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I’d Rather Be Whole Than Good

This article was originally published on Medium.

Carl Jung is known for having said, “I’d rather be whole, than good.”

For a while now, this quote has been stuck in the back of my mind, working it’s way around, and testing out the waters of my perceptions. When I was a child, I used to think the most important thing in the world was to be good. To be what I believed everyone else wanted — what would make them happy. As I grew up, that believe — or rather, that habit — stuck with me. In some weird way, it worked for me. Allowing me to focus on helping others and being to them what I didn’t think I could be for myself.

It wasn’t until my 30’s when I realized I couldn’t move forward in peace when a part of me felt like it was missing. I’d been lying to myself that things were okay. I was in an unhappy marriage — not an earth-shatteringly unhappy one, but the kind that slowly sucked the life from you one day at a time. When I was 33, I decided enough was enough. I stepped away from all that I was, the woman I had become to embrace someone new in me.

Now, 5 years later, I look back on my life in its entirety and I can barely remember what that feeling was like. Sure, I still struggle with myself — my inner journey; my outer purpose. But I don’t suffer in my new marriage; not like that.

However, the one thing my previous marriage and subsequent fallout from the divorce taught me is this: staying true to yourself is more important than making everyone else happy.

I believe that’s the essence of what Carl Jung was trying to say. Everyone’s perception of what “good” is very subjective. Good can flitter between cultures, across races, and dance along the fence of religious lines. When you stay true to you, to your inner voice and soul — that is where true happiness and contentment lie.

We’re all trying to reach this place of wholeness. From every entrepreneurial inspiration site, to the dystopian books we read, to the movies we watch; they’re all saying it. Do what you love, do what makes you you, embrace who you are.

So why then do we live in a world where differences are fodder for bullying, where we only appreciate the genius after he/she’s gone? Why do we care what someone else does in their consensual bedrooms or the reason they’re in the women’s bathroom and not the men’s? It’s all diversionary tactics because we’ve denied ourselves the ability to be whole.

I truly believe the people who fight most adamantly to oppose something (say gay marriage, interracial marriage, transgenders using the bathroom) are hiding a part of themselves. Perhaps it’s even a part of themselves they don’t like and wish wasn’t there.

The brilliance in acceptance is the more we give, the more we ourselves have. Additionally, it allows us to embrace being whole while letting go of the madness within.

Eckhart Tolle has said, “To complain is always nonacceptance of what is. It invariably carries an unconscious negative charge. When you complain, you make yourself into a victim. When you speak out, you are in your power. So change the situation by taking action or by speaking out if necessary or possible; leave the situation or accept it. All else is madness.”

My husband always says, “I never said I was good,” when his judgment and morality don’t mix with society’s current norms. At first, I have to admit, I wasn’t sure what to think or where to put this sentiment. (I was still in my recent post-divorce brain.) Now, the longer I’ve been with him, the more I understand and see why. Others will do to you whatever they can — whatever they can get away with. Just look at the debacle that is our democratic system right now. He trusts his own moral compass to guide him with every step he takes.

That, my friends, is being whole.

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Author, Carissa Andrews

Carissa Andrews is a Multipassionate MN Entrepreneur, Sci-fi Author, freelance writer, graphic designer and artist, unapologetic progressive, Lightworker, truthsayer, and occasional badass.

Her YA science fiction novel Pendomus, is available now through Amazon. Polarities, Book 2 of the Pendomus Chronicles, and Revolutions, Book 3 of the Pendomus Chronicles are set to be released at the end of 2017! Stay tuned for release dates!

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  • Reply Kathleen Krueger May 24, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    I love philosophical discussions. This is right up my alley (or my street as they say in some parts of the world). “Good” is a very subjective word. Can a person actually be “good” or “bad,” or is it only their actions, motives and thoughts that can be judged in such a way? And regardless, the definition of good or bad will always be based on the point of view of the one making the judgment, whether it is you judging yourself or someone judging another person or their actions.

    Wholeness is a whole different idea and one that is not as prevalent in our society or in many cultures. It is one that is not easy to define and really can only be defined by an individual’s introspection of their own person.

    Regardless of your definition of “good,” I believe it is much easier to be good if you are whole. My definition of good comes from the universal standards of “love your neighbor as yourself” and “do unto others as you would have them do to you” though I believe these are to begin in the motivations of the heart and not just in physical actions. Are “good” deeds done with wrong or impure motives actually good? Another philosophical question that can take you around in circles. Thanks for stirring my brain, Carissa.

    • Reply Carissa Andrews May 24, 2017 at 2:39 pm

      Thank you so much for your insight, Kathy. I also love philosophical discussions. They make us dig a little deeper. 🙂 This is something that’s clearly been on my mind for a while, and I don’t think it will go away any time soon. To me, striving to be the best version of myself, whatever that may be, is the goal. I’ve done the societal “good” for a long time, and often found myself walked over because of it. Not to say that a person can’t give of themselves, but they should do so without the worry or expectation of the result. When I was younger, I did “good” in the hopes of someone validating it. But I realized as I got older, that people just expect that of you as part of who you are. So if it doesn’t feel good to me to “good” (because I was doing it out of obligation or thought that’s what was expected of me) – then I was no longer going to embrace that as part of who I am. Does that make sense?

  • Reply Kathleen Krueger May 25, 2017 at 8:32 am

    Yes, Carissa. It comes down to the motivation behind your actions. Giving to gain something in return, even if it is a thank you, some kind of appreciation from the recipient or to elevate yourself in the eyes of others, includes a selfish motive. Giving of your time, your concern or your resources is your choice. If you can do so without expectation, it is truly a gift and you can shrug your shoulders if the recipient wastes it or if you never know whether any benefit was realized by your generosity.

    At the same time, there are things I do because I know it will please someone else. The key there is to remember that it is my choice, not an obligation. I do it because I care about the other person and am willing to sacrifice on their behalf. If the other person tries to take advantage of that, it is my own fault if I let them do so. We choose who is allowed to exercise control over us.

    • Reply Carissa Andrews May 25, 2017 at 11:19 am

      I agree! As we become more self-aware, the “taking advantage” becomes (well, always was, but is more obvious) our own doing. Having and exercising good boundaries becomes crucial. But when we give of ourselves because we want to, without reciprocation, that’s a true form of “goodness.” 🙂

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