Journeying Toward Wholeness

Vibrant Jung Thing Blog

Can We Think From the Heart?

May 22nd, 2009 · inner life, Jungian psychology, The Self, wholeness

Here’s something that Jung writes in Memories, Dreams andWhere Do You Think for Vibrant Jung Thing Blog  Reflections that might seem to hit you right where you live.  That’s the effect it has on me, certainly.

It comes out of the time that Jung spent amongst the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico in the 1920s, where he became a friend of Ochway Biano, the chief of the Taos pueblos.  In recording the following conversation with Ochway Biano, and reflecting upon it, Jung may have been far in advance of his time:

“See” Ochway Biano said, “how cruel the whites look.  Their lips are thin, their noses sharp, their faces furrowed and distorted by folds.  Their eyes have a staring expression; they are always seeking something.  What are they seeking?  The whites always want something; they are always uneasy and restless.  We do not know what they want.  We do not understand them.  We think that they are mad.”

I asked him why he thought the whites were all mad. 

“They say that they think with their heads,” he replied.

“Why of course.  What do you think with?” I asked him in surprise.

“We think here,” he said, indicating his heart. [Italics mine]

I fell into a long meditation.  For the first time in my life, so it seemed to me, someone had drawn me a picture of the real white man.  It was as though until now I had seen nothing but sentimental, prettified color prints. This Indian had struck our vulnerable spot, unveiled a truth to which we are blind.

What would it be like to think with the heart, rather than the head?  What thoughts would your heart have, if you let it, right now, in this moment?

“The whites always want something.  They are always uneasy and restless.”  So often, we feel that what we’re we’re looking for is something external, something that we need, but we aren’t at all sure what it is.  Could it be that what you or I are desiring is actually something internal, something within us, that we haven’t explored yet?  Something of the heart?

Can I establish a dialogue with my inmost self, my heart?  What does it say to me?  What does it feel?

As always I welcome the comments of those who read, and any suggestions or possible topics that you might have.  Thank you for taking the time to read  my postings!


My very best wishes to you on your individual journey to wholeness,

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist and Jungian Analyst

Website for Brian’s Oakville and Mississauga Practice: 


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© 2009 Brian Collinson    

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The Mirror of Relationship

May 18th, 2009 · Carl Jung, depression, depth psychology, Identity, Individuation, life passages, Meaning, midlife, Psychotherapy, Relationships, soul, The Self, unlived life, wholeness

Mirror of Relationships for Vibrant Jung Thing He woke up one day, and realized that he didn't recognize his marriage, his partner or himself.  He realized that things had gone on in a certain way for years and years, but that for a long time now, he had just been going through the motions.  

Certainly, he loved his kids, now in their early teens, and was a very giving parent.  He knew he wanted good things for them, was prepared to make all kinds of sacrifices for them, and could not bear the thought of hurting them.  Outside of the relationship with the kids, though, what was there that remained positive, or that had any life in it?

He thought of his wife and felt that he had nothing in common with her anymore.  It was almost painful these days to spend time together.  She seemed so different from the woman that he had been in love with, all those years ago.  He could remember how thrilled he had been to be with her, to share things with her, and just to talk early in their relationship.  It had been so intoxicating!  But now there was little that they enjoyed doing together.

With pangs of sharp feeling, he realized that he himself had changed.  The young adult "keener" who had worked so hard to supply all the material things, and who had sought to advance himself any way he could had disappeared now.  In that person`s place was someone who among other things, realized that he was not immortal, and who wanted the things that he did with his life and his time to count — to be meaningful to him.  And right now what he was experiencing in his relationship was not meaningful, and was not making him feel good that he was alive.

The experience of this man is not uncommon.  He could just as easily be a woman, or a partner in a gay or lesbian relationship.  In our current world of shifting relationships, people are now often much readier to acknowledge when relationships and marriages are no longer working.  This is not to say that such awareness comes easily: it may often be a very difficult matter for a partner when they finally have to admit to themselves that their relationship, once so full of hope, is now a shell of its former self.

When such awareness dawns, there is usually no going back from it.  It may be that the couple concerned will end their relationship, or it may be that the relationship will change dramatically  One thing that you can be very sure of: the relationship that used to exist has outlived itself, and is dead and gone. Something new, either within or without the relationship, must now emerge.


1.  Who has changed in the relationship?  Me?  My partner?  Both of us?

2.   How did I see my partner when we first got together?  What attracted me to my partner?  How do I see my partner now?

3.  Do I see my partner realistically?  What are the aspects of him/her that I don't acknowledge, or that I don't understand?

4.  Are there aspects of myself that I see in my partner.  Are there aspects of anyone else that I recognize in him or her.

5.  What am I really yearning for in relationship.

Dreamstime_573697 The journey of therapy very often starts in the crucible of relationship, or leads through it.  In many different ways, relationship can catalyze a deeper connection with the depths of the self.

Thank you to clients and readers alike who have shared with me aspects of their lives in relationship over the years.  As always I welcome readers comments ànd I thank you for taking the time to read.

