Journeying Toward Wholeness

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Jungian Therapy, Individuation & Dealing with Feeling

November 24th, 2011 · Feeling, Individuation, Jungian, Jungian therapy, therapy

Jungian therapy

In Jungian therapy, discovering feeling is often a key to individuation, the discovery of our individual identity.  What we feel is part of what makes us human; discovering our own unique feeling is often an important path to ourselves.

Feeling gets a bad rap in our culture.  We see reason as more dependable, consistent, even, dispassionate.  But without this dimension, would we even be human?

What is feeling, really?

  • A Unique Way of Taking in Reality

For Jungian therapy, one of the basic ways that we take in both internal and external reality is through what we feel.  We often devalue it.  Nonetheless it is real, and impacts our lives at a very deep level.  Some of the most powerful things that can happen to a person happen through what is felt.

  • As Important and Real as Thinking

Feeling and thinking are both fundamental ways in which we take in, and interact with, the world.  Thinking evaluates things rationally, or logically.  Feeling evaluates things in terms of our judgement of “how we feel” about things, whether we are positively or negatively disposed toward them, and why.

  •  Broader than Just Emotion

However, what we feel is not identical with affect or emotion.  We can feel something without having an emotion, although emotion itself contains feeling.

  • Non-Rational

That which is felt is not irrational, as if it were an illogical argument.  You cannot evaluate it using thinking, or vice versa.  For Jungian therapy, feeling brings a whole different type of understanding into the picture than does thinking and rationality — a whole new colour.

William Blake (1757 – 1827) was a profound poet and artist of imagination and depth.  His poem “And did Those Feet in Ancient Time” proclaims feeling and soul in the midst of the British industrial revolution, a time that,  like ours, denied the value of what we feel and exclusively exalted reason.  When he writes of England’s “dark satanic mills”, he is not referring to manufacturing, but to the inhuman character of reason cut off from felt reality — a real and present danger in our own time.  Blake yearns to be in touch with its power and reality:

Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!

 

May we live in the reality of feeling and of our own “arrows of desire”, on our personal journey towards individuation.

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PHOTO: © Senai Aksoy | Dreamstime.com
MUSIC: “Blake’s Jerusalem”, Billy Bragg © 2006  Outside Music  All Rights Reserved.
© 2011 Brian Collinson
2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, ON (near Mississauga

 

 

 

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Jungian Therapy, Stress Reduction & Perfectionism

November 17th, 2011 · Jungian, Jungian therapy, perfectionism, stress, stress reduction

stress reduction

There is a clear link between stress reduction and perfectionism, when these two things are viewed from the perspective of Jungian therapy.

Roots of Perfectionistic Stress

Often perfectionism and much associated stress are rooted in complexes, those “knots” or “eddies” of feeling toned energy in our minds, that often have their roots in traumatic occurrences.

 Never Enough

Often, the negative side of the father, mother or family complexes can lead to a continual sense that whatever we do or produce is not enough.  Another factor in the continual striving to make what we do better can be the shadow, which is the sum total of all those aspects of ourselves that we don’t wish to acknowledge.  Our anxiety about these unacknowledged aspects of ourselves can drive us to strive ever more relentlessly to try to cover our weakness and imperfection.

Unrealistic expectations for ourselves are rooted in a lack of willingness to accept our own fundamental nature, with its particular strengths and weaknesses. This is a kind of pride.

The Sisyphus Agenda

In Greek myth, because of his pride, Sisyphus is eternally condemned to push a heavy rock up to the top of a mountain.  He never can finish the task, and the rock continually rolls back downhill, and must be raised again. The eternal exhaustion and frustration of Sisyphus are an apt image for the struggle and stress of perfectionism.

Often, our own perfectionism can have this feeling of an endlessly wearing, endlessly frustrating ordeal.  I know I have rolled the rock of perfectionism up the endlessly defeating hill more than a time or two in the past!

Accepting Ourselves and the World

Recently, a Facebook friend, Paulette Turcotte, posted “Anthem” by Leonard Cohen on her wall.  The song is a remarkable commentary on perfectionism, and on our need to accept the shadowy and broken dimensions of life.

Cohen’s lyrics are profoundly expressive:

Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack, a crack in everything…

That’s how the light gets in, that’s how the light gets in

We don’t get perfection in this life, either inside of ourselves, or outside.  If we can accept this, and have some compassion for ourselves, then perhaps we can make some peace with the demands that we make on ourselves, and equally importantly, set appropriate boundaries for the demands that others make on us.

