Journeying Toward Wholeness

Vibrant Jung Thing Blog

Summer Can Open Us to Life Changing Experiences

July 25th, 2022 · life changing experiences

Here we are in the middle of summer 2022, and, naturally, many of us are looking for fun experiences. But summer can also bring us life changing experiences.

PHOTO: Stock Photo Secrets

(Of course, fun experiences can be life changing! The two things are not mutually exclusive!) But, more generally, what kind of life changing experiences can summer bring? How do we recognize and welcome these experiences? How can we let them grow in our lives?

Often, we are so accustomed to experiencing life in a certain preset way, and so used to seeing things from a fixed perspective, that it can be difficult to let anything else really penetrate our awareness. We can have an experience of something that seems genuinely new and enlivening. The new thing may seem to change us for a week or two, but then we revert to our older habitual view of ourselves and our lives. After a while, the experience of anything other than “the same old same old” can start to seem far away,. It can feel that perhaps we only imagined it.

How can we retain our connection to experiences that seem genuinely life-changing, and life giving?

Summer Brings a Different Rhythm

For many of us, the summer period has a different rhythm than the rest of the year. With summer vacations and more recreational activities on the weekends, time may seem to slow down, in some ways. We’re able to be much more present to the moment, and perhaps much more aware of our thoughts, reactions and feelings.

It may be that, in the course of summer living, we have experiences that really wake us up. We may describe them as “feeling more alive”, or “feeling authentically ourselves”. They may take us beyond anxiety and into presence. Perhaps as we’re doing a recreational activity, or, as we’re pausing and doing nothing, just being here now, we reflect that “Yes, this, right now, is what I really want for myself”. Or, we have some compelling awareness of what we want in our lives, and we feel that there might just be a way to attain it. I don’t mean by this that we see a way to a new house, boat or swimming pool. I’m referring much more to having a sense of how we might be in our lives.

It may be that such an awareness comes in a precious moment where we are alone, but genuinely with ourselves. It may come from a special interaction with family or friends. Or, it might even come as a dream state. It was not by accident that WIlliam Shakespeare wrote a play entitled “A Midsummer Night’s Dream“!

Letting In” Life Changing Experiences

The great challenge to new experiences or awarenesses is always our own resistance. The psyche is inherently conservative. If we have a mind-altering or perspective-changing experience, it can be all too easy for the ego to dismiss it as irrelevant, or of negligible importance. Lena M. Forsell of Lund University notes the

affective, cognitive, and behavioral components that create a psychological resistance to making a change in particular situations or overall changes in one’s life

Say we have an experience that seems to point to a fundamentally different way of being in our lives. We can count on the appearance of resistance to pressure us to return to “the way it’s always been”. We may especially note this tendency at times when we’re going through major life transitions.

If we let our resistance stay in the driver’s seat, we may find that something that could be a life changing experience gets turned into “an odd experience that I once had”. It then gets relegated to the dustbin of our lives, as an element of unlived life that never will be.

Letting Go of Past Constraints

Yet it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s possible to cultivate an attitude of receptiveness and openness to experiences that seem to offer a doorway to new possibility. We can become more aware of our resistances, to see them for what they are, as we develop our ability to put them aside and explore new possibilities. In this way, as Jung put it, we can work to go beyond the limitations of our ego, and explore the beckoning of our greater Self.

With very best wishes for your personal journey,

© 2022 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

Brian Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist and Jungian Analyst

Certified Clinical Anxiety Treatment Professional

Certified Telemental Health Practitioner


© Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

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Should I Quit My Job? Connecting Career Vocation and Soul

July 11th, 2022 · should I quit my job

Should I quit my job? Here we are, on a beautiful sun-filled summer day. Perhaps you’re on summer vacation. Work may be far from your mind! And yet…

Should I stay or should I go? (PHOTO: Stock Photo Secrets).

And yet, there’s something about the summer vacation period that leads us to look at our jobs from a different angle. When we get away from the patterns of daily work routines, we often can see our work or career differently from how it looks when we’re right down in the trenches. Over the years, hundreds of people in stressful jobs have told me how hard it can be to focus on anything other than immediate deadlines when they endlessly keep arising. And in 2022, that’s the nature of many jobs!

