Striving Adam and Soulful Adam

By Dave Henning / October 30, 2021

“Whether you find yourself relating more to your Striving Adam or your Soulful Adam, the unrelenting push of Western society is to feed and applaud our Striving Adam. . . .  Our ambition  to conquer, create, and control usually wins over our hunger to experience deep relationships with people and intimacy with our Creator.”- Ken Shigematsu

In Chapter 1 (“The Divided Self”) of Survival Guide for the Soul, Ken Shigematsu notes that Scripture suggests that we’re complex, multidimensional human beings.  Filled with a variety of motives and desires.  For example, Genesis 1 introduces us to the Striving Adam, while Genesis 2 presents the Soulful Adam.

Therefore, in a modern context, our first Adam feels a desire to conquer.  In addition, that Adam feels pressure to produce and achieve success.  On the other hand, our Soulful Adam yearns for relationship and seeks to find meaning in life.

However, these two personas need not be opposed to one another.  Hence, a healthy person finds a balance between the two drives.  As a result, the two drives complement each other in a holistic, life-giving way.

Put another way, Ken stresses our need to carefully balance our Striving Adam’s ambition with our Soulful Adam’s longing.  But, we often prioritize our Striving Adam.  Because we falsely believe our achievements help us overcome our sense of not-enoughness.  We think our efforts fill our emptiness and this makes us happy.  An if-then perspective.

Above all, Harvard psychologist Shawn Arbor observes that science fails to support this ‘if-then’ perspective.  For each time our brain experiences a ‘success,’ it moves the goal posts, or standards, that define how success looks.

Finally, to experience higher and more enduring forms of success, we need more than pleasure from material things.  That kind of happiness results from generativity.  Ken states the term entails bringing life and well-being to others.  And surrendering ourselves to unconditional infinite love.

Today’s question: What most helps you maintain balance between your two Adams?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Our fundamental problem- too weak sense of self”

About the author

Dave Henning

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