Journeying Toward Wholeness

Vibrant Jung Thing Blog

Grief Counselling, Bereavement & Jack Layton

August 27th, 2011 · bereavement, counselling, grief, grief counselling

grief counselling

The sad early passing of beloved Canadian political leader Jack Layton teaches us much about bereavement and grief counselling as archetypal experience.   Millions felt personally connected to Jack.  His warmth, deep personal conviction and love of Canadians made him a beloved figure on our political landscape.

We feel deep sadness and personal loss at his sudden decline and passing.  As a nation, we have experienced some of the key characteristics of grief reactions.

1) Even if Foreseen, Grief is an Incredible Shock

We saw Jack Layton on TV when he stepped aside in July.  We must have been aware that he did not look like his former self, and was obviously a very sick man.  We really knew he would not turn over the reins of the NDP without an extremely good reason.  Yet we experience deep shock upon his passing.

This is characteristic when people lose a loved one.  When the reality finally hits, we are absolutely stunned.  It’s incredibly hard to accept that the loved one is actually gone.  We find ourselves saying, “You know, I just keep expecting him/her to come through that door at any moment.”

2) We’re Outraged by Death

We feel outrage in the face of death, when someone passes at an age that seems far too young, as with Jack Layton, aged 61.  On a level that I believe is archetypal, we have a sense of what is a complete or full life.  When someone dies before that time, we feel that it is bitterly wrong.  It should somehow have been different.

3) We Want to Do Something — but We Don’t Know What

The death of a loved one fills us with a sense of powerlessness, even despair.  We’re overwhelmed with the desire to do something to make it better, to remove the sense of loss.  But there seems so little that concretely can be done. The loved one’s absence is so formidible and so unavoidable.

4) Finding Meaning in the Life of the Loved One — and Our Own

With time, we begin to find ongoing value and meaning in the life of the lost loved one.  We realize the ways in which we still carry the loved one within us, and how that brings meaning.  Through recall and ritual, we find ways to keep the person’s memory alive.

So it will be for us, remembering, celebrating and living out the spirit of Jack Layton, a man who, now forever, is “Le Bon Jack“.

PHOTO: ©  All rights reserved by thankyougravity
© 2011 Brian Collinson
2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

 

→ 6 Comments

Jungian Psychotherapy & Career Transition in Tough Times

August 21st, 2011 · career, career transition, Jungian, Jungian psychotherapy

career transition

Career transition is directly connected to Jungian psychotherapy because career and vocation are matters of importance to the inmost self.  This is especially true of career transition in economic times of crisis, when people face hard situations and hard choices.  Tough times push us back onto questions about the real meaning in our lives.


The movie “Company Men” opens up these issues in a hard-hitting way.  It focuses on a group of upper middle class and upper class men downsized from “GTX”, a heavy manufacturing company in Boston.  The film powerfully takes us into the “soul” issues surrounding forced career transition.  And it illustrates some bedrock realities.

 

1) I am Not My Career; I am Not My Social Status

It’s incredibly easy to become completely identified with a job and a social status.  Over years, we can get so invested in a particular job and lifestyle, that we feel like these things actually are us.  When the men undergo career transition, it ‘s an incredibly violent blow, and they are caught up in rage and denial.  They are forced to find their way into a different, more fundamental understanding of individual identity.

2) The Corporation (or Other Employer) Does Not Love Me

“GTX” makes large scale layoffs with little regard for the dedication or devoted labour of long-term employees.  Often, this is how layoffs occur, and often people are psychologically unprepared for it.  We tend to assume that the close personal contacts at the firm, or supportive or “team” language are expressions of real human warmth.  But it’s essential to let in a fundamental truth: my employer does not recognize that I have any right to my current position.

3) What is my Vocation?  And How Does it Fit with What I do for a Living?

Behind the above issues looms a larger question.  What am I here for?  What does my nature tell me that I really need to do with my life?  And how does all that fit with the kind of thing that I do (or want to do) for a living?

4) What about My Journey?

Amidst these issues, it’s essential to see my life as a journey toward my own individual nature.  My journey, my vocation, is bigger and deeper than what I do for a living.  Connecting with this journey is the real meaning of depth psychotherapy.

