Mark Blasini


Yin-yang strategy


The Chinese have a brilliant philosophical concept called the yin-yang that actually has a lot of application to real life. Far from being simply mystical, the yin-yang concept has huge potential for changing your life.

Here's the idea. There are two forces in the universe that shape events: the yin and the yang. The yin stands for the negative, and can take on a lot of characteristics: emptiness, darkness, weakness, softness, pliability, indirectness, etc.

The yang stands for the positive: fullness, brightness, strength, hardness, firmness, directness, etc.

These forces are complementary. This means that when they matched together (yin-yang), they create or facilitate harmony, understanding, balance, peace. When they are mismatched (yin-yin or yang-yang), they perpetuate conflict, confusion, imbalance, war.

For example, let's say you have a significant other who is criticizing you about something. This person is using yang (direct force) to try to change you. If you respond with yang as well, criticizing her back ("Well, what about when you...?") or completely rejecting her criticism ("I don't do that"), then you'll likely generate just more conflict and discord.

However, if you respond with yin, accepting or at least considering her criticism, showing flexibility in how you see yourself, then you'll be much more likely to generate understanding and harmony between you two.

An important thing to understand about the yin-yang concept is that there is no such thing as pure yin or pure yang. Every yin has a bit of yang, and every yang has a bit of yin.

Going back to the previous example, your significant other most likely feels an insecurity or emptiness (yin) that is motivating her criticism (yang). In other words, she doesn't simply want you to change (yin) for the sake of changing, but so that your change can help fill (yang) her insecurity.

(Paradoxically, if she simply converted her criticism into a request, which has both yang (direct approach) and yin (vulnerability) qualities, she would have a much more harmonious result.)

I mention relationships here, but the yin-yang concept can be applied to any area of life in which you are struggling. Take, for example, personal finance.

Let's say you are struggling financially - you have very little savings, which means you have to rely on credit cards for emergencies, which only increases your debt, further keeping you from building your savings, and so on, in a vicious cycle.

Using the yin-yang concept, let's analyze the situation:

  1. The imbalance here is caused by too much yin (no savings and big debt).
  2. Your initial situation is a yin situation (no savings).
  3. You try to resolve it with a yin force (credit cards) that looks like a yang force. (It's yin because by using a credit card, you are using money you don't have, putting you more in the negative).
  4. Because you have created a bigger yin problem (debt), your initial problem (no savings) remains unchanged.

To create harmony in this situation, you must balance the yin-yang forces that are influencing the situation. Here's just one way you could solve the problem:

  1. To increase your savings, you need to direct funds (yang) into your savings account (yin). Cut your expenses as much as possible and redirect any freed-up money into your savings. Build that account first before actively trying to pay off debt.
  2. Next, focus on fulfilling (yang) your debts (yin). Sell anything you don't use, work overtime or another job, start a side hustle, whatever, to increase your income. Apply that income to paying off your debts.

I could go on and on about the applications of yin-yang to life.The important thing is to know how to identify the play of forces in the situation you're facing so that you can respond with the right combination of yin-yang forces.

To do this, there are a few questions you must ask yourself:

  1. Am I in a situation that can be characterized as imbalanced by too much yin or too much yang?
  2. What are the individual forces at play in the situation?
  3. What is the correct balance of yin-yang I should apply in this situation?

Once you start thinking in this way, you'll see a whole new world open up, a new set of possibilities for making decisions.