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  • Lisa Carmen

your contradictions are dance partners



I have mixed feelings about pretty much everything. I joked with a friend recently that I’m going to write a book called “Mixed Feelings” and each chapter will be an essay about something I am “conflicted” about. It would be a really thick book.


I talk to people on the regular who call these contradictions “inner battles.” They suffer through the war between this voice and that voice, the war between love and fear, the war between wanting to stay and wanting to leave, the war between wanting to be seen and wanting to be invisible.


The wars we wage on ourselves are limitless. Isn't it time we stopped allowing parts of us to battle each other so ruthlessly?


There isn’t any war. There never was.


We seem to so easily forget that we are complex, multi-faceted people, with spaciousness within us for every single contradiction, every single opposing view, every single one of our mixed emotions.


And these parts of us are each precious and important.


Years ago, I replaced the word “battle” with the word “dance.”


I wanted to re-imagine these parts of me that seemed to relentlessly battling against each other. Instead of picturing them in a war, I began to imagine them dancing together. Sometimes clumsily, other times gracefully, sometimes slow and smooth, sometimes with intensity.


I imagine my inner world as an eternal dance party, where all the parts of me get opportunities to dance. And my contradictions, when they show up, are dance partners.


Sometimes one will lead, while the other follows. And then, just like that, they switch.


My sexual adventurousness dances with my sexual conservatism (on days when I am less compassionate with myself, I call it prudishness.)


My desire to numb and check out dances with my desire to feel it all and not miss a thing.

When hurt, my desire to hurt back dances with my desire to forgive and release my pain.


I could go on and on, because, literally, these parts of me are countless.


The more I live, the more I do my healing work, the more I realize there is room for all of these parts of me to coexist and there is no part of me that needs destroying, eliminating or removal. I am enormous, and spacious enough for any and all aspect of who I am, and the dance floor within me is always hopping. This reframe has done wonders for the level of peace I am able to experience. It's hard to feel peaceful when there are wars waging within.


The unanticipated, magical irony is that the more I allow all of these parts of me to dance, or even just exist, the more I trust myself to do the right thing, make the right decision, grow and become better at being me.


The more space I allow for my humanity, the more my soul expands into the baller/shot caller it is. Walt Whitman nailed it when he said "Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes." If you are reading this and still battling with aspects of yourself you judge or have disdain for, or wish there was a surgical removal procedure for, a good place to start is to acknowledge your largeness, your spaciousness, your limitless capacity to hold it all, to hold opposites and extremes.


Then, just observe the dance, the shifting and twirling and dipping and spinning that’s always present.


What an interesting, fascinating, colorful and complex scene you are.

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