Journeying Toward Wholeness

Vibrant Jung Thing Blog

A Quotation from Carl Jung on Midlife Transition

February 24th, 2009 · Anxiety, Carl Jung, depression, depth psychology, dreams, Individuation, Jungian analysis, Jungian psychology, life passages, Meaning, midlife, Psychotherapy, soul, unlived life

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm planning to add some posts to this Path in Garden for Vibrant Jung Thing Blog blog that are built around quotations from Carl Jung, in addition to the posts that are my own reflections.

This is because I think that Jung's own thoughts and language often have some very good things to say to us directly about what life is now.

A good example of this is the following quotation, taken from C.G. Jung Speaking: Interviews and Encounters, a book which compiles many of Jung's public addresses and the experiences that other had in in encountering him.  This quotation expresses in its own way a kind of experience associated with mid-life transition and "the unlived life" that I recognize in many of my clients.  Perhaps you will recognize it, too.

"Take the example of a businessman — successful, rich, not yet old.  He is perhaps forty-five.  He says, 'I have made my fortune; I have sons that are old enough to carry on the business which I founded.  I will retire.  I will build a fine house in the country and live there without any cares or worries.'  So he retires.  He builds his house and goes to live in it.  He says to himself, 'Now my life will begin.'

But nothing happens.

One morning he is in his bath.  He is conscious of a pain in his side.  All day he worries about it; wonders what it can be.  When he goes to the table he does not eat.  In a few days his digestion is out of order.  In a fortnight he is very ill.  The doctors he has called in do not know what is the matter with him.  Finally, one of them says to him, 'Your life lacks interest.  Go back to your business.  Take it up again."

The man is intelligent, and this advice seems to him sound.  He decides to follow it.  He goes back to his office and sits down at his old desk and declares that now he will help his sons in the management.  But when the first business letter is brought to him, he cannot concentrate on it.  He cannot make the decisions it calls for.  Now he is terribly frightened about his condition.

You see what has happened.  He couldn't go back.  It was already too late.  But his energyThinking Man for Vibrant Jung Thingis still there, and it must be used.

This man comes to me with his problem.  I say to him: 'You were quite right to retire from business.  But not into nothingness.[Italics mine]  You must have something you can stand on.  In all the years in which you devoted your energy to building up your business you never built up any interests outside of it.  You had nothing to retire on.'

This is a picture of the condition of man today.  This is why we feel that there issomething wrong with the world.  All the material interests, the automobiles and radios and skyscrapers we have don't fill the hungry soul.  We try to retire from the world, but to what?  ….They are like the businessman who tried to go back to his desk.

….I say to him, "My dear man, I don't know any more than you do the meaning of the world or the meaning of your life.  But you — all men — were born with a brain ready made.  It took millions of years to build the brain and body we now have.  Your brain embodies all the experience of life."

'….Now suppose that I am in need of advice about living, and I know of a man who is already thousands of years old.  I go to him and say, 'You have seen many changes; you have observed and experienced life under many aspects.  My life is short — perhaps seventy years, perhaps less — and you have lived for thousands of years….

When I say this to my patient he cocks his ears and looks at me.

'No,' I say, I am not that man.  But that man speaks to you every night.  How?  In your dreams.'Aborigine Rock Art for Vibrant Jung Thing (2)

The psyche is much older than our personal existence.  The Self is a present reality if we are prepared to look for its manifestations in our own life.  Carl Jung knew it, and we can, too.

In my next post, I'll be continuing my series "Therapy: Pain Killer or Path to Myself", of which I've already published PART ONE and PART TWO.

I wish each of you every good thing on your personal journey to wholeness,

Brian Collinson,


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Something New on My Blog: Quotations from Carl Jung

February 22nd, 2009 · Carl Jung, depth psychology, Jungian analysis, Jungian psychology

Jung picture Recently, I've been thinking of adding something to the "Vibrant Jung Thing" blog.  My idea is to post some quotations from Carl Jung that I or my clients have found particularly valuable in our personal journeys.  I might also include some quotations from other Jungian psychologists.

My particular approach to psychotherapy has been very influenced by Jung and his ideas on the nature of the Self the unconscious and individuation.  I certainly think that some of the things that he wrote or said are extremely relevant for those of us on our journey today.

I think that I'm going to try this for a while, and I would really appreciate your feedback as to whether you find these types of quotations meaningful.  As always, I would really welcome any comments that you might have.

Wishing each of you all the very best on your personal journey,

Scanned image from Man and His Symbols, Carl G. Jung, ed., New York: Doubleday Anchor Books, 1964.  This is an excellent book which introduces Jung's ideas in a particularly vivid way.

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Therapy: Pain-Killer or Path To Myself? PART TWO

February 16th, 2009 · anger, depression, depth psychology, Identity, Individuation, Jungian analysis, Jungian psychology, Psychotherapy, soul, The Self, wholeness

Country Road for Therapy in Vibrant Jung Thing 

This is the second part in my series "Therapy: Pain-Killer or Path to Myself?"  PART ONE appeared last week.  In this second part, I discuss some things from my own experience of therapy throughout the years, and in particular,




These are five particular insights that have often kept me moving forward and that have sustained me at times when I got discouraged or perhaps even felt like leaving my therapy.  Time and time again they have proven themselves true as I have sought to understand myself and to keep moving forward on my therapeutic journey.

