Journeying Toward Wholeness

Vibrant Jung Thing Blog

Overwork and Workaholism, Part 2: Work and Soul

July 29th, 2011 · work, workaholism

This post continues the themes of overwork and workaholism .  It further explores some of the soul and feeling dimensions of overwork and workaholism through musical expression.

  • When You Know You Can’t Slow Down

One of the outstanding aspects of overwork and of workaholism, is a compulsive, potentially all-absorbing character.  It can take more and more of a person’s thoughts, and has a way of demanding more and more of a person’s waking hours and energies, as a person tries to meet ever-increasing inner and outer demands.  It can create a kind of tunnel vision in a person’s life that excludes all possible alternatives.  In this respect, it truly is like addiction.

Although it is 40 years old, there is probably no piece of music that captures this sense of uncontrolled driven-ness as well as Jethro Tull’s Locomotive Breath , with its image of a workaholic man’s life as an out-of-control locomotive hurtling down the track — “no way to slow down…“:

  • Disconnect

Another dimension of overwork and workaholism is what it does to a person’s sense of relationship and connection, especially to significant others.  That is, it has the capacity to profoundly disconnect.  I relate to the following music on a very personal level, as it keenly reminds me of the workaholism of my own father.  It’s also an insightful comment on the way that workaholism can get passed down through the generations — “The Cat’s in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin:

On the feeling level, both of these pieces of music convey something very powerful about the emotional and relationship cost of overwork and workaholism.  The overidentification with the work role is a very dangerous fusion with the false self.  Or, as Jungians would say, it is selling out your true self for the sake of persona, in the hope that love and positive self regard can be found in this way.  This locomotive starts rolling slowly, and just gradually picks up speed, until we are hurtling along on something demonic that we have no idea how to stop.  If you’re the engineer on this ride, it’s time to get help to make it better.

In your experience, when does work contribute to self-realization, and when does it take away? I’d welcome your comments.

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst | Oakville, Burlington and Mississauga Ontario

[cta]

 

1-905-337-3946

PHOTO: © Yuri Arcurs | Dreamstime.com
© 2011 Brian Collinson
2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

 

→ No Comments

Individual Therapy, Overwork & Workaholism

July 22nd, 2011 · individual, individual therapy, overwork, therapy, workaholism

workaholism

There is a real difference between overwork and workaholism, and it makes a real difference to the issues that arise in individual therapy.  Both of these things are way too prevalent in our culture, but they are not the same.

  • Differences Between Overwork and Workaholism

Workaholism has an obsessive-compulsive, addictive character.  Workaholics often think continuously about work, and often use work as a way of avoiding pain or hardship — or intimacy — in other areas of life.  But someone may be subject to overwork, without any of these things being true.

  • Workaholics Overwork; Overworkers May Not be Workaholics

Workaholics do overwork, in terms of hours and/or effort put into work.  They are part of the general epidemic of overwork in our society.  In our culture, an increasing percentage of people work themselves into sickness, premature old age, even death, through work related stress.  Both the workaholic, who feels an inner compulsion to work, and the person who works harder and harder out of fear of job loss, form part of this picture of ever-increasing overwork — both often need individual therapy and burnout treatment.

  • Workaholism and Overwork May Feel Productive, but Actually Aren’t

Often those compelled to overwork in short bursts for specific goals feel that their additional work is effective and productive.  Workaholics may also feel this, but we know that they are wrong.  It may feel like more is getting done, as endless hours that are put in, but studies show clearly that, with increasing hours, productivity is declining.

  • Both Overwork and Workaholism Can Keep Life From Being Meaningful

Work is ultimately only meaningful and satisfying if life overall is meaningful.  Both the self-imposed, compulsively avoidant working of the workaholic, and the oppressively imposed burdens of the overwork culture can deprive life of much of its real meaning.  From a Jungian perspective, the goal of life is to find those things in life that are genuinely meaningful to the unique individual.  To acheive that requires a life in which there is meaningful work life balance in combination with other vital endeavours that each person’s unique being requires of him or her.  Often Jungian psychotherapy can play a key role in assisting the individual to reach this point.

What does genuinely meaningful work really mean to you? I’d welcome your comments.

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst | Oakville, Burlington and Mississauga Ontario

[cta]

1-905-337-3946

PHOTO: © Yuri Arcurs | Dreamstime.com
© 2011 Brian Collinson
2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

 

→ 2 Comments

Jungian Psychotherapy & Personal Growth

July 15th, 2011 · growth, individual psychotherapy, Jungian, Jungian psychotherapy, personal growth, Psychotherapy

personal growth

Personal growth isn’t something you hear Jungian psychotherapy speak about very much.  I got to really wondering, “Why not?  You hear it all the time from self-help gurus, etc.”  That got me thinking.  It’s not that depth psychotherapy opposes personal growth — far from it.  I think that the real reason is that what personal growth means from this perspective is very different from what lots of other people mean when they use the term.

“Personal growth” now has quite a conventional meaning — but the reality may be something rather different.

  • Real Personal Growth Isn’t What Everyone Expects

Often, when people talk about “personal growth”, you sense  that they have a very definite idea of what everyone has to do.  A definite roadmap that everybody has to follow.  Actually, growth is much more individual than that.  Each person has a unique path that they have to uncover and follow.  It’s not “what everyone expects“: it’s a very individual discovery.

  • True Growth is Not Ego Centred

Depth psychotherapists are wary of the “PG” phrase, fearing that people will think they refer to something that just involves the conscious mind and ego.  But real personal change involves more than an ego project, like “I will conquer my shyness and become a top salesperson”, or, “I will quit smoking”.  Real growth involves encountering parts of ourselves which we don’t acknowledge — and letting them change our self-perceptions, and our actions.

