Journeying Toward Wholeness

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Overcoming COVID: Holding the Hope; Coping with Impatience

January 4th, 2021 · holding the hope

COVID has been with us for quite a while now and we’re all finding that demanding. Holding the hope that we’ll move beyond it can be even harder.

Naturally, everyone wants the pandemic to be done and over. This is especially true now that we have arrived at the early days of the New Year. As it has since the time of the Babylonians, and even before, New Year’s celebrations symbolize that the world is being made all over again, fresh and new. That symbolism of the renewal of the world takes on an even greater power for all of us at this time, as we yearn to see the world freed of COVID, and our lives returned to their former richness and freedom—renewed indeed.

Things Seem to be Moving Slowly

The problem for many of us is that the new post-COVID world is being born, but it’s taking some time to get here. There’s a very big difference between wanting that renewal to occur, and actually seeing it take place.

At the present time, we’re dealing with a very mixed picture. It seems like the world now has three vaccines which experts view as being effective against COVID-19, which is very welcome news. However, it seems likely that it’s going to take quite a while before enough of the population is vaccinated to turn the tide and bring about the end of COVID. Simultaneously, we’re dealing with record or near-record levels of COVID infection and hospitalization, here in Ontario, and in many places worldwide.

Many of us are in the position of trying to have hope and be optimistic about the future. Many of us also find ourselves in the position of being frustrated and discouraged about how long it’s taking us to get through this COVID-19 period. In terms of what science knows about how epidemics play out, this is not surprising. As U. of Toronto epidemologist Ashley Tuite puts it, “There won’t be a V-day where everyone runs into the streets and hugs…. Just a gradual return to normal.”

Andre Picard, writing in the Globe and Mail, neatly sums up our situation:

History tells us that pandemics don’t have Hollywood endings. The denouement tends to be slow and messy and COVID-19 will certainly be no exception.

COVID Makes It Complicated

We can take this in intellectually, but where does it leave us on an emotional, or even a spiritual level? We are dealing with a collective major life transition, a situation where the way out requires a great deal of patience and perseverance over a long period of time. This is not something that comes naturally to humans.

Our nervous system is very good at responding to immediate, visible threats. Our ancestors in the stone age would have known very well how to respond to an immediate threat like a sabre-toothed tiger. Similarly, Londoners who faced the extended aerial bombardment of the Blitz in World War II were able to stay motivated for a long time because the threat and its effects were very clearly visible. But how do you maintain optimism and resilience in the face of an invisible foe, when you’re in a situation of social isolation?

Hold the Hope; Find the Meaning

It’s easy in a situation like the present for people to respond from a place of anxiety, and that’s something that occurs with great frequency at present. One form that anxiety takes is denying the existence of the threat. If I simply convince myself that COVID isn’t a threat, or is greatly exaggerated, then my anxiety will be lessened. I suspect that this dynamic is occurring in a lot of people who are “anti-maskers”, or who oppose social distancing, or who want businesses and public events to open up and “just be normal”,

But what if we recognize that we can’t allow ourselves to move into that kind of denial? How can we keep ourselves from lapsing into despair, or finding the lockdown unbearable?

This is a question of great importance for the many people who “just want to get through this thing”, and keep on “holding the hope”. There are a number of different and important answers that include things such as maintaining healthy social connections and getting exercise and healthy sleep. Yet, there is one dimension of situations such as this that psychotherapist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl highlights that merits out attention:

Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.

Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Certainly Jungian psychology would agree with this assessment. From a Jungian perspective, there is a strong link between having a sense of hope, and finding meaning in our situation. This may be an important time to take stock of what it is that provides a sense of meaning in your individual life. That could be connection to people whom we love, religious or spiritual values, commitment to particular ideals or beliefs, or so much more. At this difficult time, exploring and committing ourselves to what we find meaningful is an essential source of hope.

