Journeying Toward Wholeness

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Jungian Therapy & the Second Half of Life, 4: Truth

March 26th, 2012 · Jungian, Jungian therapy, second half of life, truth

Jungian therapy

What can “truth” possibly have to do with Jungian therapy or the major life transitions in the second half of life?   “Truth” can seem very abstract.  Yet, in Jungian therapy, we become aware of the profound power of truth, not as something “flaky”, but as the numinous place where the individual encounters the realities of the deep self, or soul.  We’re talking existential truth.

When It Changes

In the second half of life, there are forks in the road, or turning points — “moments of truth”, some call them.   An individual may follow a certain path of life for all of adulthood, but then discover somewhere in the middle portion of life that this path won’t work anymore.  She simply cannot do the job, or stay in the relationship, or pretend to have a certain identity, any longer.  While it served well in the past, it will not any longer: the second half of life has caught up with her.

Truth and the Unavoidable

Some truths have an unavoidable character, and confrontation with the unavoidable often furthers the individuation process.  It can often be that attitudes or beliefs that we needed in the first half of life fall apart in the second half of life.

second half of life

Lasting Truth about Self and World

In the second half of life, we need to find some stable truth that is ours.  This is not a matter of adopting any old dogmatic belief willy-nilly, but rather finding the deep realizations that accord with the innermost self.  Sometimes this is called a  ” philosophy of life “, but is probably better called a “worldview”, because it has much profounder roots than the merely rational.

So what is my worldview, my deepest realization?  Some find this in organized religion, but today, many find that they need something beyond that, even though our deepest beliefs or sensibilities may well be felt to connect us with God, the ground of being or the universe.  Whatever this fundamental worldview is, it connects or resonates with who we most fundamentally are.

A Fundamental Integrity

This connection is what John Beebe calls integrity in depth.  Today, integrity is much maligned, often associated with conventional conformist “straight arrow” morality, of a puritanical nature.  But there is a way of living, a possibility of living, not rule-bound, that comes straight out of who one most fundamentally is.

The goal of Jungian therapy in the second half of life is to enable the individual to live out the truth that accords with his or her most fundamental nature.

PHOTOS:  Attribution Some rights reserved by Manoj Kengudelu and kevincole
© 2012 Brian Collinson

 

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Jungan Analysis & Overcoming Internet Addiction: 4 Keys

March 19th, 2012 · addiction, internet addiction, Jungian, Jungian analysis, overcoming internet addiction

depth psychotherapy
Overcoming Internet addiction is now a very real concern for many people, and Jungian analysis brings a perspective to this problem that offers hope and the possibility of finding an underlying meaning.  “Hold on a minute”, I hear you saying, “I can understand overcoming Internet addiction, but how could Jungian analysis find meaning in this kind of compulsive activity?”

First: Yes, Internet Addiction Actually Exists

There are many seeking help overcoming Internet addiction who know this.   Especially in Canada, online gaming, online gambling, social media and email, or Internet pornography are taking up more and more room in these peoples’ lives, and they can’t find a way to slow down or stop.  For them, overcoming Internet addiction is a priority, because something not under conscious control is in the driver’s seat.

2.  Signs of Internet Addiction

A person may be wrestling with internet addiction if:

  • Net use dominates his or her life and/or thoughts;
  • Net use modifies his or her  mood, or creates a “buzz”;
  • increasing Net use is needed to stay feeling good;
  • refraining from Net use causes unpleasant feeling or physical effects; or,
  • Net use creates conflict with those they are close to, or with their everyday life.

overcoming internet addiction

3.  Overcoming Internet Addiction: Insights from Jungian Analysis

The key issue in overcoming Internet addiction is determining what the Net is really providing to the individual, that brings him or her benefit.  It is at this point that a perspective drawn from Jungian analysis brings real insight.

If we look at the compulsive Net user, we see a hunger and a yearning at the heart of his or her usage.  Jung, in his letter to Bill W., described this as “the equivalent, on a low level, of the spiritual thirst of our being for wholeness.”  In our restless searching and exchanges on the Net, we yearn for something to bring us to a sense of being whole and complete.  We are only going to get past unending searching on the Net, if we find something real, that makes us feel alive — that moves us toward fulfillment, and away from anxiety.

4.  Jungian Analysis & Wholeness

For Jungian analysis, wholeness is not the same as perfection.  We can have experiences that make us feel fully aware and alive — whole.  How this happens for each of us is a very individual matter; often only the depth explorations of individual therapy will reveal what these unique, life-giving realities are for each of us.

