Journeying Toward Wholeness

Vibrant Jung Thing Blog

Job, Identity, Anxiety

January 13th, 2010 · wholeness, work

 

Work and Identity for Vibrant Jung Blog I don’t know what might motivate an employer to choose to lay people off 3 weeks before Christmas.  However, judging from the calls I received from clients and potential clients prior to the New Year, there were quite a few employers who took such action this year.

Having been on the receiving end of such news myself in prior times, my thoughts and very best wishes are with anyone who had to confront that reality this holiday season.  Here’s to better times and a better job market for all. 

This is difficult for people all on its own — just dealing with the economics of job loss.  However, when it’s compounded by issues of identity and self-worth, it can become incredibly painful, to the point where it is almost unbearable.

It’s all too easy for all of us to allow our identity to become completely bound up with our social role and with others’ expectations of us, especially where work is concerned.  In his writings, Jung warned incessantly of the dangers of becoming over-identified with the social self, the “persona” as he called it. 

Today, for many people, the pace of work simply increases and increases as organizations make new demands on their employees.  More and more consideration, energy and time is demanded by the workplace, and, for many, there is intense and endless anxiety about work, about whether one’s job is stable and sustainable, about relentless change, and often about the endless political complexities of workplaces where resources are scarce and communication and leadership are inadequate for the task at hand.

You might think that these factors would lead individuals to be less and less identified with work, but in an odd way, the effect seems often to be just the reverse.  Even though work is fraught with anxiety, people become strangely identified with their work role.  Perhaps it’s precisely because so much effort has to be put into keeping working life on an even keel, and so much worry and anxiety keep pulling individuals back to confronting their work. 

However, it’s essential for each of us to hold on to the realization that I am not identical with my work role.  Don’t allow work to consume the substance of your life.

Easy to say, but doing it is often not as simple as that.  Often it is not just the identity at work that confines us.  It can be just as much about the way that we are perceived in various social settings, and in the community at large, through our work roles, as it were.  Very many of us are powerfully addicted to the drug of success.  Or, perhaps more accurately, we are highly invested in being seen as a success, perhaps to such an extent that all of our self-esteem and self-respect is riding upon it.

This gives rise to some fundamental questions:

  • What really is it for me to be a success?  How will I know when I get there?
  • Who gets to say whether I’m a success?  Me, or some outside authority to which I’ve given the power to say whether I’ve made it or not?
  • Is it what I own that makes me a success, or is it what I am?
  • And simply, am I over-identified with my work role?  How do I understand myself independent of it?

Don’t let your work keep you from your life.  Don’t let it persuade you that it is your life.  Don’t let it keep you from your vocation, what it is that you are really meant to be and do.

I’d be interested in your comments about how you experience work, and how you understand yourself and your identity independent of your job, and, as always, any other comments that you might have.

My very best wishes to you on your individual journey to wholeness,

Brian Collinson

Website for Brian’s Oakville and Mississauga Practice: www.briancollinson.ca

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© 2010 Brian Collinson

 

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Is Attending to Your Dreams “Worth It”?

July 16th, 2009 · Carl Jung, depth psychology, dreams, Jungian analysis, Jungian psychology, Psychotherapy, wholeness

Attending to Your Dreams 1 for Vibrant Jung Thing There are some people who might look a bit oddly at you if you tell them you pay close attention to your dreams.  To some people, in fact, it seems like an incredibly “flaky” thing to do.

Often, these people subscribe to the “daily regurgitation” theory of dreaming.  Their understanding of where dreams come from is that the mind sort of soaks up all the impressions and images from the day, and then at the end of the day has to wring itself out, or clear itself from all the accumulated daily grunge.  This “grunge disposal”, on their view, is what dreaming is.  “After all” they say, “I had a dream that involved Harry Potter last night, and I just went to see the Harry Potter movie two days ago.  So surely seeing the Harry Potter movie made me dream about it!”

However, dreaming is really not that psychologically simple a process.  It’s unquestionably true that the dream will use imagery or ideas from a person’s recent life.  So if you went to the Harry Potter movie yesterday, it might very well appear in your dreams.  But does that mean that the Harry Potter movie caused your dream?  There are lots of things that you experienced in, say, the last 48 hours.  So why would the dream focus specifically on this?  As opposed to, say, the time you spent stuck in traffic on the QEW or the scrumptious BBQed ribs you had for dinner?