  • Personal Growth Involves Major Psychological Change

When people talk about “PG”, it often sounds like the change involved is measured and incremental.  But depth work can result in a major change of perspective, and a different relationship to the fundamental things in your life.

  • Personal Growth May Mean Never “Having It All Together”, but it Will Mean, Well… Growing!

In much self-help literature, you get the sense that, even though the author may not explicitly say so, there is a bright line distinction between those who have “arrived” at the new understanding / condition / awareness, and others.  Actually, it’s not that way.  There may be a distinction between those who are growing, and those who are not, but there is no “arrival”.  So long as we’re alive, we’re on a personal journey.

What does personal growth really mean to you? I’d welcome your comments.

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst | Oakville, Burlington and Mississauga Ontario

[cta]

1-905-337-3946

PHOTO: © Yuri Arcurs | Dreamstime.com
© 2011 Brian Collinson
2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

 

→ 1 Comment

Psychotherapy, Self Acceptance, & Dealing with Shame

July 10th, 2011 · dealing with shame, Psychotherapy, Self, self acceptance, shame

dealing with shame

This is really Part 2 of the post, “Jungian Psychotherapy, Individuation and Self Acceptance“, and deals with an important barrier to self acceptance, namely dealing with shame.

A lot could be said about our shame and how it thwarts self acceptance.

  • Shame is Deep: Maybe as Deep as it Gets

There is a power in this feeling, sometimes greater than in any other emotion.  We confront this power when our dignity is lost, when we have gone beyond the boundaries of what is acceptable or tolerable, when we are profoundly alienated from other humans because of who or what we are.

  • Shame and Fear of Total Loss of the Self

Deep shame can devastate.  It can be so intense as to obliterate any good feeling we have about who or what we are, and force us behind an ironclad mask.  Shame can be so intense we feel like we’re losing ourselves.

  • In Our Inner Dialogue, We Can Often Shame Ourselves

We powerfully internalize shaming that we have received.  I’ve noted this in psychotherapy for men, but it’s true for everyone.  Through the emotion in complexes, we can easily internalize shaming messages received from others.  This emotionally charged material can torment us.

  • Yet, We Can Find Our Humanity in our Shame

A strange thing  to say…  Yet, true if we can have the courage to explore those places where we are most vulnerable.

A good friend and co-worker died young from cancer.  I was asked to be a pallbearer.  Back then, I had strong unconscious inhibitions against males showing strong emotion, ground into me early in life.  Yet, bearing the coffin, I broke into uncontrollable tears.  I was filled with shame, but I couldn’t help it…I loved my friend, and tragically, he was gone.  Later, to make it worse, my boss (my friend’s friend and former boss) berated me for my “weakness”.  I felt like a selfish little baby.

It took psychotherapy and years of living with that humiliation to accept my vulnerable grief for my friend.  “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery” sings Bob Marley.  It was in the very heart of this shame that I found something vital to my humanity.

Is getting free from shame is a major issue for peoples’ lives today?  I’d welcome your comments.

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst | Oakville, Burlington and Mississauga Ontario

[cta]

1-905-337-3946

PHOTO: Auguste Rodin, Eve After the Fall, Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license
© 2011 Brian Collinson
2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

 

→ 3 Comments

Jungian Psychotherapy, Individuation and Self Acceptance

July 5th, 2011 · Individuation, Jungian, Jungian psychotherapy, Psychotherapy, Self, self acceptance

self acceptance

For many of us, self acceptance is the great challenge.  For Jungian psychotherapy, it basically is the individuation process.  Some Jungians will disagree, but really, all aspects of individuation, the heart of Jungian psychotherapy, are different aspects of this one great thing.

I find this quote from Jung so striking that I’ve sent it around Twitter a couple of times:

The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.

Also the most liberating, but to even get close to that place, there’s a lot we have to confront.

  • Accepting Ourselves Entails Knowing Who We Are

Oh, boy — not so simple!  We readily think that we know, and therefore accept, ourselves, but it’s not so clear when we truly look behind the mask that we present to the world.  To honestly look in that mirror — and the mirror that others hold up to reflect us — can take real courage.

  • Self Acceptance Means Dropping Self-Protecting Pretence

It’s not just seeing ourselves: it ‘s getting past the rationalizations we give ourselves about why we are as we are.  We also have to stop protecting ourselves from what the unconscious reveals about the self, in dreams, in psychosomatic and other forms, and stop intellectualizing it away.  We have to be willing to hear the cry of our deepest being, even when that cry might be something we’d rather not hear.

  • The Great Enemy: Shame

When we do honestly see ourselves, we can easily succumb to shame, seeing only faults, weaknesses and inadequacies, with no appreciation of our true worth.  I powerfully experienced this when I was a pallbearer at a friend’s funeral, as I’ll recount in Part 2 of this post.

  • It Takes Real Courage to Let Ourselves Be Enough

A  recent  Huffington Post article stresses the importance of being present to our lives here and now — letting what we possess be enough, and savouring it.  But it’s even more important to let what we are be enough.  No other being in the universe is going to be you.  To savour your life, recognizing with compassion and celebration your uniqueness, takes genuine bravery.

No one will ever have this moment you are having right now; it is uniquely yours.  Can you let yourself be sufficient?  Jung was right: it can be utterly terrifying — but it opens the way to a journey of incredible freedom.

Have you had experiences of freedom in self-acceptance?  I’d welcome your comments.

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst | Oakville, Burlington and Mississauga Ontario

[cta]

1-905-337-3946

PHOTO: AttributionNo Derivative WorksSome rights reserved by kimderby
© 2011 Brian Collinson
2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

 

→ No Comments