“These light and dark halves, Jung thought, revealed not only conscious and subconscious forces – and most usefully to leaders-our positive and negative evaluations of them, forces that, like the deities of the ancients, govern our lives.” – John O’Neil
Our stress often comes from a negative evaluation of an event more than from the event itself. Albert Ellis taught that our irrational belief about something causes more stress than the event we attribute that stress too. We all have things which stress us out – so why don’t we write those things down to better understand them?
In John O’Neil’s book, Leadership Aikido, he encourages balance (chapter four) through the art of creating a Mandala. This is not like the art found in Adult Coloring Books where you simply fill in empty spaces with color preferences. The Mandala in O’Neil’s book is made of opposites-opposing forces which work against each other, in a personal way, within an individual.
He suggests that you identify pairs of opposing forces in your life such as the example of pairs provided below.
Control versus Trust
Diversity versus Unity
Family Needs versus Career Needs
Preference for Thinking versus Preference for Action
Clear Communication versus Creative Ambiguity
If these pairs are related to what stresses you out, include them in your Mandala, or make up your unique pairs of opposing forces. A few other opposite ideas which most of us encounter are Love/Hate, Peace/Chaos, Security/Fear, Mastery/Incompetence, New/Old, and Kind/Mean.
Once you have a list, begin to arrange them in a large, drawn circle across from each other, the level of creativity is up to you. A slightly irregular, hand-drawn circle, will work well enough for this exercise.
The items on the Mandala can be connected through a series of lines drawn from one to the other, across the circle. Additional connections can be made between adjacent words to involve two pairs of opposites into a shared connection.
Looking at the words can create a new perspective about which ideas (values, forces) can influence how you look at the division between the original pair of opposite forces. For example, if Love versus Hate is adjacent to Peace versus Chaos on your Mandala – how do the items in the second pair influence the ideas in the first pair. This can be done with any two pairs of opposing ideas.
O’Neal said, “Only you are the final judge,” of which forces influence, soften, and change the way you feel.
One Thing To Do: Make a Mandala which identifies your stressors and their opposites. Then explore your drawing by discovering the positive or negative impact some ideas can have on others.
Dawna Daigneault, Ed.S., LPC.