To determine the answer to that question may take some real inner exploration.  ButAttending to Your Dreams 2 for Vibrant Jung Thing it can reveal a great deal to you about your unconscious and your inner life.  The answer will depend very much on what Harry Potter or the Harry Potter movie symbolizes for you.  That will depend on both your personal associations (e.g., if your brother is the biggest Harry Potter fan ever, the dream may have something to do with him, one way or another) and also on the more objective or archetypal meaning of the symbol (e.g., Harry Potter is very much an archetypal hero, and the dream may have something to do with the heroic aspect of yourself).

Conscious, careful recording and examination of your dreams will be “worth it”.  There is a great deal of your self contained within them, and they offer the chance to know your psyche and the hitherto unknown aspects of who you are.

What do you think about your dreams?  I’d be interested to talk with you about them, and to hear how they’ve been meaningful or important in your life.  

My very best wishes to you on your individual journey to wholeness,

Brian Collinson


Website for Brian’s Oakville and Mississauga Practice: www.briancollinson.ca 

Email: brian@briancollinson.ca

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© 2009 Brian Collinson    

 

 

 

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When You Hit a Brick Wall

July 13th, 2009 · Carl Jung, depression, depth psychology, unlived life, wholeness

Often people get to the point in life where they reach an impasse, and they don't know how to solve a particular situation in their lives.Hitting the Wall 1 for Vibrant Jung Thing Blog

There doesn't seem to be a way forward and there doesn't seem to be a solution.  Although this can happen at any point in life, it seems particularly prevalent at mid-life.

Often, the way one becomes aware of this is that you just realize that the way that you have been trying to solve a particular problem or deal with a particular life situation just isn't opening anything up.  What this tells you, at least in part, is that your attitude is no longer adapted to the realities of your life.

Now, please don't misunderstand me.  I'm not saying something along the lines of "If you want it enough, and you're unfailingly positive about it, what you want in your life will come" — the kind of message that you find in books like The Secret.  I think that approach to life is quite naive, and I have seen a fair number of people come to real harm as a result of trying to live like that.  Such an attitude can be really unadapted, and can lead you into a major collision in reality.  I know of one person who left home and found herself absolutely destitute and friendless in Dubai as a result of that kind of thinking.  From all that I hear, Dubai is not a great place to be penniless, and to try and get by on just a sunny smile.

Having an adapted attitude may well mean that there are certain realities that I have to let in and acknowledge.  That may even mean that there are things that I have to grieve.  What it may mean, above all, is that I have to change.

Let's say that I'm a true died-in-the-wool "thinking type" person.  So I try to approach all the problems and situations in my life in very rational, thought-out, dispassionate ways.  Then perhaps one day I find myself deep in the grip of a depression that I simply can't shake.  It might well be that the only way that I'm going be able to come through the depression and feel alive again is by acknowledging my feeling side — all those years of unacknowledged and suppressed feelings.  This is going to require a big change in the way that I see myself, and a lot of open-ness to dimensions of my life that I've previously done my very best to cut off.  It isn't going to be easy.  Parts of me are really going to resist.  But it may well be that it's the only way that I'm going to get my real, meaningful life back.

Similarly, a person who is all about willpower and control may well have to acknowledge the parts of him- or herself in the unconscious that they can't control.  They may have to admit that the ego is going to have to acknowledge that it is "second banana" to the Self, and let things emerge from their dreams and from other parts of the unconscious, and take those things into account in the way that they live their lives.  This might be quite difficult, but it might just give them a meaningful life again.

Hitting the Wall 2 for Vibrant Jung Thing Blog Many times "hitting the wall" has to do with coming up against the things that I really refuse to admit to myself.  The key to the lock that I need to open, I hide from myself, because there is some truth about myself or my situation that I really don't want to look at.

The only way past the wall is to be open to something new: the undiscovered self.

Please keep sending me your comments and your thoughts!  I would welcome any of your reflections on the "walls" in your life, past or present.  