Exploring the sources of meaning and hope in our individual lives will be one of the most important things that each of us does in this New Year of 2021, for ourselves, for those we love, and for the wider world.

I wish you every blessing and good thing in this coming year, and may the year find you “holding the hope” for your own individual journey towards wholeness.

Brian  Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist and Jungian Analyst


© 2021 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

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Hope and Trust, and Reclaiming the Future

October 19th, 2020 · adapting to change, hope and trust

In this post, I’m moving slightly away from my recent posts on “Emotions of the Pandemic”, to examine hope and trust.

Hope and trust might seem like they’re very important things in a major life transition such as this pandemic period, and of course they are. However, they’re equally important for any season in our lives. Many of the things that are true about hope during the pandemic are true, really, about a great many stages and points in our lives.

Hope is an essential part of human life. You may have heard some version of that old saying:

Humans can live about forty days without food, maybe three days without water, about eight minutes without air…but only about one second without hope.

Yet what exactly is hope? How do we get it? As C.G. Jung tells us, it’s not just something that happens to us:

Faith, hope, love, and insight are the highest achievements of human effort [italics mine]. 

C.G. Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul

Jung ranks hope as one of the great accomplishments of the human spirit, and he recognizes that there’s more to it than might at first appear.

Hope and Trust: Not Exactly Emotions

Hope is not just a naive, feel-good emotion that carries us along. It’s a dynamic motivator that involves at least three of the four psychological functions: thinking, feeling and intuition. The emotional and feeling part of hope follows the thinking and intuitive part which generate motivating goals. There can be an inspirational aspect to hope, in that the things that really move us to persist and to strive can sometimes come in a full-blown way out of the unconscious.

Hope has an emotional part, a positive emotional charge that comes out of our capacity to imagine possibilities, and ways in which we might start to be able to realize them. It relates to our capacity to establish what psychologists like Prof. Charles Snyder call learning goals, which are goals that help us to aspire to improving our situation, and that of those we care about. This contrasts with those who lack hope, who tend to choose only mastery goals, which are easy goals that don’t require us to challenge ourselves, or do anything we haven’t tried before. These are goals that don’t aspire to anything better than the present situation. They are devoid of hope. Very often, they can be associated with high levels of depression and anxiety.

Where Can I Find Hope and Trust?

The road to hope starts with imagining possibility, ways in which things could be different and better than what we currently are experiencing. So there is definitely an element of imagination in hope.

Sometimes, our experience in life may prevent us from imagining possibilities that are different from the things we experience at present. This may be as a result of experience from even the early days of life, when perhaps the family dynamics, economic conditions or other factors led us to close the door on anything other than the particular situation in which we as children or young people found ourselves.

Or, it may be that, as a result of setbacks and issues that we face in the present that our capacity to imagine and take steps to move toward good things in the future has been damaged, or lost altogether. This situation is what we call “losing hope”. It can be caused by many types of life circumstances, but it’s an experience that a good number of people are encountering during this time of COVID-19 and lockdown.

We need to get back to our hope, and to trust in a future that can offer us good things.

Strength for Now and the Future

In order to move into a personal future that is worth having, we need to be able to envisage a better possibility for the future. We also need to have the motivation and resilience to pursue those possibilities, and we need to be able to see at least the outline of a way of getting to those goals. It can be a crucial and demanding piece of psychological work to move into a place of healing, from which hope is possible.

Working with a depth psychotherapist to develop the ability to imagine better future possibilities that can actually be achieved, and to find the inner motivation and resiliency to move toward them, can be a very important step towards recovering genuine hope and trust in our life journey.

Wishing you genuine and lasting hope and trust for your journey to wholeness,

Brian  Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist and Jungian Analyst


© 2021 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

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Finding Hope: A Depth Psychotherapy Perspective

January 5th, 2014 · Hope

Early in the New Year, hope can be a very important thing, as Jungians and other depth psychotherapists well know.

hope

Hope is a fundamental human psychological need.

So, What Really Is Hope?