Should I quit my job? That question may well come into more focus when I have time off from the regular daily routine. When I’m outside of the regular weekly vortex, I may find myself more in contact with what it is that I really want from my life. I may also find myself more in touch with the whole of my personal journey—and that’s important.

How do you even assess whether your job is right for you? Even more fundamentally, how do you start to figure our what you’re looking for from a job? [Please note – for the purposes of this discussion, I’m including self-employed options as a kind of “job” or career.]

What Do You Want from Your Job?

There are a number of key areas to think about, when it comes to asking whether your job is giving you what you need:

  • Does my job meet my basic material needs? Clearly we want jobs that provide at least a basic living wage, have safe working conditions, and provide sick leave and disability insurance. If you’re struggling to make ends meet, or in continual fear of getting sick, this isn’t the job for you.
  • Can I manage my workload, on an on-going basis? This is a big issue, as many people currently feel that their employers continually ask them to do more with less.
  • Do I have a sense of community or connection with the people I work with? If not, it can be very hard to get a sense that work is satisfying, valuable or meaningful. It’s essential that work feels psychologically safe.
  • Is my job adequately rewarding? I’m using the term here in a broader sense than just salary. Does my job provide other opportunities to develop, both professionally and personally?
  • Is my job actually a fit with my life, and with who I am? Recently, this broad question has been in the background in our culture as we witness what Texas A & M Prof. Anthony Klotz labelled “the Great Resignation”. This huge wave of post-pandemic resignations comes as many workers re-examine their priorities and values.

From the perspective of Jungian depth psychotherapy, it is this last question that is the most important. How does this job align with who I really am? From a Jungian perspective, the key life task we all face is individuation. This is the development of the individual personality, or, as Jung puts it, “the development of the psychological individual as a being distinct from the general, collective psychology” (Jung, CW 6). So, the question arises: is this job making me more or less myself?

The Dangers of Just “Keeping On Keeping On

From this perspective, the greatest danger is that we will never even ask the question of how my work relates to my true identity, to the essence of me. Many years ago, Paul Simon expressed it perfectly in the song Slip Sliding Away:

We’re workin’ our jobs, collect our pay
Believe we’re gliding down the highway, when in fact we’re slip sliding away

It can be very easy to simply let inertia carry us when it comes to our work life. A job may be absolutely soul-sucking, and yet we continue day after day, month after month, year after year. We can suppress our real feelings, and experience them coming back to us in the form of anxiety or depression. We may never get to the point of confronting vocation, or of what it is that we feel we’re meant to do with the gift of our unique lives.

Should I Quit My Job? What Does Soul Say?

I’d like to close this post with three quotes by Jungian analyst James Hillman:

the purpose of life is to make psyche of it, to find connections between life and soul.

Each life is formed by its unique image, an image that is the essence of that life and calls it to a destiny.

…you find your genius by looking in the mirror of your life.

On its most fundamental level, how I approach my job, and whether I remain in or leave my job, is a soul question. It has to do with the essence of who I am, and with making my daily life an expression of that true essence.

The expression of that true essence is fundamental to our journey to wholeness. Finding and expressing who we most fundamentally are is the very heart of Jungian analysis or depth psychotherapy.

Wishing you every good thing on your personal journey,

© 2022 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

Brian Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist and Jungian Analyst

Certified Clinical Anxiety Treatment Professional

Certified Telemental Health Practitioner


© Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

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Getting to the Inner Meaning of Midlife Depression

July 4th, 2022 · midlife depression

Midlife depression is a reality for many. By “midlife depression” I’m referring to forms of depression which specifically have their onset in the midlife years.

PHOTO: Stock Photo Secrets

Today I’m focusing on midlife depression that is rooted in psychological issues associated with the middle part of life. So, this blog doesn’t focus on the more specifically physical issues that can result in depression, such as: low Vitamin B12 levels; thyroid disorders; chronic pain due to arthritis; diabetes; menopause; or, heart health issues. We’re going to look more at the range of psychological changes that result from being in the middle part of life.