My very best wishes to you on your individual journey to wholeness,

Brian Collinson


Website for Brian's Oakville and Mississauga Practice: www.briancollinson.ca 

Email: brian@briancollinson.ca

Get "Vibrant Jung Thing" posts delivered to your email using the "FeedBurner" box in the left column!

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© 2009 Brian Collinson    

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When You Hit a Brick Wall

July 9th, 2009 · Carl Jung, depression, depth psychology, Jungian analysis, Jungian psychology, life passages, midlife, psychological crisis, Psychology and Suburban Life, Psychotherapy, soul, stress, The Self, unconscious, wholeness

Often people get to the point in life where they reach an impasse, and they don’t know how to solve a particular situation in their lives.

Hitting the Wall 1 for Vibrant Jung Thing Blog

There doesn’t seem to be a way forward and there doesn’t seem to be a solution.  Although this can happen at any point in life, it seems particularly prevalent at mid-life.

Often, the way one becomes aware of this is that you just realize that the way that you have been trying to solve a particular problem or deal with a particular life situation just isn’t opening anything up.  What this tells you, at least in part, is that your attitude is no longer adapted to the realities of your life.
Now, please don’t misunderstand me.  I’m not saying something along the lines of “If you want it enough, and you’re unfailingly positive about it, what you want in your life will come” — the kind of message that you find in books like The Secret.  I think that approach to life is quite naive, and I have seen a fair number of people come to real harm as a result of trying to live like that.  Such an attitude can be really unadapted, and can lead you into a major collision in reality.  I know of one person who left home and found herself absolutely destitute and friendless in Dubai as a result of that kind of thinking.  From all that I hear, Dubai is not a great place to be penniless, and to try and get by on just a sunny smile.
Having an adapted attitude may well mean that there are certain realities that I have to let in and acknowledge.  That may even mean that there are things that I have to grieve.  What it may mean, above all, is that I have to change.
Let’s say that I’m a true died-in-the-wool “thinking type” person.  So I try to approach all the problems and situations in my life in very rational, thought-out, dispassionate ways.  Then perhaps one day I find myself deep in the grip of a depression that I simply can’t shake.  It might well be that the only way that I’m going be able to come through the depression and feel alive again is by acknowledging my feeling side — all those years of unacknowledged and suppressed feelings.  This is going to require a big change in the way that I see myself, and a lot of open-ness to dimensions of my life that I’ve previously done my very best to cut off.  It isn’t going to be easy.  Parts of me are really going to resist.  But it may well be that it’s the only way that I’m going to get my real, meaningful life back.
Similarly, a person who is all about willpower and control may well have to acknowledge the parts of him- or herself in the unconscious that they can’t control.  They may have to admit that the ego is going to have to acknowledge that it is “second banana” to the Self, and let things emerge from their dreams and from other parts of the unconscious, and take those things into account in the way that they live their lives.  This might be quite difficult, but it might just give them a meaningful life again.
 Hitting the Wall 2 for Vibrant Jung Thing Blog Many times “hitting the wall” has to do with coming up against the things that I really refuse to admit to myself.  The key to the lock that I need to open, I hide from myself, because there is some truth about myself or my situation that I really don’t want to look at.
The only way past the wall is to be open to something new: the undiscovered self.
Please keep sending me your comments and your thoughts!  I would welcome any of your reflections on the “walls” in your life, past or present.

My very best wishes to you on your individual journey to wholeness,

Brian Collinson

Website for Brian’s Oakville and Mississauga Practice: www.briancollinson.ca

Email: brian@briancollinson.ca

Get “Vibrant Jung Thing” posts delivered to your email using the “FeedBurner” box in the left column!

PHOTO CREDITS:  © Alexandr Tkachuk | Dreamstime.com ; © Kentoh | Dreamstime.com   

© 2009 Brian Collinson

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Can We Think From the Heart?

May 22nd, 2009 · inner life, Jungian psychology, The Self, wholeness

Here’s something that Jung writes in Memories, Dreams andWhere Do You Think for Vibrant Jung Thing Blog  Reflections that might seem to hit you right where you live.  That’s the effect it has on me, certainly.