Some authorities, such as psychology Prof. C.R. Snyder of the University of Kansas define hope as “the overall perception that one’s goals can be met.”   However, authorities such as  Prof. Richard Rorty of Stanford have sought to understand hope as about more than just goal setting.

For Rorty, hope is about finding a promise or reason for expecting a better future.  For him, as depth psychotherapists would agree, hope is not just centered around the success of the particular goals that we in our ego-bound way might set.  It’s much more fundamentally concerned with the feeling and belief that life can and will open up in a way that is hospitable to who and what we most fundamentally are.

The New Year’s Resolution as a Symbol of Hope

New Year’s resolutions serve as a particular symbol of hope.  The New Year is a time of renewal, but it is also a time of focus on the future.  We want to believe that the future will be good and trustworthy.  New Year’s resolutions are a concrete and yet symbolic expression of this hope.  It’s as if we’re putting ourselves on the line, and saying, “I believe in the future, and here’s my commitment to it” — at least if we’re sincere in our resolutions!

Hope

Hope as Anchor

The New Testament aptly describes hope as “the anchor of the soul”.  I particularly like this, if we use the word “soul” here, not in some abstract “ghost in the machine” sense, but as referring to our deepest being, our deepest identity.  So that, our hope would then be the anchor of our deepest identity.  My hope would be fundamentally connected with being at home in my most intimate self.

The philosopher Kirkegaard stated  that “The most common form of despair is not being who you are. ”  To not live out of who I most fundamentally am, is a basic failure of hope.

So perhaps rather than trying to bring about this or that moral reform or change of habit, our focus with New Year’s resolutions should be on understanding and being more grounded in our own fundamental real identity.

Hope as More than Goals and Willpower

Jung makes some very relevant comments about his experience with clients:

The greatest and most important problems of life are all in a certain sense insoluble.  They can never be solved, but only outgrown.  This “out-growing” on further experience was seen to consist in a new level of consciousness.  Some higher or wider interest arose on the person’s horizon, and through this widening of his view the insoluble problem lost its urgency.  It was not solved on its own terms, but faded out when confronted with a newer and stronger life-tendency.  It was not repressed and made unconscious, but merely appeared in a different light, and so, did indeed become different.

The most important kinds of change result not from the exercise of our will-power, but through greater encounter with our own nature.

hope

Finding and Living Out of Genuine Hope

Often the journey of discovering our own individuality, accepting it, and living it out can be a source of genuine hope for the individual.  The process of depth psychotherapy is often the best way to foster self-acceptance, and, with it, the sense of hope, and of resilience.

PHOTOS: Attribution Share Alike  Some rights reserved by ell brown ;  Gamma Man ; bjornblog
© 2013 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

 

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Hope: Burnout Treatment During Midlife Transition

September 24th, 2012 · burnout, burnout treatment, Hope, midlife, midlife transition

Burnout treatment is a matter of real importance in our society as a whole, but for those undergoing midlife transition, it often takes on an even deeper significance.

burnout treatment

For many people, midlife transition is a time full of issues around career transition, social role, and at an even deeper level, questions of vocation.

Burnout is Incredibly Common During Midlife Transition

By the time of the midlife transition, most people have done a lot of living.  Many have quite a bit of experience with the work world, and often with a number of other social “worlds” in which they have been involved.  In fact, there may be a great deal of disillusionment and fatigue connected to living in work and other social roles and in meeting their expectations.

Sometimes, as a result of this experience, a profound weariness can descend upon individuals, and a deep inability to find motivation.  We call this burnout.

Burnout Treatment and the Death of Hope…

Often, in important ways, burnout treatment must address the death of a certain type of hope in the individual at midlife transition.  A way of looking at life, certain hopes and dreams, a certain way of being in the world, have all come to their end.  They have no more vitality, and, even though these attitudes may have served us well earlier in life, now they cannot avoid dying.

