I don’t know whether you are intrigued, shaking your head in dis-belief, or laughing at the notion of something so seemingly absurd as managing paradox - that mental phenomena where two things cannot logically co-exist, but indeed, do. In our daily lives paradox shows up in the form of dilemmas: peace or conflict? freedom or responsibility? security or risk? right or wrong? trust or doubt? sacred or profane? Our minds simply can’t imagine any of these sets of opposites co-existing. It has to be one or the other, but definitely not both.

Whatever your response, know that I’ve also experienced fascination, great skepticism, and a sense of the ridiculous about the notion of managing paradox. So allow me to focus your attention on what has captivated mine for years. And that is the assertion by Mystics throughout time that access to the proverbial “peace that passes all understanding” rests in the seemingly impossible task of de-mystifying the mysterious conundrum of paradox.

What we haven’t truly appreciated until now is that the impossible task of de-mystifying the paradox puzzle becomes possible when we shift our way of living with duality. With all of the awakenings in our conscious awareness to what reality is, how it may work, and our role within it, we must be careful not to inadvertently make the same error we have made dozens of times before.

“To set up what you like against what you dislike
is the disease of the mind.”
Sengsten, Third Zen Patriarch

While we speak to the unity and harmony of the whole as our desired goal, our language itself too often reveals an unconscious choice of one pole of a polar pair as more important, or more right, than the other – spiritual over material, peace over conflict, trust over doubt, unity over diversity, harmony over discord, or visa versa. We may think that by eradicating the pole we don’t want, we are creating a non-dual universe, or “fixing the problem”. We may believe that the dilemma, or duality itself, with its conflicts and tensions, will then somehow disappear. Or worse yet, we may begin to perceive the spiritual as the solution to the problems of the material world – which, paradoxically, it is and it is not.

In contrast, depolarizing the mind frees us to perceive war and peace, anger and compassion, freedom and responsibility, and even duality and non-duality, as partners, and to perceive the friction or tension between them as creativity in disguise. This shift in perception changes everything.


Like the fish that are surrounded by water, we swim in an ocean of polarities. Unaware of how to extricate ourselves from the dilemmas that permeate our world, our brains automatically fall back on a primary biological hardwiring. This hardwiring forces us to respond to our environment by moving toward one extreme and away from its opposite, presumably for the purpose of survival. We are instinctively driven toward pleasure (the sex drive) and away from pain (the aversion to death).

This drive accomplishes its biological goal of species survival but wreaks havoc when applied to our emotional, psychological and spiritual dilemmas. At these levels, this directional drive results in the phenomena of polarization or setting up what we like against what we dislike. Polarization is the single greatest interference to our development of the category of Peace, Love, and Compassion that is not the opposite of war, hate, and anger.

Unconscious Polarization

Unconscious Polarization is a problem because:
o It requires us to take a position toward the differences that diversity generates - either for a specific difference or against it (good vs. bad, right vs. wrong) AND fight for it as Truth.
o It colors our unconscious perception of these distinctions and shifts them into evidence of our separation from each other.
o When mismanaged, or not managed at all, polarization spirals down into the all-too-common struggle for power and control.
o Without awareness of polarization’s presence and function, it creates and sustains an enormous amount of pain and suffering.
o We have no idea how to manage the presence of polarization in our lives.

We are finally becoming aware of the truly debilitating effects of polarized thinking, but have not, up to now, found a way to actually de-polarize our minds. Paradox Management is the key to this de-polarization process.


De-polarization is crucial because it:
o Releases the suffering inherent in setting up what we like against what we dislike.
o Is central to developing the Peace, Love, and Compassion that is not the opposite of war, hate, and anger.
o Catapults us into new and more expanded states of creativity, paradoxical thinking, and thus, mystical perception.

To offer the leadership and vision our times require as individuals, professionals, change agents in any domain, and even as spiritual leaders, wisdom dictates we move beyond unconscious polarization – not just intellectually, but in the very words we speak and the actions we take.

Polarization generates disastrous results because we have not consciously been aware that
the dilemmas we are struggling with consist of two interdependent poles.

When two poles are interdependent,
no matter how hard you try to get rid of the one you don’t want,
you will fail
because neither pole can exist without the other.

Without leadership that is beyond polarizing between spiritual and material, people and profit, cooperation and competition, trust and doubt, and all other interdependent polar pairs, our desired wisdom will be lacking in practicality and will remain essentially incomplete.

When we truly perceive duality as the fundamental nature of our universe, we are clear that light and dark are two sides of the same coin. Like the in-breath and the out-breath, both are needed. This clarity allows our vision of a more peaceful, loving world to naturally include concrete, practical ways to navigate all the shadows of mankind. This will include the paradoxes and seemingly impossible contradictions of the mind that now stalk our world creating fear and terror, and a sense of hopelessness and helplessness.

In this universe, we are destined to live in duality. Paradoxically, to thrive in duality with any semblance of peace requires us to perceive duality’s non-dual essential nature hidden within. We are being called to mindfulness of our words and unconscious communications. Finding the center of a circle doesn’t mean the circumference disappears or is any less important to the totality of the circle’s wholeness.

Our hidden polarizations reveal themselves in the way we language our passions and our goals. Anytime we set up what we like against what we dislike, our consciousness contracts. When we can perceive the harmony of polar opposites in action, our consciousness expands and the shift in consciousness we seek greatly increases its probability of appearing in a quantum leap.

Thanks to advances in the fields of Behavioral Change and Energy Psychology, we can not only create this new approach to managing duality and evoke our mystical capacity to live in a paradoxical world, we can accelerate its actual development in the brain/body. Most importantly, Paradox Management enables us to by-pass our historical trap of setting up the spiritual against the material and visa versa. It frees us to perceive the presence of Oneness, manifesting on this plane of reality, as the organic unity of the two polar opposites.

For many years now we have been exploring what we thought it meant to be a spiritual being. Can we open to the possibility that we need to take a fresh look and retool our understanding and our language? Awakening and embodying our mystical heritage frees us to navigate the paradoxical nature of our dualistic universe. This opens our minds and hearts to a deeper and more powerful understanding of what it truly means to simultaneously be both divine and human – and geometrically increases our probability of creating the quantum leap in consciousness our planet needs today, not tomorrow.

"We are being asked to give up truth as we know it
and travel the path of Paradox
where the goal is everything
and there is no goal."
--The Voice Of The Future

Author's Bio: 

Ragini Elizabeth Michaels is a Behavioral Change Specialist, Author, International Trainer of NLP and Ericksonian Hypnosis, and the founder of Paradox Management and the Facticity® Wisdom School in Seattle, Washington. For more information, please visit facticity.com.