It comes out of the time that Jung spent amongst the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico in the 1920s, where he became a friend of Ochway Biano, the chief of the Taos pueblos.  In recording the following conversation with Ochway Biano, and reflecting upon it, Jung may have been far in advance of his time:


“See” Ochway Biano said, “how cruel the whites look.  Their lips are thin, their noses sharp, their faces furrowed and distorted by folds.  Their eyes have a staring expression; they are always seeking something.  What are they seeking?  The whites always want something; they are always uneasy and restless.  We do not know what they want.  We do not understand them.  We think that they are mad.”

I asked him why he thought the whites were all mad. 

“They say that they think with their heads,” he replied.

“Why of course.  What do you think with?” I asked him in surprise.

“We think here,” he said, indicating his heart. [Italics mine]

I fell into a long meditation.  For the first time in my life, so it seemed to me, someone had drawn me a picture of the real white man.  It was as though until now I had seen nothing but sentimental, prettified color prints. This Indian had struck our vulnerable spot, unveiled a truth to which we are blind.


What would it be like to think with the heart, rather than the head?  What thoughts would your heart have, if you let it, right now, in this moment?
 

“The whites always want something.  They are always uneasy and restless.”  So often, we feel that what we’re we’re looking for is something external, something that we need, but we aren’t at all sure what it is.  Could it be that what you or I are desiring is actually something internal, something within us, that we haven’t explored yet?  Something of the heart?
 

Can I establish a dialogue with my inmost self, my heart?  What does it say to me?  What does it feel?
 

As always I welcome the comments of those who read, and any suggestions or possible topics that you might have.  Thank you for taking the time to read  my postings!

 

My very best wishes to you on your individual journey to wholeness,

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist and Jungian Analyst


Website for Brian’s Oakville and Mississauga Practice: www.briancollinson.ca 

Email: brian@briancollinson.ca

Get “Vibrant Jung Thing” posts delivered to your email using the “FeedBurner” box in the left column!

 

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eliciano
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The Mirror of Relationship

May 18th, 2009 · Carl Jung, depression, depth psychology, Identity, Individuation, life passages, Meaning, midlife, Psychotherapy, Relationships, soul, The Self, unlived life, wholeness

Mirror of Relationships for Vibrant Jung Thing He woke up one day, and realized that he didn't recognize his marriage, his partner or himself.  He realized that things had gone on in a certain way for years and years, but that for a long time now, he had just been going through the motions.  

Certainly, he loved his kids, now in their early teens, and was a very giving parent.  He knew he wanted good things for them, was prepared to make all kinds of sacrifices for them, and could not bear the thought of hurting them.  Outside of the relationship with the kids, though, what was there that remained positive, or that had any life in it?

He thought of his wife and felt that he had nothing in common with her anymore.  It was almost painful these days to spend time together.  She seemed so different from the woman that he had been in love with, all those years ago.  He could remember how thrilled he had been to be with her, to share things with her, and just to talk early in their relationship.  It had been so intoxicating!  But now there was little that they enjoyed doing together.

With pangs of sharp feeling, he realized that he himself had changed.  The young adult "keener" who had worked so hard to supply all the material things, and who had sought to advance himself any way he could had disappeared now.  In that person`s place was someone who among other things, realized that he was not immortal, and who wanted the things that he did with his life and his time to count — to be meaningful to him.  And right now what he was experiencing in his relationship was not meaningful, and was not making him feel good that he was alive.

The experience of this man is not uncommon.  He could just as easily be a woman, or a partner in a gay or lesbian relationship.  In our current world of shifting relationships, people are now often much readier to acknowledge when relationships and marriages are no longer working.  This is not to say that such awareness comes easily: it may often be a very difficult matter for a partner when they finally have to admit to themselves that their relationship, once so full of hope, is now a shell of its former self.

When such awareness dawns, there is usually no going back from it.  It may be that the couple concerned will end their relationship, or it may be that the relationship will change dramatically  One thing that you can be very sure of: the relationship that used to exist has outlived itself, and is dead and gone. Something new, either within or without the relationship, must now emerge.

QUESTIONS FOR WHEN YOU FIND YOURSELF IN THE RELATIONSHIP CRUCIBLE:

1.  Who has changed in the relationship?  Me?  My partner?  Both of us?

2.   How did I see my partner when we first got together?  What attracted me to my partner?  How do I see my partner now?

3.  Do I see my partner realistically?  What are the aspects of him/her that I don't acknowledge, or that I don't understand?

