Sunday, March 23, 2014

How to Identify Paradoxes in Your Life

       If you are caught between opposing principles, and the only way to live authentically is by living with the tension (rather than attempting to solve/dissolve it), then you have identified a paradox. An existential paradox is any dilemma which must be lived rather than solved.

        The best quotation I know that sums up this phenomenon is from Niels Bohr: “The opposite of one profound truth may very well be another profound truth.”

        These opposing truths are often founded in principles or virtues that exist in dynamic tension in both work and relationships. For example:         
  • Freedom and Restriction
  • Independence and Cooperation
  • Safety and Risk
  • Self and Other
  • Ideal and Real
  • Trust and Doubt
  • Etc.
Developing our full humanity requires that we find a balance between these principles, rather than choosing and sticking with one side of the dilemma.

            So, ask yourself, where in my life right now do I feel “torn” between? Where’s my ambivalence; where do I find myself vacillating between opposing values? Would I be best served if I could somehow embrace the tension, recognizing that life and meaning are found in the interplay of these opposites?
            Then you’ve found the paradoxes.


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