This may entail deep feelings of loss, genuine grief, a wide range of emotions, and a profound sense of disorientation.

…But Also, the Birth of Hope

This time may also herald the birth of a differing understanding of identity — and a different kind of hope.  A move away from hoping that the individual dreams of my youth will be fulfilled, to a hope that I can find meaning, hope and vitality in other places.  Another, different understanding of value and meaning in terms of my own truly deepest needs and yearnings, and what is really significant in my life.

Vocation as New and Deeper Identity

As I explore these elements of myself, even thought the process may be incredibly painful, I may be in the process of finding a new and deeper identity.  I may be moving beyond people pleasing and outer appearances, to satisfying the deepest yearnings within me, and the deepest movements of my soul.  Burnout treatment during midlife transition may mean the liberation of energy into a new kind of readiness and welcome for living.

PHOTO:  AttributionSome rights reserved by dno1967b

 

 

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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.

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

 

 

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The Psychological Meaning of the Chilean Miners

October 15th, 2010 · Current Affairs, Hope, inner life, mine rescue, Psychology, psychotherapist, Psychotherapy, resilience, symbolism, therapy

I had just begun my series on “Stress, Power, Resilience — and Myth” when our attention was again drawn to the fate of  the miners trapped at the bottom of the mine at Copiapo, Chile.  This is a story that embodies resilience, if there ever was one.  The world’s media have been following the fortunes of the miners with tremendous verve and intensity.  Why is it that this story grips us so?

Frankly, from a symbolic perspective, there is so much that could be said about a group of miners trapped in the bowels of the earth, and finally coming to the light of day again that you could write a very hefty book about it.

Clearly this story is an incredible embodiment of human resilience.  To wait in a precarious chamber of rock for 66 days for a tunnel to be dug down: could it really get much worse?  It would be a test of any human being’s sanity to have to wait in this manner is such confining and threatening surroundings.

And the world waited with the Chilean miners.  In an emotional, and even in a quasi-physical way, we experience to some degree what it is that they experience.  With them, we share in their longing for a return to the surface, to the world of light.  Their experience reminds us of all those aspects of human life where things seem to be beyond our control, where the only way to “get through” is to endure, to be patient, to be resilient.  We share in their hope for freedom, and for the restoration of their own lives, because, in their hope we find our own hope, our own need to “get through” in life, that we will some day get beyond the difficult things with which we have no choice but to deal.

Sometimes human life takes us into the darkness.  We are lost; we are disoriented; we are trapped.  What we need then is to find that hope in which we can endure, and find a way back into the world of the living.  This can be as true in the world of psychological growth and psychotherapy as it is in the mines of Copiapo.

Do you have reflections or thoughts on the meaning of the events around the Chilean mine rescue?  I would certainly love to hear about them if you do.  Does their story resonate in any way with your own?

Good wishes to all of you as you make your own personal journey to wholeness,

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst

VIDEO CREDIT: © Russia Today These images are the property of  Russia Today and are used here in the fair use context of critical discussion.

© 2010 Brian Collinson

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Stress, Power, Resilience — and Myth, Part 1

October 10th, 2010 · Anxiety, Carl Jung, depth psychology, Hope, Meaning, mythology, Oakville, power, Psychology and Suburban Life, resilience, stress, trust, work

Some of the greatest stressors that people experience in the second decade of the 21st century stem from the things which people feel powerless to control.  At times, individuals can feel like life is a dice-roll.

I think that’s why a lot of people in Oakville are so happy about the cancellation of the Oakville Power plant.  Here in Oakville, the mood almost borders on euphoria.  It seems that the feelings are associated with a sense of release, though.  I think that this may be due to the fact that many in Oakville felt that the Power Plant was something close to an an inevitability because of the array of formidable powers (Ford, Trans-Canada and the Premier and Provincial Government) that apparently wanted to see it come to completion.  Fortunately, there were many in Oakville, in organizations like Citizens for Clean Air, who kept up a formidible fight.  And they succeeded, to their very great credit!