4.  Are there aspects of myself that I see in my partner.  Are there aspects of anyone else that I recognize in him or her.

5.  What am I really yearning for in relationship.

Dreamstime_573697 The journey of therapy very often starts in the crucible of relationship, or leads through it.  In many different ways, relationship can catalyze a deeper connection with the depths of the self.

Thank you to clients and readers alike who have shared with me aspects of their lives in relationship over the years.  As always I welcome readers comments ànd I thank you for taking the time to read.

My very best wishes to you on your individual journey to wholeness,

Brian Collinson


Website for Brian's Oakville and Mississauga Practice: www.briancollinson.ca 

Email: brian@briancollinson.ca

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© 2009 Brian Collinson    


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Anxiety, Depression and My Own Truth

April 15th, 2009 · Anxiety, archetypal experience, Carl Jung, depression, depth psychology, Individuation, Jungian psychology, Meaning, Psychotherapy, stress, wholeness

According to a recent New York Times article, people in North America are finding their lives more and more embroiled in anxiety.  This is a social trend that started prior to the start of the economic downturn, and which has been increasing since that time, if the mass media are to be believed.

The Times article  cites the exaAnxiety Depression and My Own Truthmple of one woman who found herself more and more in the grip of panic attacks, which impelled her "to read every single economic report" — not an uncommon response.  It seems quite possible that this obsession with economic information could create a vicious cycle: in response to her anxiety, the woman might read more economic reporting, which in turn could be expected to further elevate her anxiety.  And so on, potentially without end.

This brings us to a very fundamental question.  As individuals, are we prepared to accept the assessments of social scientists, journalists and economic and business experts, when it comes to the most basic attitudes that we will have to our lives?

Jung has something interesting to say about this.  It is couched in the gender usage conventions of the past (1957), for which I ask your understanding.  Nonetheless, his point is clear, and as relevant today as it was then:

"…[A] man is not complete when he lives in a world of statistical truth.  He must live in the world of his mythological truth [italics mine], and that is not merely statistics.  it is the expression of what he really is, and what he feels himself to be.  A man without mythology is merely a product of statistics, as it were, an average phenomenon.  Our natural science makes everything into an average … while the truth is that the carriers of life are individuals, not average numbers.  And, of course, all the individual qualities are wiped out, and that is most unbecoming….  It deprives people of their specific values, of the most important experiences of their life, where they experience their own value, the creative background of their own personality."

"The Houston Films" in McGuire, William, and Hull, R.F.C., eds., C.G. Jung Speaking (Princeton: University Press, 1977)

What is the dominant story that I choose to live under?  If I accept my life story as told by Anxiety Depression and My Own Truth 2 the mass media, I am a very small speck indeed, swept up in the great currents of economics, social trends and technological change.  My living and dying will be a matter of negligible significance.  I will be only a statistic.

But what if I make a determination to look for my story elsewhere, and to give that story my energy, my love and my trust?  What if my dreams impart to me some additional sense of the meaning of my life, of who I am, and what I really value?  To attempt to see my own myth, as not something so much consciously created, as a story made up, but as something that I am only partially capable of understanding, that emerges over time from the reality of my own life and my own psyche.

Real therapy, therapy that makes a fundamental difference, connects me to the deep story of my life.

I would welcome your input, comments or any sharing of your personal experience as you seek to encounter your own myth.

My very best wishes to each of you on your individual journeys to wholeness,

Brian Collinson

Website for Brian's Oakville and Mississauga Practice: www.briancollinson.ca 

Email: brian@briancollinson.ca

Get "Vibrant Jung Thing" posts delivered to your email using the "FeedBurner" box in the left column!

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© 2009 Brian Collinson 

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Dreaming About the Self as a House

April 9th, 2009 · Carl Jung, depth psychology, dreams, Jungian psychology, Psychotherapy, soul, symbolism, The Self, wholeness

Carl Jung had the following dream when he was about to embark on a new path in his psychological work. The dream is of a type that is familiar to Jungian therapists, as it is a kind of dream that many people have, sometimes at key turning points in their lives.

I'll be interested to hear from people reading, to find out if any of them have had this kind of dream, and when it occurred in their lives.  Possibly you've had such a dream recently.

