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Signs and Symptoms of an Atlas Complex



Let's talk about Atlas. And by "Atlas" I mean the Greek Titan charged with holding up the heavens after a snafu with Zeus went sideways.


How's that for a Greek literature summary?


To be more specific, we're looking at what it means to have an Atlas Complex. No, this is not in the DSM-5 or on a medical blog. We're cutting-edge here people. This is *Re-Thinker.


I came up with the language of "Atlas Complex" after observing myself. Folks familiar with the counseling / mental health world could also insert "overfunctioner" and get the gist of the idea. But I'm going to flesh it out differently than a mental health book. So if you're intrigued, stay tuned.


We're doing this "Signs and Symptoms" style before we get into how an Atlas Complex impacts our ability to rethink.

So here we go. Signs and symptoms you too could have an Atlas Complex.


1/ An Inability to Release Control


This can manifest as a struggle to delegate, micromanaging, or resisting reality. It's one thing to want to shape something. It's another to be terrified of letting anyone, or anything else shape it.


2/ Silent Suffering


You don't say anything unless it's really bad. "No pain no gain," right? You've got that "suck it up buttercup," mentality deep in your bones. You're tough. I'll give you that. But you're also liable to snap.


3/ Reduced Mobility


Holding up the heavens is heavy. Or whatever your equivalent is. Not a lot of room to pivot or change direction under all that weight. It's taking everything in you to keep your knees from buckling.


4/ Tunnel Vision


You can't think. The stress of trying to keep it all from closing in has reduced your ability to see. In an actual emergency, this type of tunnel vision is great. It helps you survive. But chronically, as a way of navigating the world 24/7...not so much.


5/ Resentment


You're an angry soul. (Yeah, I said it.) Possibly angry at everything. Hard to say. Definitely angry at all the people who should be holding up their end of the heavens. Only catch is sometimes they would, if you'd let them. Or it's a pillar that doesn't belong to either of you.


6/ Devaluation of Self


On one hand, you're functioning as way more important than you are. And by "important" I don't mean fundamentally valuable. I mean it more like covering a zone of the field in baseball. You're super important in right field. But, you're not going to be effective if you're also trying to cover third base. It's a stretch. So yes, on the one hand, there's an inflated sense of self going on, if you think you have to hold up the heavens. And simultaneously, I'm guessing, if you were to dig beneath the surface, you also feel worthless.


The paradox of an Atlas Complex is this: You feel like a pillar and a burden, simultaneously.


All my fellow Atlas Complexes out there, read that again.

And let it marinate.


7/ Emotional Neglect


You neglect your emotions, either by suppressing them, dismissing them, or rationalizing them away because they are "less important."


8/ Unawareness of Personal Needs


Do you ever go deer-in-the-headlights when someone asks you what you need? I can't help but wonder if we can't answer, because we don't care. We're too busy caring for whatever it is we're carrying.


9/ Powerful Longings


Supercharged longings, more like. I mean who wouldn't be building up pressurized wants holding up the heavens? It's the perfect time to daydream about all the other things you could be doing. And by itself, daydreaming is not a bad thing. (Recall we talked about wonder last time.) But it can fuel a volcanic blow one day when you toss it all in and tell the heavens to hold themselves.


Deep breath. You made it. Whether those signs and symptoms hit you square between the eyes or grazed off, here's the takeaway I want to leave us with.


It is very difficult to rethink something when you're using all your energy carrying it. 


What perspective would you gain if you decided to set the heavens down? And maybe not the whole thing. That would result in that volcanic blow I just mentioned. But what about one pillar? Maybe two? If you took stock, how many of them are actually yours?


One last thought, Atlas to Atlas.


Gentleness is not the absence of strength.

It's one of its many gears, as necessary as grit.


Just a thought.

Talk to you all in a few weeks.





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