2 sides of 1 coin

In Chinese philosophy, the concept of ‘yin yang’ suggests that seemingly opposing things may actually be complementary and interconnected. Philosophically speaking, one cannot exist without the other as they give each other meaning. How can you know black without white, light without dark?

The same is understood of the unique aspects of our personality, our strengths and our weaknesses, they are 2 sides of the same coin. For example, being very laid back (strength) may tip into lacking any motivation (weakness), being very dynamic and efficient (strength) might tip into feeling anxious and overwhelmed (weakness). To truly understand and best project our strengths without exploring the natural weaknesses that are part of the same package, would make change unrealistic.

We are all different and respond to life differently, so we need a variety of things to balance these fluctuating but interconnected sides of us. To show up as our best selves, we need to know what our natural behavioural tendencies are and how to build on the positive aspects and minimize the way the more negative but corresponding aspects may present.

Balance is not just stillness but the managing of these opposing forces. When standing on one leg, you will wobble and be forced to adjust yourself continually in an effort to maintain balance. Forces pull in different directions, balance is achieved only by accommodating each force. But how do we better navigate this tipping point? What can we do to support our greatness and minimise the chance of ‘toppling’ into the not-so-great bits?

Seen as a bad thing and yet existing in us all, ‘weakness’ is something we are often not keen to highlight as it feels like an admittance of our flaws, a bearing of our soul. We want to hide our weaknesses from ourselves and others and prove that we are strong. But in the Chinese understanding of yin yang, it thought that we learn much more through turning to face and explore our weaknesses, as ‘strength’ gives us a deep connection with our external world and ‘weakness’, with our internal world, where change is really possible.

Firstly, we must be kinder to ourselves. The things you now see as ‘weaknesses’ are often your go-to because they have served you in the past and have become learned behaviours. It takes conscious practice to rewire these patterns of behaviour but by beginning to think about our thinking and actions, we put ourselves back into control.

Get some guidance from a trusted friend or partner as they may reflect some good insight. Weaknesses are often blind spots that we cannot ourselves see. Stop denying that weaknesses exist as they are the doorway to exploring our strengths. Accept sometimes you are lazy, muddled, a bit of a bully, sharp with people, defensive. Be curious what triggers their emergence and where these feeling come from. If there are obvious triggers, start to reflect on what you can do to alleviate them.

For example, many people I meet say that stress is the thing that is most likely to trigger their slip into the more ‘negative’ expressions of their personality. So if this is the case, look at practices that will help you remain more calm and better manage your stress. Learn some breathing techniques, hydrate properly, get good regular sleep, eat foods that nourish you rather than spike your energy levels.

Finally, focus on your strengths. If they are 2 sides of the same coin, weighting the coin so it is more likely to land on the favourable side is surely a good way forward. This is why at ATTIC we suggest finding the best fit of the 5 Chinese teas rather than just choosing at random. Although we know they will all do some good, constitutionally we are all different with different positives and negatives and each tea will better balance different personalities and thus support different natural behavioural tendencies, helping you find the strength within every weakness and be more likely to show up as your best self.

3 comments

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Patricia Alexander-Bird

Such a lovely article with a great reminder to be kinder to ourselves. I tell this to clients all the time when they are juggling so many balls and wondering why their health is taking a hit. Especially women, who wear so many hats and put themselves last.

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