There are many things in the 2010s that can easily make people feel powerless.  Many of those things have to do with economics.  It is not that long since the 2008 market meltdown and the Great Recession which followed it, and the recovery which is underway can certainly seem precarious.  Many people have had to contend with job loss, and many more feel that their jobs–and the lives that they have built around those jobs–are precariously balanced.  To a lot of people, dreams that seemed readily attainable for their parents’ generation do not seem at all easily attainable for them.  And many worry about their children’s education and future — and their own later life.

In addition, the majority of us struggle, or have had to struggle with our own inner wounds.  For many people, there can be a strong sense that their experience growing up has not equipped them to feel strong and confident in meeting the challenges that they are facing in their lives.  It can be very hard to the people who feel that “something fundamental  was missing” in the kind of love and affirmation that they received from those who were supposed to love them.  For others, it can feel that events in their lives — loss of love, marital breakup, personal tragedy, trauma — have deprived them of the wherewithal to meet the challenges that life is putting in front of them.

What we each need to meet our lives is what psychologists increasingly refer to as resilience.  Simply put, resilience is the power to “roll with the punches” that life throws at us, and to “have the stamina to go the distance” in our lives, and to “hang in”.

What psychologists and sociologists have noticed in their study of the coping patterns of people, even people dealing with some of the most difficult situations imaginable, is that there are huge differences in how people respond, and whether they are able to cope and endure.  Even in appalling situations, there are some people who have the capacity to overcome their circumstances, and to find the courage to live meaningful and courageous lives.  Resiliency has been defined by psychiatrist Steven Wolin as:

the capacity to rise above adversity—sometimes the terrible adversity of outright violence, molestation or war—and forge lasting strengths in the struggle.

Clearly, we all need resilience.  But we have to be careful that the resilience that we seek is the real thing, not the fake kind.  I think most of us have had some experience with this less-than-authentic resilience.  The fake kind is kind found in the “you can do anything, rise above anything” variety of pep talk, that unfortunately is often found in self help literature.  Regrettably, it is also espoused by some psychologists and therapists.  This heroic version tends (consciously or unconsciously) to over-emphasize will power, and it papers over the cracks and the pain that often run unbelievably deeply in peoples’ lives.  This emphasis on “where there’s a will there’s a way” (a phrase Carl Jung hated) will not sustain when the chips are really down in life.

Mark Bolan’s Cosmic Dancer , which many of you may know from the movie Billy Elliot, itself an incredible celebration of resilience, uses the metaphor of dancing for resilience — “I was dancing when I was 12 / I danced myself right out of the womb / I danced my way into the tomb” :

So, how do we get to the real thing — to a resilience that is rooted in our own real lives?  This is a subject I’ll be pursuing in the next part of this series on “Stress, Power, Resilience — and Myth”.

What are your “impressions” on the whole subject of resilience?  What is it for you?  What is it rooted in?  I’d welcome any of your reflections.

I wish you every good thing as you make your personal journey to wholeness,

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst

PHOTO CREDIT: © Lawrence Wee | Dreamstime.com

MUSIC CREDIT: Mark Bolan and T Rex performing “Cosmic Dancer” from the album “Electric Warrior” © 1971 Warner  This music is the property of Warner and is used here in the fair use context of critical discussion.

© 2010 Brian Collinson

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Escaping the Grip of Regret, Part 2: The Power of Regret

July 29th, 2010 · Hope, regret

In my last posting, I tried to open up the whole subject of regret, and the powerful and sometimes crippling place that it can occupy in our lives, and how we can be held in slavery to regret of all the choices we could have made differently, or courses of events that could have turned out differently.  In this posting, I’d like to pose the question: what exactly is it that gives regret its formidable power?