The types of midlife depression we’re examining in this blog are the types that are associated with midlife transition. A 2008 study of 2 million individuals found that midlife depression is a worldwide reality. This is the period, occurring sometime around the middle of life, when very many people begin to really reflect on the lives that they have lived, and may even find themselves moving toward new values or a new perspective. Jungian analyst Robert Johnson vividly describes this process:

With aging we all face threats to our ability to control outcomes. Perhaps it is the painful onset of physical limitations… the death of parents and even friends, or disillusionment of youthful dreams—all these may contribute to a mental shift at midlife from “time since birth” to “time left until death” and we begin to feel that time is running out while something essential is still missing….

Researchers argue over whether the midlife crisis is a universal phenomenon of modern life, but we do know that so often by middle age the cultural process has become very dry for us, as if we have wrung all the energy out of our character. This is true not only when life has disappointed you and achievements have fallen short of expectations, but also if you have accomplished a good measure of success. Meanwhile the energy in your unlived life becomes more urgent [italics mine]

Robert A. Johnson and Jerry M. Ruhl Living Your Unlived Life

Midlife Depression: the Psychological Impact

Midlife depression can manifest in many different forms, often related to our limited ability to control outcomes. For instance, depression may be related to a sense of overload: in midlife, it can be very easy to feel suffocated by the combined demands of children, aging parents, marriage and your job. This is particularly the experience of many women—but men can certainly experience it, as well.

Another factor in midlife depression can be the empty nest. When a child or children leaves home, it can profoundly affect our mood. The investment of emotional energy that previously went toward children may now seem like it has nowhere to go, and we can feel empty. Again, we tend to stereotypically assume that this is the experience of mothers, but years of clinical experience have taught me that fathers can have just as profound a reaction!

Another factor with a profound relationship to midlife depression is retirement. This is particularly true for people who retire young, or who are forced into retirement. However, retirement can be psychologically difficult whenever and however it occurs. As Carl Jung famously said, “it’s good to retire—but not into nothing”.

Loneliness can be another key factor in midlife depression. It can be very easy for us to lose connection in midlife with people who are truly significant to us. Establishing meaningful connection with others may be one of the key challenges of midlife.

Grief also has a very significant connection with midlife depression, and may be associated with the loss of parents, significant relatives and friends. Grief is not the same thing as depression, but grief that is traumatic or unshared or unexpressed can lead to serious depression.

There are other factors in midlife that also lead to depression. A lot depends on the particular experience of the individual.

Denying Depression

There was a time—not so long ago as we’d like to think—when the conventional wisdom on how to deal with depression was “suck it up and keep going”. We’ve come a long way since then, and we’ve learned that denying the existence of depression doesn’t make it go away. We’ve also learned that another, related idea is not true: hard work doesn’t beat depression.

It’s very easy to be in a place of denial about depression. It’s not uncommon for individuals to deny or fail to recognize their depression for years. Yet the danger is that depression can have a dramatic effect on our physical or mental health. It has been demonstrated that unacknowledged and untreated depression can lead to serious heart-related health issues.

Finding the Sunken Life in Midlife Depression

A Jungian depth psychotherapeutic approach to depression emphasizes getting in touch with the unconscious component of the depression, and finding a way to release its emotional energy into our lives. in the words of Jung,

Depression should be regarded as an unconscious compensation whose content must be made conscious if it is to be fully effective.

C. G. Jung, CW5

The most healing thing we can do with our midlife depression is to get to the unconscious feeling and other content that is at the heart of it. We need to find ways to express and live out the unlived life contained there, in a way that enables us to be more creative, engaged and alive. This is a key part of Jungian analysis or psychotherapy for midlife depression, and it can make an enormous contribution to our journey towards wholeness.

With every good wish for your personal journey,

© 2022 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

Brian Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist and Jungian Analyst

Certified Clinical Anxiety Treatment Professional

Certified Telemental Health Practitioner


© Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

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