Brian Collinson

Journeying Toward Wholeness

Vibrant Jung Thing Blog

Anxiety and the Downturn

November 30th, 2008 · collective consciousness, Current Affairs, depth psychology, Georgetown, Halton Region, Individuation, Jungian psychology, life passages, Lifestyle, Meaning, Milton, Mississauga, Oakville, panic, Peel Region, popular culture, Psychotherapy, The Self, Wellness, wholeness

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The present economic conditions are deeply challenging to the ways that we all think about ourselves and our lives.  It takes a toll on all of us to be constantly bombarded with negative economic news that often seems only to get worse with each passing day.

It's evident to me from my practice how much anxiety is being created in each of us, and what a heavy burden a lot of people are having to carry in the present situation.  At the tail end of last week, there were numerous people who came through my office who were profoundly anxious and deeply scared at the things that they were seeing in their personal and working lives as we undergo the current economic crisis.

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How can we avoid being crippled by the anxiety and the fear?  There are a number of things to keep in focus.

First, the economic conditions that we are confronting are governed by the psychology of the crowd.  Modern communication technology only enhances and deepens this effect.  Crowd psychology is prone to irrational excitements and manias when things are good, and is equally prone to mass panics when they are bad.  In the short run, it can likely be expected that panic will actually worsen economic conditions, and we have to be prepared to weather that.

Second, we must fully expect that this mass panic is going to "hook" and activate all of our deepest fears.  Money is a very emotional matter for the vast majority of human beings.  It symbolizes our life-energy, which we have put into our work, through our sweat and sacrifice.  We can expect that, when we receive the kind of ominous news that has been about, we are going to initially respond with fear and anxiety — maybe even with terror.

Third, it is important to "hang onto ourselves" by not giving way to this fear and panic.  On balance, weighing decisions carefully at this time, and realizing that we are being infected, so to speak, by the panic of the crowd, and taking action in a way that really is in line with our own true feelings and emotions will lead us to courses of action that will serve us better.  Also, we need to hang on to the recognition that this crisis will not last forever.

Fourth, find your basic trust in life again, and act from that.  This is the time to draw on your deepest philosophical and religious convictions.  What do you really believe is important in life?  Do you believe that life is a meaningful journey, which is unfolding in a way that makes your life and the lives of the people close to you valuable?  If so, now is the time to put that belief in front of you, and to remind yourself of it constantly.

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It's Been a While Since I've Posted

November 16th, 2008 · depth psychology, Halton Region, Jungian analysis, Jungian psychology, Mississauga, Oakville, Peel Region, Psychotherapy, Wellness, wholeness

…because it's been an extremely busy time for me, professionally and personally!

  I haven't given up on this blog, though.  I'm still enjoying it and I still want to keep sending out thoughts and reflections, and welcoming dialogue with all of you.

If I can just paddle my canoe past the end of November, I should be back to my usual blogging frequency.

Canoe Paddle for Vibrant Jung Thing 

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Looking forward to more Vibrant Jung Thing, and wishing you all every good thing,

Brian

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In Suburbia At Age Forty-Five

November 2nd, 2008 · Current Affairs, depth psychology, Georgetown, Halton Region, Individuation, Jungian analysis, Jungian psychology, life passages, Meaning, midlife, Oakville, Peel Region, Psychotherapy, soul, suburbia / exurbia, The Self, wholeness

 One of the larger age groups that come to me for therapy are people who are at or right around the age of 45.

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This is not entirely surprising to me.  For many people at this age, there is a tremendous amount going on in their lives.  As life unfolds for many people, this is an point in life where the individual is confronted with fundamental changes in his or her life.  These may not be obvious to outsiders, especially given the suburban lifestyle with its unique pressures.  Nonetheless, sometimes what is going on for people on the psychological level is enormous.

Does this mean that these people are mentally ill, or somehow suffering from "psychological disorders"?  Of course not.  But it does mean that these people are confronting some of the most fundamental psychological or existential issues in human life. 

For many of these people, the question of meaning is becoming a matter of increasing urgency.  In a lot of cases, the people who come to me are people who are very accomplished, and who have achieved a lot in their lives.  They have done what society has asked of them, in that they have moved out from the family of origin, gotten the necessary education, gotten into good careers, and often gotten married and raised families.  They are exemplary "good members of the community".  However, for many of them, there is a need for something more, now.  They are seeking for a life that is fulfilling for them.  They are seeking for a life that has value for themselves, individually.

Many such people are struggling with relationship issues.  There can be a strong feeling that the relationship that they are in is simply not currently meeting their needs.  Or else, they may have a strong feeling that their partner, who is often dealing with some pretty fundamental issues in his or her own life is no longer as fulfilled by the relationship as they once were.

Often these people are in the midst of deep changes in their lives.  Often they are unsure "which way is up", and they are asking questions about where lasting value is in their lives, and what they can hold onto that will give them a sense of orientation.  They are asking these questions in a deeply personal way: no "ready made, off the shelf" answer is going to work for them.  They are asking about who they really are, and they are asking what in their lives has lasting, incorruptible value.

These are the questions at the heart of what Carl Jung called the individuation process.  For many people in the age bracket anywhere from later 30s through the 50s. these questions can take on a tremendous urgency.

Who, most fundamentally, are you? 

What is most meaningful to you, personally, in your life? 

How will you live in the light of what is most important to you? 

These are not questions that stem from some sort of psychological disorder.  Rather they are questions that sane, healthy people naturally confront as they move through the journey of their lives.  Nonetheless, finding the answers that we need may be tied very strongly to incorporating new insights that emerge from the deepest parts of ourselves, and from the collective unconscious.  Often people need help to orient themselves in this unfamiliar territory, and to wrestle with their own depths.  I firmly believe that this is something that working with a compassionate therapist with deep experience with this type of issue and with the unconscious can provide.

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