I believe that Paul Simon’s Slip Sliding Away is a wonderfully expressive song that expresses something of this aspect of regret with great eloquence:

In regret, something of our energy, our emotional life, ourselves, even, gets caught up with “the way it might have been”.  The longed for possibility, what could have been, comes too close to the heart for us to let go of it entirely.  And yet, at the same time, we are caught in the excruciatingly painful awareness that the longed-for will never be, cannot now ever be.  The chance for it to be is gone for good, and we feel the pain, but can’t let go.

All of this would be so simple if it were a matter of will!   If we could just give ourselves a stiff talking to, and tell ourselves that the past is past, that we should leave well enough alone and move on, how great that would be!  But with the worst cases of regret, it just doesn’t work like that.  We may reason and reason with ourselves, and yet sometimes we just can’t let go and move on.  To do so can feel like we are killing a part of ourselves, which consequently just lives on in some shadowy half-life.

The reality is that regret is grounded within us somewhere other than in our everyday conscious minds.  It is grounded in the deepest hopes and aspirations that we have, that have somehow been unlocked as we dared to hope for their fulfillment, and have then been undone, by our decisions, or just by the course of life.  We are caught and crucified by our yearning for a life other than the one that turned out.

Regret will not truly be healed through our self-discipline.  It may be hidden in this manner, but not truly eased or released.  It is only by having the courage to truly go into the regret, to open it up and understand it, that we can begin to transform its energy into something life-giving.

Have you ever had the experience of moving beyond a deep regret?  How did that happen for you?  I’d welcome your private communications, or any of your comments that you would like to post.

My Next Post: Escaping the Grip of Regret, Part 3: Through Phoenix Gate

I wish you all the very best on your  personal journey to wholeness,

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst

PHOTO CREDIT: © Sascha Burkard | Dreamstime.com

VIDEO CREDITS: “Slip Sliding Away” © 2010 Paul Simon under exclusive license to Sony Music Entertainment. These images are used here in the fair use context of critical discussion.

© 2010 Brian Collinson , 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario, Canada L6J 5L7

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Trust and Betrayal, Part 2: 4 Simple, Difficult Truths

June 2nd, 2010 · depth psychology, Hope, Meaning, parent-child interactions, psychological crisis, Psychotherapy, Relationships, The Self, therapy, trust

Following on from my last blog post on trust and betrayal, the following are four truths about the experience of betrayal of trust.  They are surprisingly easy to state.  However, really taking in what they mean for our lives is likely a much bigger psychological task.

1. An Experience of Betrayal Can Deeply Impact A Person’s Ability to Trust Others.  Not surprisingly, someone who has had their trust violated in a profound way is wary of giving that trust again.  It may be that they find that it is only with the greatest degree of effort that trust can be restored.  It may well be that, on an unconscious level they withhold trust or sabotage relationships — or they just don’t get into them.

2. An Experience of Betrayal Can Really Impact a Person’s Ability to Trust Him- or Herself.  The experience of betrayal not only impacts a person’s attitudes and response to others.  It can also have a profound impact on the way an individual regards his or her own being.  The reflection that he or she trusted someone deeply, and was betrayed, can lead to profound self-doubt and lack of confidence in her or his own judgment.

3. Experiences of Betrayal Can “Snowball”.  If Someone Has Undergone Betrayal, It Can Be Easy to Repeat the Pattern.  On the other hand, the reverse of point 2. can occur to a person.  An individual who has suffered a deep betrayal may unconsciously seek to get into a relationship of trust with someone who is as similar as possible to the initial betrayer.  They may hang onto a deep hope in the unconscious that they will be able to be in an intimate relationship with one like the former beloved, and instead of having the same tragic outcome as in the first relationship, there is a deep yearning for it to “turn out differently this time”.  Needless to say, such an individual may be unconsciously setting themselves up for a econd, maybe even more devastating betrayal.