"Before I discovered alchemy, I had a series of dreams which repeatedly dealt Dreaming About the Self as a Housewith the same theme.  Beside my house stood another, that is to say, another wing or annex, which was strange to me.  Each time I would wonder in my dream why I did not know this house, although it had apparently always been there.  

"Finally, there came a dream in which I reached the other wing.  I discovered there a wonderful library, dating largely from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  Large, fat folio volumes, bound in pigskin, stood along the walls.  Among them were a number of books embellished with copper engravings of a strange character, and illustrations containing curious symbols such as I had never seen before.  At the time I did not know to what they referred; only much later did I recognize them as alchemical symbols.  In the dream I was conscious only of the fascination exerted by them and by the entire library.  It was a collection of medieval incunabula and sixteenth-century prints.

Dreaming About the Self as a House 2

"The unknown wing of the house was a part of my personality, an aspect of myself; it represented something that belonged to me but of which I was not yet conscious…."

"The Work" in Jung, C.G., Jaffe, Aniela, ed. and Winston, Richard & Clara., transs.,

Memories, Dreams and Reflections (New York: Vintage Books, 1989), p. 202

 

In a time of uncertainty and doubt in a life, perhaps a time of economic anxiety, such dreams frequently come to people.  Jung's dream is a magnificent specimen and it illustrates how dreams can work to comment on, or as Jung says, to "compensate" the conscious position or attitude that we have in our lives at the time of the dream.
 
Jung's dream of a new wing on his house related to his discovery of alchemy, but the motif or theme of a new wing on our house, a door that suddenly appears and which leads into a new room — this is something that we find frequently in the dreams of people.
 
I would like to ask everyone reading:
 
What might be the "new wing in your house", the unexplored part of your personality?
 
Have you ever had a dream of a house, and a new wing or door suddenly appearing in your house?
 
When did such a dream happen?  What was going on in your life at that time?  Was it at a time of major change in your life?
 
I would welcome your input, comments and thoughts on these things.
 

My very best wishes to each of you on your individual journeys to wholeness,

Brian Collinson

Website for Brian's Oakville and Mississauga Practice: www.briancollinson.ca 

Email: brian@briancollinson.ca

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Stress, Anxiety and Basic Trust PART TWO: Coming to Terms with the Fates and Furies

April 1st, 2009 · Anxiety, Carl Jung, depth psychology, Identity, Individuation, inner life, Jungian analysis, Jungian psychology, Meaning, soul, stress, The Self, wholeness

Stress for Vibrant Jung THing

In Part One on this subject, I looked at the connection between stress and our relationship to our own deepest being, the Self.  In this post, I examine the way that stress plays out in our daily lives, and some possible ways in which we can reduce the impact of stress.

In these economically stress-laden times, it's possible to feel ourselves getting more and more drawn into fear.  The economic news plays right into one area of sensitivity that nearly everyone has: the money complex.  Money, wealth, prosperity, "having enough" — these are all very emotionally laden concepts and symbols.  The continual diet of dark economic news that we are subjected to recently plays right into our deepest fears about our security, and for many people conjures up feelings and traumas that have their deep roots in the family of origin.

Touchstones In the Midst of Stress

1.  Are you keeping up your connections with friends, and people you love and cherish?  Do you need to renew your contacts with people who care about you?

Staying involved with friends and people who are close to you is a great way to feel connected and grounded, and to keep your focus.  Isolation can lead to increased obsession with worry and fear.  Are you staying in touch with the people who matter to you?  Are you enjoying their company?  Are you making the distinction between superficial contact with others and being deeply in touch with those who love you.

2. Are you staying connected to ultimate things?

What about your ultimate values?  For most of us there is something that is of fundamental importance in life, whether you call it God, Goddess, the Self, the Ground of Being or Truth.  Whatever symbols are meaningful to you, connecting with them can give a sense of value and stability to life.  For many people, the sense that there is a destiny for me, something which is seeking to emerge in my life — which will emerge in my life — is a source of hope and strength in the face of anxiety.

