicality, desire, and sensuality. After years of working in a job requiring a lot of thinking, they might fantasize and in fact move to an island to relax and enjoy the easy sensuality of the beaches and its people. Or an older mental type may fall in love with a young seductive type, even though they have nothing to talk about.
In either case, the enchantment usually does not last very long if it involves disregarding a primary part of themselves. They generally regret abandoning their well-developed capabilities all together in search of the opposite. If in their new quest they reject the mind, they will encounter new problems arising from the other side of the split — all sensuality and physicality and little intelligence and planning.
To free ourselves from the split between the sensual and the cerebral, we cannot disavow either side by swinging like a pendulum from one side to the other. Yet, the differences between the mind and the body are stark. So how can we preserve something of our own values when opening to new and contrasting values?
Perhaps we can achieve this apparent paradox by relating to these new qualities with wonder while remaining grounded in the familiar. Instead of casting aside rational thinking, we could aim to become more whole with the realization that all personality types have their own strengths and weaknesses. We have to be willing to face the ambiguity of appreciating opposing sets of qualities.
In other words, we can be cerebral and physical. We can be intellectual and sensual. We can plan for the future and live in the now.
Wholeness requires an ability to dance with the paradox of being open to that which we’re comfortable with and that which is different. Living with the positive tension of polarity creates psychic energy, which makes us grow and feel more alive. It is this wrestling with the inconsistency of integrating counterbalancing qualities that sets the stage for becoming a more complete individual.
As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.
by Alison Poulsen, PhD