Journeying Toward Wholeness

Vibrant Jung Thing Blog

Jungian Therapy & the Second Half of Life, 2: Desire

February 27th, 2012 · Jungian, Jungian therapy, second half of life, therapy

We tend to think that desire declines in the second half of life, but Jungian therapy challenges us as to whether that is really true.

Jungian therapy

As life goes on, there are actually some things that we yearn for with greater and greater intensity, and they may well have a profound importance for our psychic wholeness.

second half of life

Is Blake a bit extreme here?  Perhaps… but if we are talking about our heart’s real yearning, especially in the second half of life  — is he really wrong?

What We Fundamentally Desire Embodies Who We Are

What we most fundamentally yearn for hugely effects the forward movement of our lives.  Jungian therapy knows that our desires often comes from the deepest parts of the self, including the unconscious, in ways that we may not readily understand.  Our desire powerfully embodies the way we actually are in the world.

Wholeness, Yearning and Desire

In his Red Book,  Jung tells us that desire is “image and expression of the soul.”  (By “soul” he means the essence of who we are, or personality, rather than anything metaphysical.)  If desire is the expression of soul, and expresses our feeling, then it has immense importance for us during the midlife transition and the second half of life.  To explore fundamental desires, and to live them out, is connected with being who we are, in an essential way.

The Unexpected Attractor

The unexpected desire may be the most important.  Sometimes, in the second half of life, the individual finds him or herself attracted to things that seem completely unexpected, even inconsistent with desires at earlier life stages.  Yet, sifting through these “strange attractors” and unfamiliar desires, and possibly living them out, may be essential for the journey towards wholeness.

Hidden Desire and Imagination

Much art concerns yearning, often hidden desire and the ways in which it is fundamentally enfolded in imagination.  An important dimension of growth in the second half of life can be the process of letting desire speak through imagination, and realizing that imagination possesses a fundamental reality.  As Jung says:

 


Our desire is a powerful thing, and it matters to our lives.  Jungian therapy can be a key part of exploring desire, and entering into the fulness of who we are, and are meant to be, in the second half of life.

How have your deepest desires changed through the course of your life?

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PHOTOS:  Attribution  Some rights reserved by worak ; Attribution Some rights reserved by milena mihaylova

 

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Jungian Therapy & the Second Half of Life, 1: Openness

February 21st, 2012 · Jungian, Jungian therapy, second half of life, therapy

I’ve always wanted to do a series on how Jungian therapy approaches the second half of life.  This is the time in our life from the onset of psychological midlife on.  For the first post, I’ve chosen the challenge of openness.

Jungian therapy

Growing older can tempt us to close ourselves off from new kinds of awareness and new possibilities for living.  How do we avoid this, and stay open, alive and aware?

Below are four insights about openness and the second half of life.

Coping with the Current of Life

Sometimes the current gets rough.  I can easily be overwhelmed with all that life brings over the bow in the second stage of adulthood.  Kids facing the challenges of the teen years, and of moving out into the adult world, and then the reality of empty nest.  Ever-changing and less stable work life.  For many, the end of marriages and partnerships, sometimes of long standing.  Achievement of some dreams, and the recognition that others will never come about.  The feeling of passing time, and anxiety about life slipping away.

The Temptation to Disengagement

As we get older and confront these challenges, there can be a slow, subtle, almost unconscious temptation to pull back from the world.  Without even being aware we’re doing it, we can end up holding ourselves aloof from what is going on around us, sometimes feeling betrayal, disillusion or disgust.  It wouldn’t be “cool” to admit it to others, yet this can often occur.  Which is tragic, because we can miss the real substance of our lives.

Seductions of Rigidity

We can find ourselves slowly taking a more and more rigid stance in life, slowly falling victim to unbending opinions, unwillingness to really listen to others who differ from ourselves, and resisting coping with change and anything new.  This kind of psychological rigidity can amount to a kind of living death.

Open-ness and the Undiscovered Self

To stay vitally alive, I need to respond openly to others, to the outside world, and, above all, to the undiscovered and unacknowledged aspects of my self — the shadow.  Dream images often reflect how unacknowledged aspects of the self are trying to come into consciousness.  There are possibilities in each of us that strive to be lived out, and to bring us into an going affirmation of life.

second half of life

How do you keep yourself open in the second half of life?  I’d welcome your comments.

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PHOTOS:  AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works  Some rights reserved by BobbiLe Ba Photography & Cards
© 2012 Brian Collinson 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, ON (near Mississauga)

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Depth Psychotherapy, Stress Reduction & the Holidays

December 8th, 2011 · depth psychotherapy, Psychotherapy, stress, stress reduction

Stress reduction during the Holidays: can a depth psychotherapy perspective help with keeping the season genuine and human?

depth psychotherapy

I hear from many people in many ways at this time of year how hard it can be to stay true to oneself.  People find it hard to stay with how they really feel; to keep to what they want for themselves, instead of being driven by others’ expectations; and, to stay with their own genuine spirituality.

 

Approaching the season in the spirit of depth psychotherapy, here are 4 potentially important elements.

Honest Connection, Not “Going Through the Motions”

Relationships with others in the holiday season can be routine, rather than genuinely connected.  Sometimes I would really rather not see a particular person at all; experiences of betrayal or violation by family members, for instance, can generate such feelings.  Or, it may be painful to pretend to be as others rigidly expect me to be.

These holidays, could my stress reduction involve making my connections with others reflect how I really feel in my depths?

Authenticity, Not Conventionality

Similarly, my holiday activities might be motivated by what I’m expected to do, rather than what I really want.  How free can I be this year to do what genuinely matters to me?

More Living, Not More Stuff

We all know the ever-growing marketing pressure to buy more at this season.  Underlying this compulsive push is a powerful fantasy: the idea that owning the right things will lead to an imaginary good life of fulfillment.  But maybe the key to our fulfillment has much more to do with what we experience.  How could I alter my holiday season to experience more, in order to feel more alive?

Depth of Feeling, Not Sentimentality

The holiday season is often full of hackneyed sentimentality, both sacred and secular.  I can feel a lot of pressure to feel what I’m “supposed” to feel, rather than what I actually do feel.  This doesn’t mean that I have to be cynical; in our era that can be a canned sentiment, too.  What do I genuinely feel and think as I reflect about myself, the season, those close to me, and my journey?

Father Christmas” by Emerson, Lake and Palmer expresses these psychological truths:

 

My very best wishes for the Holiday season,

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PHOTO: © Wessel Du Plooy | Dreamstime.com
MUSIC: “I Belive in Father Christmas”, Greg Lake © 1975  Atlantic Records  All Rights Reserved.
© 2011 Brian Collinson
2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, ON (near Mississauga

 

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