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The Third Voice

Should you pursue your creative dreams or your career? This potential partner or that one? Start a family or stay child-free? Big decisions are rarely simple ones, and it can be frustrating to feel caught between two seemingly opposing options. When this happens to me, I like to remember the Jungian principle of holding the creative tension between the opposites.

Rather than use my rational faculties to argue for one choice or another, I give my decision-making process some breathing room. I don't think about the situation for a while, and when I do, I spend some time entertaining both possibilities as equally valid. The point is, I don't force a move. I sit with my embattled mind, and then I listen...for the Third Voice. "What's that?" you say.

It's the part of us that is more interested in integrating new awareness than in a knuckle-whitening conclusion. If we wait, it will use the frustration of our conundrum to forge insights about what we truly need.

Take for instance, an age-old romantic predicament: a woman finds herself torn between two lovers (violins, please). If she resists the urgency to act and lets herself just be with her dilemma , she may discover that what she really wants is a greater sense of selfhood in her relationships in general.

That Ah-ha! Moment (apologies to Oprah) could mean she decides she doesn't want to be with either person, but with her own fine self. By holding the tension between two opposing choices, refusing for just awhile to decide one is absolutely better than the other, we are giving priority to the process of becoming more conscious over trying to be right.

The mind might think this is not such a great idea, but, believe me, the soul will be overjoyed.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao

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