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PHOTO:  © All rights reserved by New Visions2010
VIDEO:  “Anthem”, by Leonard Cohen © 2011 Sony Music Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

 

© 2011 Brian Collinson
2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, ON (near Mississauga

 

 

 

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Individual Psychotherapy & Hope: 4 Jungian Truths

November 10th, 2011 · Hope, individual, individual psychotherapy, Jungian, Psychology and Suburban Life, Psychotherapy

individual psychotherapy
Hope is key to individual psychotherapy — especially for the Jungian therapist.  It is always true that the hope of the client is going to be essential to the healing process of the psyche.  But, especially in an age like ours, with the continual struggle that many face to keep hope alive, hope becomes even more crucial.

1)  Hope from Within, Not Without

We tend to look outward for hope, to external realities.  However, the truth is, that we will not be able to experience a sense of hope from outer events, unless we first experience hope within ourselves, in the form of some new possibility for being.  If we can meet possibilities in ourselves — for real feeling, for love, for a deepened sense of self-esteem, for living some hitherto unlived form of life — then we can begin to trust and hope outwardly.

2)  I have a Unique Individual Identity; Others See That I’m Real

One of the deep changes that can come through individual psychotherapy can come from the reality of feeling listened to, and truly “seen” as we are.  As we experience ourselves through the other, we can come to realize that what we are is unique and unrepeatable.  I realize that “I” exist: that there is a wholeness, a reality and a persistence to me.

3)  The Self is Greater than the Ego

Not only is there a reality, a substantiality to me, I am also greater than I know.  I am greater than my idea of myself.  Outside of my conscious self  is the vastness of the unconscious self, full of aspects of my being that are yet to be explored, the realm of dream, myth and symbol.  When I can enter a dialogue with this vast inner sea, and discover how it responds to, and is connected with, my conscious self, there is a sense that, as Walt Whitman put it, “I am large; I contain worlds.”

individual psychotherapy

4) The Psyche Has the Inner Wisdom to Heal Itself

The vast reality of psyche is revealed in dreams and other manifestations.  In ways often unknown to me, psyche is striving to solve its own dilemmas, and to heal itself.  Part of me, hidden from consciousness, knows how to begin to heal itself, and knows where it is going.  The challenge of individual psychotherapy is to unlock that inner wisdom of the self, and to move in harmony with it.

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PHOTO:  © All rights reserved by mosaicmuse(Valerie)
© 2011 Brian Collinson
2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, ON (near Mississauga

 

 

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Individual Therapy & Dismantling the “Mid Life Crisis”

November 1st, 2011 · individual therapy, midlife, midlife crisis, Psychology and Suburban Life

individual therapy

Person overboard?

The term “mid life crisis” is a cliche in our society, which individual therapy must sometimes deconstruct.  Don’t get me wrong: a tremendous amount does happen to us at midlife.  But it isn’t usually the ridiculous caricature referred to in our society as a “mid life crisis.”

In that stereotype, the individual has a difficult period in the middle of life centering around regret for the passage of youth.  As a result, he or she goes “off the rails” for a time, possibly years, and then gradually “comes back to normal”, once again accepting his or her lot in life.

But is that actually how it goes for people?

A “Mid Life Crisis” Isn’t Necessarily a Crisis

It’s far better to refer to a midlife transition.  What the stereotype misses is that you don’t “come back to normal” from this process.  Something deep and profound starts at midlife, and then keeps going on through the entire second half of life.  And what starts might not be a crisis at all: it may just be a profound transformation, as an individual fundamentally re-evaluates his or her life.

Deconstructing the “Mid Life Crisis”

Articles abound now with titles like “10 Signs of a Mid Life Crisis”.  Such lists miss the point that mid life transition is very individual indeed.  There are no checklists that you can tick off to see if you “have it”, or “how you’re progressing”.  It’s a very personal and individual search for what will last in life as youth and even mature adulthood give way to the older years: an individual answer to the question, “What really matters — to me?”

Midlife Transition, and Beyond

As the life journey progresses, a person’s values may start to be less conventional.  While socially sanctioned goals for family, career and success may have held a lot of importance at earlier stages in life, the emphasis starts shifting to what it is that really matters to the individual.

Beyond the Security of False Identity

Conventional fixed, socially recognized identities seem to offer security.  An identity like “I’m an accountant”, or, “I’m an athletic parent” gives the sense of permanence, and stability.  But underneath, there is always the question, “Who am I, really?”,  and the sense that there is a great deal more of me that I need to get to know.  Often individual therapy is a key part of this journey, and this adventure, in the second half of life.

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PHOTO:  © Kentannenbaum | Dreamstime.com
© 2011 Brian Collinson
2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, ON (near Mississauga)

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