CAUGHT IN THE CONFLICT: The Tension of Opposites

Mar 17, 2022

Photo Credit: Davide Ragusa via Unsplash

Holding the tension between opposites was one of Jung’s foundational precepts. Although contradictory views are often a better witness to truth than one-sided conviction, beliefs and decisions often serve to relieve ambiguity, anxiety, and threat. Jung says, “The ego keeps its integrity only if it does not identify with one of the opposites, and if it understands how to hold the balance between them. This is possible only if it remains conscious of both at once. However, the necessary insight is made exceedingly difficult not by one’s social and political leaders alone but also by one’s religious mentors. They all want decisions in favor of one thing, and therefore the utter identification of the individual with the necessarily one-sided truth.” We need to suffer the tension a plurality of voices and views produces. Holding the tension of opposites grows consciousness, wholeness, and soul.


“I dreamed I had a little bird like a cockatoo who was my friend. He would press his head into my face to warn me of floods and bad storms. I hadn’t seen him for a while. I was at the cousins’ house in America and was reunited with my bird. We were affectionately putting our faces on each other when he stopped and pressed his head into my cheek for a really long time. I took this as a warning of a huge flood/storm. The house had a big safe room, and everyone went there. I realized that the furniture in my bedroom (in my own house, that I share with my boyfriend – except a very pastel version) wasn’t secured and threatened the integrity of the safe room. I ran to fix this. There was a time limit; a curtain would close, and a door would shut, leaving me locked in the bedroom if I didn’t get out quickly enough. The room was tilting up, and to tidy bits away, I had to climb the bed, which was hard to get a purchase on, and up the chest of drawers, which had all the drawers pulled out like stairs. Time was running out. On my way down the bed, I decided to close the drawers to stop the contents coming out. As I finished, the time ran out and the door shut – I was locked in the bedroom, alone, to weather this huge storm without any provisions or comfort. I wished my bird was with me but was also glad he was safe.”


Become our Patron: https://www.patreon.com/ThisJungianLife


Learn to Analyze your own Dreams: https://thisjungianlife.com/enroll/


  1. Annamaria

    This was really nice and moving. Joseph’s voice is so soothing that I fell asleep in the middle. I listened to it hoping I would hear about conflict of duty or examples for how the tension between the opposites looks in real life situation but I am not sure I get it.

  2. Phil

    I am very grateful for this. I have been trying to navigate wanting polyamory and explaining it to my partner.This provides me with a path to tread. Thank you

    • Joseph Lee

      Glad to hear the episode has been helpful ~ Joseph

  3. Mac Coombs

    Many years ago I read a Joseph Campbell book in which he pointed out the paradox that life depends on death.
    Thank you for bringing more understanding to that.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *