Journeying Toward Wholeness

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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)

 

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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

1-905-337-3946

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

 

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