1.  The Psyche Fundamentally Wants to Heal Itself.

There is something within each of us that strives to unify all the parts of ourselves, and that seeks to bring all our wounded aspects back into healing and acceptance.  At times we can experience a sense of despair at our own broken-ness, and it can feel like the parts of ourselves where we experience pain can never feel better.  But if I can face my pain and grief, if I can really experience how I've been hurt, and if I can be open to the unconscious, not only as obstacle, but as the source of my own healing, I can begin to find, not any kind of "perfection", but an acceptance of who I am in my totality.  This experience of our totality is the experience of the Self.

2.  Better to Relate to the Unconscious than to be its Victim

Whether you are aware of it or not, the unconscious is an active factor in your life.  It is always acting in relationship to consciousness.  Also, it is often trying to get the conscious mind to adopt attitudes or to come to different new kinds of awareness that align with what is in the unconscious.  Sometimes being unaware of the unconscious and its intentions can lead to very negative consequences.  I have certainly been aware of people who have been sabotaged by the unconscious in some dramatic ways, often through rage that they didn't understand.  For some very pragmatic reasons, struggling to make unconscious materials conscious can be a very prudent thing to do.

3.  The Truth Will Set You Free – but First, Things May Get Demanding

It can be hard when what has been in the unconscious finally does come into consciousness.  Even though things may have been painful in my life in important ways, when the awareness of that pain really comes to stand front and center in my awareness, the pain can seem far worse than I had ever experienced.  But if we can tolerate, rather than run from the pain and the intensity of feeling, it will bring us to new kinds of awareness and new attitudes to our lives.  And that means more wisdom and more freedom. The pain doesn't mean that the therapy isn't working — it means that it is.

4.  What Am I Really Yearning For?

"And I still haven't found what I'm looking for" goes the chorus of an old U2 song.  But how can I find what it is that I'm looking for, if I don't know what it is that I'm really yearning to find?  Often, I can't know what I'm yearning for, until I know more of who I am.  More often than not, the only real way to greater self-knowledge of this kind is through therapy.

5.  There is Someone in Me Who is Trying to Emerge

The reality of the Self is the emergence of my awareness of everything that I am.  For the whole of my life, all the various elements of myself are striving to be brought together in one unified whole.  That wholeness is human, and so has nothing to do with perfection, moral or otherwise.  But the thing that draws me on through life is this pull toward the unified and unique me.  That is the goal of individuation, the name Jung gave to the process that goes on continuously within me.  Something is calling my name: it is my own being, my Self.  Throughout my life, I'm either moving towards wholeness or away from it.  Beyond the end of the road of therapy, the Self beckons.

My next and final post in this three-part series will on "Some Common Roadblocks on the Path toDreamstime_535654[1] Myself."  I would welcome your comments on any of the parts of this series.  How do these issues resonate with you?  What's your experience?


Brian Collinson, ;


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Therapy: Pain-Killer or Path To Myself? PART ONE

February 8th, 2009 · Anxiety, depression, depth psychology, Individuation, Meaning, The Self

Painkiller For Therapy Vibrant Jung BlogPeople are most commonly motivated to come into therapy or counseling because they are in serious distress or pain.  I know that's what motivated me to start on my own therapeutic journey many years ago.

Often, it's only intolerable pain that can bring someone to the point where she or he is ready and able to go and sit with a therapist and start talking about the intimate aspects of his or her life.  It seems as if it is often only our pain that can bring us to the point where we are willing to entrust someone else with our own intimate and unique story.

So let's imagine that, bringing my pain, and no doubt with some fear and misgivings, I make my first appointment, and I start to go to therapy.  And perhaps I find that the therapy helps to some degree.  Perhaps some of my anxiety or depression abates.  I find that the process of talking about the situations in my life, the things that make me anxious, the things that make me depressed brings me some relief.  And after perhaps a few weeks, I start to actually feel somewhat better.

Often this can be a moment when it's easy to believe that the things that brought me into therapy have largely gone away.  There can be a sense of freedom and relief.  Things can feel good enough that my previous pain starts to feel rather distant.  Then the other priorities of life start to seem more urgent and to crowd in, and I get caught up in the old rhythms of my life.  Soon I am back, living basically as I've always lived.  Underneath the surface, the same old issues remain, and if I am honest with myself, the patterns that have governed my life are starting to fall back into place and to re-assert themselves.

Sometimes it can even feel like something is pulling me back into these patterns that are well-Path for Vibrant Jung Thing Blogknown to me and which are, in a sense, comfortable.  Those patterns may not give me any relief from my misery, but they are at least familiar, and there is a certain kind of comfort expressed by the old saying "better the devil you know than the devil you don't."  In circumstances like that, people can end up learning to ignore their pain, in favour of feeling secure.

It's easy for me to choose the status quo over going on my personal journey.  But who we most fundamentally are continues to call to us.  In Jung's great words, to which I find myself continually going back, "Only that which is truly oneself, heals."  It's only in having the on-going courage and strength to confront the different aspects of myself that I am going to find the awareness and energy that really transform my life and make my living meaningful.

This is the first part of my series on "Therapy: Pain-Killer or Path to Myself?"  I hope that you've enjoyed it, and I invite you to share your comments.  I'll be posting more on this topic in the very near future.

Wishing all of you the very best on your journey to wholeness,

Brian Collinson


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