Posted in:   Path Basics, Pathwork

The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful: Reinveinting Your Worldly Toolkit

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Everything we are, everything we’ve experienced, learned, and suffered can be used in service of the healing and transformation of ourselves and our world. What matters is not so much who we are, or what has happened to us, but what we do with what we’ve been given. We can choose to reinvent our worldly toolkit, and make beauty with the good and the bad of our life.

You have the power to do beautiful things with what life has given you in your worldly toolkit. From both the good and the bad, you can create positive change.

Whether we are conscious of it or not, we have been socialized to see the world through the black and white lens of good and bad. Good things come about through the best sides of our humanity and personal nature; bad things through our worst instincts and the shadowy, nasty places in our collective humanity.

We apply this dichotomous lens not only to the world around us, but also to our personal history and characteristics. There are parts of ourselves that we embrace as good and positive, and other parts that we reject as bad and negative.

As we embark on a journey of healing and transformation, we may think that positive change will only come about if we can somehow get rid of or transcend the bad parts of ourselves. This is a destructive premise that is more likely to block, rather than enhance, our personal work. 

Instead I offer a different perspective: within each of us is the power to do beautiful things with what life has given us. From both the good and the bad, we can create beauty and positive change.

Our life story brings us the things we need to heal, grow and change, and whatever we have gathered in our worldly toolkit in the form of knowledge, skills, abilities, and personal characteristics can be used to bring about positive, beautiful change in ourselves and our greater environment. It all comes down to personal choice: what we do with what we’ve been given.

A Personal Story: A Witch with an MBA

This insight came to me in the midst of a crisis on my island home. A small corporation had bought a huge tract of land in the southern portion of our island and began to clearcut the forests, leaving a swath of devastation in its wake that threatened the environmental and economic fabric of our community.

In this story, the corporate world was the bad guy: the business men who owned the land, the multinational corporation that funded their activities, the government legislation that enshrined corporate rights over community and environmental considerations, and a cultural ethos that worshiped money above all things.

Our community rose up in resistance and I found myself, for the first time in my life, deeply involved in a collective activism that fought, with every bit of skill, knowledge, and inspiration at our disposal, to protect this stunning, natural landscape we called home.

Yet I faced a strange dilemma. I was also the bad guy in this story. I had a corporate, consulting background and an MBA. Whatever we were fighting out there was also part of my personal makeup and worldly toolkit.

This split within me wasn’t new. I had long struggled to reconcile the two divergent, powerful sides of me: the MBA with a corporate career, and the wild witch connected to earth and magic. Our community crisis and activism brought this struggle to the forefront.

But, as is the case in any crisis, there was no time for indulging my inner angst; I just jumped in with all that I had. With my witch skills, I did magic and ritual to protect the land, and with my corporate skills, I led a small group that organized public, consciousness-raising events like street theater. As the group’s business manager: I made agendas, ran the meetings, delegated tasks, made sure the financial resources were in place, and followed up on logistical details. Our group did amazing things, with a handful of people, little money, and quick, efficient meetings, due to the massive, diverse talents within our group and my well-honed business skills.

A light went on for me. The corporate world and my own business skills were not the ultimate bad guys. I had the power and potential to do good or do harm with the skills, abilities, and gifts life had bestowed upon me. And I chose to use my business acumen to do something beautiful: to help protect my island home.

This story has a beautiful ending. Our community activism stopped the clearcutting and turned big tracts of the forest into magnificent parkland. A middle ground was found between the interests of our community and the corporation that owned the land. And I reclaimed and reinvented my worldly business side in service of the beauty of my island home and community.

Reinventing Your Worldly Toolkit

1.  Take an inventory of your worldly toolkit.

List the key knowledge, skills, abilities, and personal characteristics that you draw upon to navigate the demands of the everyday world. Be sure to include the parts of your toolkit you see as good and bad.

2.  Choose one thing on this list, or a bundle of related things, that you view in a negative light.

This can be a “bad” side of your personal characteristics, a skill that you aren’t proud, or anything in your toolkit that you believe negatively impacts your life.

3.  Explore this part of yourself with clear eyes and an open heart.

Where did this part of you come from? What is its story? How does it bring about negative situations or outcomes?

What is your attitude toward this part of yourself? Do you want to: a) hide it, get rid of it, pretend it doesn’t exist, or transcend it; or b) embrace it, learn from it, and find a way to make it a positive part of your life?

4.  Now imagine, no matter what you current attitude is, that you can do good, beautiful things with this part of you see as “bad”.

Open your heart wide, with love, compassion, and acceptance of all that you are and all that life has brought to you. Know that you have the power to do good, to choose something new, beautiful, and life-affirming, with these parts of you that you see in a negative light.

This new, beautiful choice may be committing to heal an inner hurt or old story, or to reframe this part of you as a strength and ability that you can use in more positive ways.

Don’t overthink this, instead let go of your current way of thinking, and explore what else is true and possible. See how you can take this part of your worldly toolkit in a new, beautiful direction.

Everything you have experienced and learned, the good and the bad, has made you who you are today. Within your worldly toolkit, you have what you need to heal and transform yourself, and bring positive, beautiful changes to your greater environment.

Positive change doesn’t require that you reject or cut away your “bad” parts, but that you open yourself to love, self-acceptance, and new possibilities for these parts you see as negative. You can choose to do beautiful things with what you’ve been given.

Photo Credit: Ashim D’Silva on Unsplash

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