4. Betrayal Can Lead to Bitterness, Revenge, Hatred — or to New Awareness.  Probably all of us know someone who has been through an experience of betrayal, who “can’t let go”.  Sometimes people are consumed by bitterness, hatred or an overwhelming desire for revenge, and as a result, that person’s life ends up “on ice”.  They are stuck, and can’t move past what has been done to them.  Such a person needs to find a way to begin to let go of the pain and the outrage, and to find a source of hope, and an awareness of  something that gives meaning and in which he or she can invest themselves.  Something that beckons him or her on, pulling him or her into his or her life.

I am not engaging in uttering some glib bit of fake sunshine here.  Make no mistake: such “letting go” can be the biggest single piece of psychological work that a person may undertake in his or her life.  It is a work that cannot just come from the ego.  It is something that comes from the Self.

In one form or another, betrayal is an experience common to humanity.  To find a way to let go of the experience enough to allow it to be transformed, to move through it and into our lives — is unfortunately not as common.  It can only be accomplished through engagement with the deepest parts of ourselves.  Often this is a place in life where depth psychotherapy can have an important role in the journey toward wholeness.

My very best wishes to you on your individual journey to wholeness — especially if at this point in your journey you are seeking healing around issues of trust.  If you were willing to share any of your experiences around this very important area of life, I would welcome and honour your comments or emails.

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist and Jungian Analyst

PHOTO CREDIT: ©  Ciapix |Dreamstime.com © 2010 Brian Collinson

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Work and the Heart

May 15th, 2010 · Hope, Identity, Jungian analysis, Psychology and Suburban Life, Psychotherapy, soul, Wellness, wholeness, work

An article from the Globe and Mail of 12 May 2010 , “Working regular overtime linked to increased heart attack risk” raises some very serious questions about the way that we’re living now:

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The article cites a study published in the European Heart Journal, which finds that employees who regularly put in 11- to 12-hour days have an almost 60 per cent greater risk of having a heart attack than those who put in a standard 7 to 8 hours daily.  The scary thing, of course, is that, in our world, that group who are putting in the 11 to 12 hour days is very large.  As the article suggests, “the overtime hours were not, in and of themselves, causing heart problems, but rather that they likely reflect the stress being felt by those who work long days”.  So, to be literal-minded, stress and endless days are making people sick at heart.

What is it about work and the heart?  There is true symbolism here, that comes right out of the midst of flesh and blood.  For events in the body are very often symbols or metaphors of what is going on in the psyche.  Psyche will reflect in the stomach, or in the neck and back what psyche has to bear, or finds unbearable.  Psyche and soma (Greek for body) are a unity, and they reflect each other.

At the risk of sounding childish or naive, this whole area begs our consideration because it draws attention to a huge very personal, very human question: what is our heart’s desire?

Down through the millenia, the symbolism of the human heart has represented that dimension of the human being that interacts with life through feeling.  The psychic reality is that the feeling dimension of life cannot be ignorred.  The overall question of what we want, really want, from our lives is not going to leave us alone, not really going to go away, even if it gets repressed.  Endless work and/or the complete blurring of the distinction between work and home leaves the heart in a desert wasteland.

We have to come to terms with the true depth of our yearning.  The only way to do that is to trust that our deepest yearnings are not meaningless.

How can we possibly find a way to make a living and keep our health?  Only by giving the heart what it needs.  What does your heart need?  Can we dare to even ask that question?  Do we dare to hope for it anymore, or has that hope gotten submerged or lost in the midst of cascading demands and obligations?

Stay with your heart.  Trust that it knows what you need.  Strive to find the ways to get closer to the things that matter to you, and to be less and less driven by urgencies and agendas that have nothing to do with your own real life.  As the Book of Proverbs, that compendium of age-old human wisdom in the Hebrew Bible has it:

Hope deferred makes the heart sick,

but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

 My very best wishes to you on your individual journey to wholeness — and your journey to your heart.

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist and Jungian Analyst

PHOTO CREDIT: ©  Vladimirdreams|Dreamstime.com

© 2010 Brian Collinson

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