Journeying Toward Wholeness

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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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© 2012 Brian Collinson 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, ON (near Mississauga)

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Jungian Psychotherapy with Older Adults : 6 Lessons Learned

May 15th, 2011 · Jungian psychotherapy, later adulthood, psychotherapy with older adults

 

Psychotherapy with older adults raises many unique issues.  Jungian psychotherapy actually developed first as a form of psychotherapy with older adults, and embodies very important learnings about the second half of life.

 

  • Simple but True: It’s Different When You’re Older

Living is simply not the same in the 40s, 50s and 60s as it was in earlier stages of life.  Often changes are starting to occur as children are getting older.  The priorities that have governed peoples’ lives in the first part of their adulthood are shifting — often substantially and permanently.  The things people need to find meaningful life at this stage are fundamentally different than the concerns of people in their 20s.

  • You Know You Don’t Have All the Answers

By mid life, many people are acutely aware of many unanswered questions in life, which are not going to be easily answered.  They realize they aren’t going  to “figure it all out” in a neat and tidy way.  They need orientation and solid grounding to help deal with the mysteries of life.

  • What You Decide Counts

Individuals at this stage also realize that decisions and directions taken on the journey now really count.  In an earlier stage it might be possible to make and revise key decisions.  This gets less and less easy as life goes on.  What we decide is fateful.  It’s essential to make the right choices for ourselves.

  • Letting Go of the Superficial

This is linked with identifying and staying with the things that really matter to us.  Much in later life can feel distracting and irrelevant, with not enough time for the things of greatest value.  It’s important to focus in on what really matters to ourselves personally.

  • The Undiscovered Self

But to know what really matters to us requires that we know who we are.  Our perception of who we are may very well start to change as we move through middle into later life.  It’s essential that we connect with our hitherto undiscovered self, if we wish to have the feeling of being grounded in our lives.

  • Finding What’s Individually Yours

All of this points to a deep need to be aware of who we uniquely are.  As we face the challenges of the second half of life, we need to be grounded in that identity.  Jungian psychotherapy is especially well-equipped to enable that journey.

What are your key learnings and questions as you move through the second half of your life?  I’d love to hear.

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

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Jungian Psychotherapy for Midlife Issues

May 2nd, 2011 · help for midlife issues, midlife, midlife issues, psychotherapy for midlife issues

Of the available options for dealing with midlife issues, why choose Jungian psychotherapy?  The answer hinges on how we understand midlife, that period from the mid-/ later 30s, to the late 50s.

help for midlife issues

While the phrase “midlife crisis” is cliché, there is nonetheless a great deal of psychological change and adjustment that goes on in this part of life.  The individual can either deny this, in which case, life risks lapsing into sterility, or these changes can be confronted and embraced, and a new orientation discovered.

Here are some of the factors that make Jungian psychotherapy particularly appropriate for midlife issues.

  • Jung Stressed the Importance of Midlife

Jung paid enormous attention to the midlife period in human life.  Subsequent Jungians have followed in his footsteps.  Midlife was a vitally important period in Jung’s own life, and his psychology emphasizes the unique character of the changes at midlife.

  • Jungian Psychotherapy has an In-Depth Understanding of Midlife

A Jungian approach is extremely sensitive to developments in middle life.  It recognizes fully that values and priorities that have sustained the individual previously are undergoing renewal, and that a whole new approach to life may be emerging.

  • Jung’s Approach Emphasizes the Individual Journey

Jungian psychotherapy never loses sight of the importance of the unique journey of the individual.  A Jungian approach always looks for, emphasizes and honours the factors that make a person unique. It acknowledges that the dilemmas that an individual experiences are going to have to be met by an individual and unique solution — not “one size fits all”.

  • Jungian Psychotherapy Takes the Unconscious Seriously

In addition to the conscious parts of the human being, there is much that is going on in the unconscious.  Some of these things may emerge at midlife, in one form or another.  Understanding and coming to terms with these elements of the self is often essential for healing at midlife.

  • Depth Psychotherapy Affirms that Midlife is Meaningful

Often the struggles at midlife can make life seem like chaos.  A Jungian approach emphasizes that meaning is trying to emerge, and, if nurtured, will emerge, in the individual’s life. Thus, it offers concrete hope for the individual.

What is Trying to Emerge for You at Midlife?

If you are entering, in, or moving beyond midlife, what is trying to emerge in your journey at this time?  What are your individual concerns?  I would welcome your comments and questions.

Wishing you a vital and meaningful middle passage on your journey toward wholeness,

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst

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PHOTO CREDIT:  © Peter Chigmaroff | Dreamstime.com
© 2011 Brian Collinson
2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Oakville / Mississauga border)

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