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

 

 

 

 

→ 1 Comment

Jungian Therapy for Anxiety & Times of Crisis: 5 Truths

August 14th, 2011 · crisis, Jungian, Jungian therapy, therapy, therapy for anxiety, times of crisis

therapy for anxiety

In times of crisis like these, with financial panic and other factors, some important truths emerge from the practice of Jungian therapy, depth psychotherapy, and therapy for anxiety.   Here are some key learnings important for resilience — and for getting through — in times like these.

1.  Acknowledge Your Emotions

This is key to consciousness of ourselves, in Jungian therapy terms.  Also, attempting to deny feelings and be stoic in demanding times only increases anxiety and stress loading.  Much better to be forthright with yourself about what you’re feeling.  Psychotherapy can provide a supportive container for this.

2.  Current Crises Activate Old Feelings

Going through instability and volatility in the present, we may vividly re-experience old memories and feelings of difficult or crisis times undergone in the past.  It is important to realize that much anxiety and emotion may stem from the ways in which the situation “hooks” our memories of earlier situations (e.g., 9/11 , 2008 crisis , personal crises).

3.  Limit Exposure to Anxiety Provokers

In crisis situations we seek reassurance.  We may seek out modern media as information sources to get it, but then find that, by their nature, the media do the opposite, and elevate our anxiety.  It may make sense to limit your exposure to news media or other anxiety amplifiers, if you possibly can.

4.  In Crises, the Archetypal Often Emerges

Often, in times of high stress and emotion, the unconscious becomes particularly active.  This may be an important time to be aware of dreams and other content from the unconscious.  It may shed a significantly different perspective on what is going on than your everyday conscious awareness.  Depth psychotherapy like Jungian therapy may well help in integrating this material into your life.

5.  Hang onto Your Individuality

In times of crisis it’s easy for strong feeling or affect  to make people lose their individuality, and be overcome by a herd mentality.  Just this week, we have seen the panic in financial markets and the London riots.  But it’s essential both for our own well-being and conscious awareness of ourselves as individuals that we hold onto ourselves, and avoid merging with the herd.  That’s the way we stay human.
My best wishes to you for resilience, as we all live and move through and beyond these challenging times.

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

1-905-337-3946

PHOTO: © All rights reserved by chee_hian/
© 2011 Brian Collinson
2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

 

 

→ No Comments

Therapy, Personal Growth & Self Knowledge …Really?

August 8th, 2011 · growth, personal growth, Self, self-knowledge, therapy

personal growth

Many speak about therapy and/or psychotherapy as a route to personal growth and self knowledge, but can it really deliver? That depends a lot on the kind of therapy, the attitude of the person undertaking it, and the knowledge and attitude of the therapist.

The famous passage quoted below illustrates this very well.

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

Chapter 1

I walk down the street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I fall in.

I am lost … I am helpless.

It isn’t my fault.

It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter 2

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I pretend I don’t see it.

I fall in again.

I can’t believe I am in the same place.

But, it isn’t my fault.

It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter 3

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I see it is there.

I still fall in … it’s a habit.

My eyes are open.

I know where I am.

It is my fault.

I get out immediately.

Chapter 4

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I walk around it.

Chapter 5

I walk down another street.

from Portia Nelson, There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk , © Portia Nelson 1993

The good outcome in this story is due to three things.

1) Reflection

The author of the poem has the courage to look at what is going on in her life.  Not at first, because panic and confusion are in the driver’s seat.  But eventually, she faces the questions: “What is going on?’, “What caused this?”  And, actually, at an even more basic level, she’s able to admit that “I’m in a hole!”

2) Willingness to Honestly Look at Oneself

Gradually, the poem’s author is able to put down her knee-jerk self defense, and to clearly see her role in creating this situation.  She is able to do this with compassionate self acceptance.

3) Willingness to Put Insights Into Action

Once she has these insights, she acts on them and experiences personal growth.

Very often, these three steps need the fertile ground, compassion and support of the right therapy to best come into being.

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

1-905-337-3946

PHOTO: © All rights reserved by mfriel81
© 2011 Brian Collinson
2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

 

→ No Comments