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.

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

 

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The Not-So-Simple Task of Simply Being Honest, Part 1

August 25th, 2010 · depth psychology, Identity, Individuation, inner life, Jungian analysis, Jungian psychology, persona, Psychology, Psychology and Suburban Life, psychotherapist, Psychotherapy, Shadow, truth, unconscious

Nothing is so difficult as not deceiving oneself.

-Ludwig Wittgenstein

We all like to feel that we know ourselves, and that we are fundamentally honest with ourselves, but is it so?  Often we not only deceive other people — something we may or may not have very good reasons for doing.  We also deceive ourselves.  That is a problem, because sometimes deliberate not-wanting-to-know keeps us from being conscious of things that we really need to understand for our own individuation process.

To see what I mean, let’s consider one of the most common questions that is asked in this world.  This question must surely also receive one of the highest proportions of deceptive responses worldwide:

“So… How are you?”

It is not merely that the answers given to the questioner in response to this question are knowingly false.  It is, that on a deeper level, we very often are untruthful or inaccurate in what we allow ourselves to know in response to this question.  If we were to reflect, we would realize that our answers are not only superficial, they are often untrue.  For instance, we humans are quite capable of responding by telling people, “Fine, thank you!” when in fact we may be wrestling desperately with anxiety or depression.  It is not merely that we are choosing to be deceptive of others.  It is that we are choosing not to know — to deceive ourselves.

Sometimes the truth is very hard to look at, head on.  We can become acutely aware of this when there are aspects of ourselves at which we would rather not look.  For instance, it can sometimes take people a great deal of effort to look at their early life, and to acknowledge the ways in which it was  filled with sadness.  Or similarly, loyalty to parents may prevent a person from acknowledging that the relationship with that parent was, or is, a very difficult one.  Again, because we often have such an ego investment in relationships, acknowledging that  a marriage or a partnership may not be good for us may hold similar difficulties. Similarly, the capacity of individuals to rationalize or deny in situations of addiction or abuse are well known.  And the whole realm of sexuality is frequently full of things that we would rather not admit to ourselves.

To set yourself on the course of being fundamentally honest with yourself is to set yourself on the path of encounter with the unconscious.  In particular, being honest with oneself often sets one on a course for in-depth encounter with the shadow, in Jungian terms.  In the next Part of this series, I will be examining this encounter with shadow in more depth.

Questions to Ask about Truth and Honesty in the Inner Life

  1. What do I have a vested interest in believing about myself?
  2. What do I have a vested interest in believing about other people in my life?
  3. Are there things that I would really rather believe, that I have to admit are just not true?

I’d welcome your comments on this post, and on the whole subject of truth in our relationship to ourselves.

Wishing you every good thing on your  personal journey to wholeness,

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst

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PHOTO CREDIT: © Jose Elias Silva Neto | Dreamstime.com

© 2010 Brian Collinson

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