The Nature of the Beast: Embracing Our Extremes

Last night I was listening to this podcast, and a concept that I have been wrapping my head around for a while was discussed. The revelations of the conversation had quite a profound impact on me, which I felt the urge to hash out. Here goes nothin’.

A question was posed by Rich Roll: “Should we embrace the extreme sides of our personalities, or try to disengage from those tendencies altogether?” Extremes can lead to interpersonal struggles and addictions, resulting in negative impacts on our lives and overall wellness.

When you realize you have a personality like that (raises hand), it can feel as if you’re the reluctant caretaker of a beast you’d rather not wrestle with. But the eloquent solution of how to utilize such traits and inclinations was beautifully explained, and led me to ponder it even further. Thanks, Guru Singh. (Seriously – listen to the podcast – this point is merely one gem from an incredible and lengthy discussion.)

I have dabbled in addictions throughout much of my adult life, which have manifested in many ways. There have been bouts where I became fixated on alcohol, shopping, prescription opioids, marijuana, toxic relationships, or compulsive exercising. I say fixated because I always felt an element of control over those things, which of course was a deflection from reality. “Addiction” can be such a serious, scary word, but one I ultimately needed to acknowledge and accept as part of me.

The path that led me to acceptance was an interesting one.

When I lived in Los Angeles throughout the fall of 2015, I had a natal chart reading and counseling session with a Spiritual & Astrological Counselor. When in Rome! An astrology natal chart is a map of where all the planets were in their journey around the Sun, from our vantage point on earth, at the exact moment you were born. Here’s mine:

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And weird realization – I had heard that counselor interviewed on a podcast as well,  and subsequently felt compelled to reach out to her. I was so glad that I did. Lesson learned: when the universe calls, especially through a podcast, you answer!

The most profound thing she told me, without knowing much of anything about me, is that I was born with abundant energy, mainly of the creative sort (yep), but if I don’t channel my energies into positive pursuits it manifests negatively in my life (spot on). It was a total lightbulb moment, and I immediately began to pinpoint all the times I chose risky, detrimental behavior, the comfort of food, or the release of an addiction, over utilizing my innate talents for good. Whoa.

So simple, right? But of course it’s not that easy.

When you realize you have addiction issues, you also realize that those issues never really go away. I will always struggle with that part of myself, which is why the initial question (Should we embrace the extreme sides of our personalities, or try to disengage from those tendencies altogether?) resonated with me so much.

The answer?

Channel the power of your extreme nature into production.

Learn to balance it with extreme relaxation.

Don’t deny your nature.

– Guru Singh

Although I had worked hard to channel my energies into positive, creative outlets (like this blog, my podcast, and many other things), the allure of addicting sources was still enticing. The temptation was always right below the surface, proving that mere acknowledgement was not enough. For so long I arrogantly felt as if I had “cured” those tendencies, or at least regained control of them.

But control is an illusion.

If I had control, why did I still want a drink (or two, or three) at the end of a particularly hectic or emotionally taxing day? Or even a very joyous one? And why did I still seek delight in mindless spending, knowing it feeds the cycle of consumerism that is never fully satisfied? When I engaged in those former flings I always felt guilty the following day, and like a failure – still an amateur in my own skin and personality. They were copouts that felt like easy reflexes, as I denied the awareness and acknowledgement that I could do better than that. And I wanted to do better than that.

But how?

Enter the second half of the equation: extreme relaxation.

4a6a1964 That term refers to inward, still practices like quiet meditation, reconnecting with nature, self study, deep thinking, sensory deprivation tanks, digital detoxes, certain types of yoga practice, reiki, massage, acupuncture, and more. You could consider all of these as tools for facilitating extreme reflection, rest, and ways to refresh a toxic mind.

For years I have incorporated many of those things into my life, but never saw them as an interconnected partner in the management of my innate, extreme nature. There was the second lightbulb moment.

First comes acknowledgement and acceptance, then comes the embracing and redirecting of these personality “gifts,” and finally, counterbalancing the extreme temptations and urges with tactics that serve us in extremely rejuvenating ways.

It’s beginning to feel more manageable.

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And so the journey continues, with my nature fully acknowledged, and my arsenal of tools to “cure my life” a bit better equipped. Another piece in the intricate puzzle to my ever-perplexing and inspiring existence, and one that has brought me some peace and clarity today.

I hope it serves you as well.

I think the healthy way to live is to make friends with the beast inside oneself, and that means not the beast but the shadow. The dark side of one’s nature.

– Anthony Hopkins

 


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Betsy Brockett was diagnosed with Mesothelioma at the age of 28, and continues to thrive despite the challenges that cancer has created in her life. Holding a degree in Art & Visual Technology from George Mason University, Betsy expresses herself through writing, photography, painting, pottery, and more. She is most often found cultivating, creating, practicing/teaching yoga, or simply enjoying the beauty of life.