3. What about connecting to your physical self? 

Whether it is through exercise, yoga, or some form of body work, connecting with and experiencing your body can bring reduced overall tension and fatigue in your body.  This is certainly true, but even more importantly, experience of the body can help me feel real and substantial.  It can even help me feel like I have a home in the universe, that I belonghere.  In the face of the sense of financial threat, which some on the religious right are even prepared to characterize as the judgment of an angry and wrathful father God, connection with the body can bring awareness of our connection and rootedness in the Great Mother.  We can share a sense that our life is a participation in what Matthew Fox has called the "original blessing" of the universe, rather than a sense of condemnation and festering guilt and fear.

4. How are you relating to your creative and imaginal self?

In the midst of our current lives, the greater Self is seeking to come into realization.  The ways it does this usually have to do with different kinds of awareness, and differentSculpture for Vibrant Jung Thingapproaches to our inner life and to the outer world than we habitually use.  If we can work with those different ways of experiencing, it can help greatly with feeling grounded and feeling real.  Many people find that working with clay, painting, making music dancing or other creative and imaginative "ways" or methods can bring a sense of rootedness and reality to their lives.  Also, it can be of great value to engage in active imagination, but I do not recommend that you use this technique without the assistance of someone who has been thoroughly trained in Jungian analysis.

My very best wishes to each of you on your individual journeys to wholeness,

Brian Collinson

Websitefor Brian's Oakville and Mississauga Practice: www.briancollinson.ca ; Email: brian@briancollinson.ca

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© 2009 Brian Collinson 

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Real Alchemy: Jung, Psychological Growth & Individuation

March 19th, 2009 · Carl Jung, depth psychology, Individuation, Jungian analysis, Jungian psychology, Psychology, Psychotherapy, soul, wholeness

individuation

Here’s a quotation from Jung that’s quite brief, but it says a mouthful:

“The opus (work) consists of three parts: insight, endurance and action.  Psychology is needed only in the first part, but in the second and third parts, moral strength plays the predominant role…”

Jung is here describing the individuation process.  What he observes is very important.  For him, the process of psychological growth begins with psychological insight into the situations of our lives, but insight all on its own doesn’t really give us much that makes a difference.

One of the fantasies that people can have when they enter therapy — I know that I had it — is that somehow, I’m going to have some blinding revelatory insight that in one fell swoop is going to shake me to the very core, and that I’m going to be changed forever more as a result.  Jung is quite right: this doesn’t usually happen.

It’s quite possible to have huge insights that lead us to see our lives in a very different light.  But we have to make them real, to bring what they teach us right down into the midst of our lives.  And that takes some genuine hard work and courage.

When we have the insight, we have to hang onto it.  That can be quite difficult.  The whole previous pattern of how we have responded in a certain type of situation, what Jungians call the complexes, will work on us to push us back into the rut of perceiving and reacting to situations in the same old way.  It may even be hard to hang onto or to remember the insight that occurred in therapy when we are back in the all-too-familiar situations in our lives.

This is where endurance is needed. 

 

It can be painful to look at our lives and our situations in the light of the new insight.  If I realize, for instance, that instead of my image of myself as a strong autonomous person who independently solves problems, I actually do a great many things that constitute pleasing people, and that I’m unable to say “No” in situations in my life where I need to establish boundaries, it may be a painful realization.  I may not like to see myself that way.  However, if I want to grow, I have to accept that, yes, this is how I respond in those situations.  I have to know that, and to observe myself in the situation, and then I have to respond.

Finally, if I want to change things in my life, if I want to become more myself, I have toAlchemy 2 for Vibrant Jung Thing take action.  If I recognize that I truly have tended to please people to the detriment of myself in a certain situation, then I have to change how I am in the situation.  I have to be willing to resist my natural tendency to fall into the old pattern, and I have to enter into something new and unexplored.  This is quite possibly going to be scary, and its entirely possible that I might make mistakes, or do things in ways that I might later decide that I want to correct or change.  But to the degree that I can hold onto my new course, it’s surprising how life can sometimes intervene to help me find my new way.

This is the pattern that is involved in doing “the work”.  It isn’t easy, but, in the end, it can result in a sense of vitality and meaning in my life, where before, things felt only dead and flat.

My very best wishes to each of you on your individual journeys to wholeness,

Brian Collinson

Website for Brian’s Oakville and Mississauga Practice: www.briancollinson.ca ; Email: brian@briancollinson.ca

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© 2009 Brian Collinson 

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