My very best wishes to you on your individual journey to wholeness,

Brian Collinson

Website for Brian's Oakville and Mississauga Practice: 


Get "Vibrant Jung Thing" posts delivered to your email using the "FeedBurner" box in the left column!

PHOTO CREDITS:  © Playboots | © Kristian Peetz |

© 2009 Brian Collinson    

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Is the Unconscious Mind My Fate?

May 9th, 2009 · the unconscious mind, unconscious

A number of readers have asked me about a certain quotation, and so I thought that I would write something about it.  The quotation is short, but it contains some important things.  Jung writes:

“The psychological rule says that when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside, as fate.  That is to say, when the individual remains undivided and does not become conscious of his inner opposite, the world must perforce act out the conflict and be torn into opposing halves.”

 C, G. Jung, in Aion, CW 9ii

Jung is here writing about the shadow and the unconscious, and he is opening up for us My Unconscious My Fate for Vibrant Jung Thing Blogthe psychological situation in which an individual remains unaware of his or her unconscious motivations and attitudes, and of that whole part of ourselves which is unacceptable or unacknowledged by the ego.

Take the example of someone who is unaware that they have certain unconscious characteristics.  Perhaps those characteristics draw that person into relationships with people who take advantage of them, or who are hopelessly emotionally unapproachable.  The person might go through relationship after relationship, repeating the pattern of attraction and ending up in relationships that are hurtful and destructive.  

Let’s imagine that the person goes through several situations, and, despite the painful nature of such experiences, fails to gain insight as to why he or she always ends up in relationships that end badly.  The person might experience it as “just my luck to always end up in rotten relationships”, or even to feel that “life has it in for me”.  It would feel like fate, something inevitable and ruthless that just “keeps going on and on in my life”, about which I can do nothing.  How grim!

But what if the key to a different outcome lies in the unconscious part of the person’s personality?  If the person could bring that insight into awareness, and alterMy Unconscious My Fate 2 for Vibrant Jung Thing Blog  their relationships as a result?  Then what had previously seemed like “just my lot in life” could be changed

There are things that lie in the unconscious that lock us into certain patterns.  If we can make them conscious, if we can become conscious of our “inner opposite”, the part of ourselves that may even be in complete opposition to what we say is our motivation or our attitude, then we could escape what seems like fate, and find a new relationship to ourselves and to the outer world.

Are there patterns in your life that you seem “fated” to repeat over and over?  What might you learn by opening these areas of your life up to fuller insight and awareness?  Such questions are at the heart of the journey of therapy.

I wish each of you who reads this a new and deeper relationship with the Shadow, that unacknowledged “inner opposite”, who so often contains what we need for our healing.

Thank you to those who wrote to me, asking me about this particularly insightful quotation.  As always I welcome your comments.

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May 3rd, 2009 · archetypal experience, depth psychology, inner life, Jungian analysis, Jungian psychology, Meaning, soul, The Self, unlived life

Fantasies for Vibrant Jung Blog So often the word “fantasy” is treated as a negative term.  After all, aren’t we supposed to be realistic, and practical, and down-to-earth?  How can our fantasies possibly help us to live our real lives?

 Well, Jung has some interesting things to say on this topic, including the following, which is about the role of fantasy at mid-life and later:

“Then, with the beginning of your life’s second part, inexorably a change imposes itself, subtly at first but with ever-increasing weight.  Whatever you have acquired hitherto is no longer the same as you regarded it when it still lay before you — it has lost something of its charm, its splendor and its attractiveness.  What was once an adventurous effort has become routine.  Even flowers wilt, and it is hard to discover something perennial that will endure.  Looking back slowly becomes a habit, no matter how much you detest and try to suppress it…

“The backwards look will not fail to show you sides and aspects of yourself long forgotten and other ways of life you have missed or avoided before.  The more your actual life becomes routine and habit, the less it will be satisfactory. [Italics mine]

“Soon unconscious fantasies begin to play with other possibilities and these can become quite troublesome unless they are made conscious in time.  They may be mere regressions into childhood, which prove to be most unhelpful when one is confronted with the difficult task of creating a new goal for an aging life.  If one has nothing to look forward to except the habitual things, life cannot renew itself any more.  It gets stale, it congeals and petrifies, like Lot’s wife who could not detach her eyes from the things hitherto valued. Yet these insipid fantasies may also contain germs of real new possibilities or of new goals worthy of attainment.  There are always things ahead, and despite all the overwhelming power of the historical pattern they are never quite the same.  [Italics mine]”

So, for Jung, our “insipid fantasies” are not at all devoid of value — if we really work with them to make them conscious.  They may in fact contain the vital clues for us to the way to move forward in our lives.  Sometimes these fantasies can seem childish, or useless — so much so that we dismiss them.  Perhaps we have been told, or have told ourselves, that our longing or our fantasy has no value, that we are silly even to entertain it.  We may have gotten this message so strongly that we even find it difficult to find our fantasies or to experience them — so rigourously does the internal schoolmaster/critic discipline us to “keep out nose to the grindstone.”

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