PHOTOS:  Attribution Some rights reserved by olga.palma and entirelysubjective
© 2012 Brian Collinson

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Jungian Therapy & the Second Half of Life, 3: Time

March 14th, 2012 · Jungian, Jungian therapy, second half of life, therapy, Time

Jungian therapy

Jungian therapy is shaped and informed by this awareness: no one can avoid the significance of time in the second half of life.  In my earlier posts in this series on the second half of life, I focussed on open-ness and desire.  For this post, I’d like to think about time, and its enormous impact on us

Our Finite Season

We become acutely aware that our time is limited in the second half of life, as Jungian therapy well knows.  This gives a certain type of urgency to living.  We have real choice about whether we will meet it with panic, denial and regret, or a sense of courage, self acceptance and engagement of creativity.

We are Creatures of Chronos

Many traditions have a time deity, to reflect its necessity, like Greek Chronos or Mithraic Aion.  Human consciousness needs duration to even be aware of itself.  We have to spend time to even feel that we are living.  So how will we spend it?

Time, Change, Age

Time, change and aging profoundly affect our relationships

We confront these three in our bodies.  We confront them in the self, as, in the second half of life, we become aware of possibilities that we have not lived out, and aspects of ourselves that we have not yet acknowledged — the unlived life.

However, there is also the possibility that, as we age, we may move towards a certain important kind of freedom.

Courage to “Waste Time”

Growing older, I may find that I am liberated from the tyranny of the expectations of others, and of the need to prove myself to others.  This can be one of the genuine gifts of maturation through midlife and the second half of life.  I may find that I need to have the courage to “waste time”, as the world might think of it, to remove myself from the busy-ness, and just to reflect on my life.

I will never forget a lawyer I know, who through Jungian therapy decided to leave the legal profession, after years of working incredibly gruelling hours.  He told me, “The single most important thing that this experience has taught me?  My time is the single most precious thing that I have.”

Learning how to live in the present, to be with yourself, to listen to yourself, and to foster soul.  These can be key elements of psychotherapy in the second half of life.

PHOTOS:  © Maria Paula Coelho | Dreamstime.com
© 2012 Brian Collinson

 

 

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Individuation, Individual Therapy & Work Related Stress

March 5th, 2012 · individual therapy, Individuation, stress, therapy, work, work related stress

individual therapy

People expect work related stress to be a subject for individual therapy, but think less commonly about work and individuation — especially for today’s pressurized workers.  Individuation is the term Jung used to describe “the development of the psychological individual as a being distinct from the general, collective psychology.”  Particularly in the last 10 – 15 years, as anxiety has crept more and more into the work place, the experience of work for many people may seem to be about anything but genuine individual development.

Yet… Something in Us Seeks Wholeness — Even at Work

For Jung, the human psyche is always in process, seeking to bring all the parts of our self into relatedness with each other.  Even at our work.  In our work experience, with specific tasks, co-workers, clients, etc., some aspect of our self is confronting us, trying to come into awareness.  There’s truth about ourselves that we need to take in — even in work related stress.

Vocation — What if It’s Not Just a Word?

Vocation can be overly spiritualized and dramatized, or trivialized, as in the so-called “vocational test”.  But what if there actually is something specific that life and my own nature has suited me to do?  That may be a matter of the job I do, or a vocation that I live out over and above my job.

Connecting Point recorded archetypal psychologist Jame Hillman on the subject of “What is Your Calling?”

Work Related Stress: Message from My Deep Self?

The fundamental question for individual therapy is, “What does my work stress tell me about my true self?”  Perhaps in relation to fellow workers?  Or about my trouble with saying “No” or setting boundaries?  Or the ways that I have been kidding myself about the type of work that suits me, or about my own true abilities or inclinations?  Or maybe my own deepest motivations, or compulsive need for success or status?  Or my driven-ness or workaholism as avoidance of life?  Or my fear to move on?

The Shadow in Working Life

My work may express who I really am, and allow me to give from my deepest self to the world.  Alternately, it might be that I’m really alienated from myself at work, unable to show anyone who I really am or what I really care about, and that this disconnect is a real source of work related stress.

If shadow is the unacknowledged part of the self, what is in your shadow that concerns work?

PHOTOS:  © Maria Paula Coelho | Dreamstime.com
 © 2012 Brian Collinson

 

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