Journeying Toward Wholeness

Vibrant Jung Thing Blog

Jungian Therapy, Stress Reduction & Perfectionism

November 17th, 2011 · Jungian, Jungian therapy, perfectionism, stress, stress reduction

stress reduction

There is a clear link between stress reduction and perfectionism, when these two things are viewed from the perspective of Jungian therapy.

Roots of Perfectionistic Stress

Often perfectionism and much associated stress are rooted in complexes, those “knots” or “eddies” of feeling toned energy in our minds, that often have their roots in traumatic occurrences.

 Never Enough

Often, the negative side of the father, mother or family complexes can lead to a continual sense that whatever we do or produce is not enough.  Another factor in the continual striving to make what we do better can be the shadow, which is the sum total of all those aspects of ourselves that we don’t wish to acknowledge.  Our anxiety about these unacknowledged aspects of ourselves can drive us to strive ever more relentlessly to try to cover our weakness and imperfection.

Unrealistic expectations for ourselves are rooted in a lack of willingness to accept our own fundamental nature, with its particular strengths and weaknesses. This is a kind of pride.

The Sisyphus Agenda

In Greek myth, because of his pride, Sisyphus is eternally condemned to push a heavy rock up to the top of a mountain.  He never can finish the task, and the rock continually rolls back downhill, and must be raised again. The eternal exhaustion and frustration of Sisyphus are an apt image for the struggle and stress of perfectionism.

Often, our own perfectionism can have this feeling of an endlessly wearing, endlessly frustrating ordeal.  I know I have rolled the rock of perfectionism up the endlessly defeating hill more than a time or two in the past!

Accepting Ourselves and the World

Recently, a Facebook friend, Paulette Turcotte, posted “Anthem” by Leonard Cohen on her wall.  The song is a remarkable commentary on perfectionism, and on our need to accept the shadowy and broken dimensions of life.

Cohen’s lyrics are profoundly expressive:

Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack, a crack in everything…

That’s how the light gets in, that’s how the light gets in

We don’t get perfection in this life, either inside of ourselves, or outside.  If we can accept this, and have some compassion for ourselves, then perhaps we can make some peace with the demands that we make on ourselves, and equally importantly, set appropriate boundaries for the demands that others make on us.

PHOTO:  © All rights reserved by New Visions2010
VIDEO:  “Anthem”, by Leonard Cohen © 2011 Sony Music Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

 

© 2011 Brian Collinson
2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, ON (near Mississauga

 

 

 

→ 1 Comment

Psychotherapy for Work Related Stress: 4 Realities

October 20th, 2011 · stress, work, work related stress

work related stress

Psychotherapy for work related stress is increasingly essential for many people.  In our present era of privation and job uncertainty, it is abundantly apparent that work stress has more than purely psychological consequences, and deeply impacts the physical well-being of workers — for stress is a mind-body phenomenon.  A recent article from the Manchester Guardian on a report on a U.K. survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)  shows that worries about job losses have caused stress to become the most common cause of long-term sick leave in Britain.

Now, these statistics are for the U.K.  Is it similar in North America?  The fact is, it is similar enough.

Here are 4 factors pointing to the urgency of finding ways to address work related stress.

1. Work Related Stress Can be a Personal Crisis

Stress related to work accumulates in ways that cause emotional damage to workers.  In particular, there is a growing body of evidence that shows that continued anxiety over job loss is even more damaging emotionally than actual job loss.

2. Self Esteem is Involved

When dealing with something as fundamental as work identity, continual anxiety about job loss can easily engender endless anxiety about the self.  The question of self-esteem can be relentless for someone dealing with these issues.

3. Work-Related Stress Can Bring Serious Illness

In a similar way, serious stress can and does lead to serious illness.  Stress reduction research has clearly established the connection to coronary disease, ulcers and many other  illnesses.  It’s essential for the individual facing such stress to avoid these extremely negative consequences.

4. There are Deep Questions Within Work Stress

Work stress opens up questions that we would rather not face.  The most fundamental of these are around resilience in the face of great fear and stress, and also around maintaining a sense of abiding personal identity, in the face of grave assaults on personal dignity, our sense of ability to control our lives, and our self worth.  It is in these areas that psychotherapy can have the greatest and most lasting effect.  The particular message of Jungian psychotherapy, that the Self is something greater and more lasting than the ego, and is drawing us towards a meaningful wholeness that we cannot fully anticipate, can be something that is essential for us to experience in our turbulent and demanding times.

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

→ No Comments

Jungian psychotherapy as therapy for anxiety

May 27th, 2011 · Anxiety, counselling, Jungian psychotherapy, Psychotherapy, therapy for anxiety

therapy for anxiety

Finding an effective therapy for anxiety is greatly important in our time.  Auden labelled our era “The Age of Anxiety”, and for good reason.  Many certainties — economic, political, moral, work, religious — have now evaporated.  In many situations, people find themselves not knowing what to expect next.  Anxious states are the normal outcome of this kind of life situation.

We have to confront a number of plain facts.

  • Anxiety is an Unavoidable Part of Life

Therapy will never completely eliminate it.  If it did, we would soon be dead.  The experience of a certain anxiousness is what keeps us alert and engaged with life.  What we need is the ability to deal with it so that it stays within sustainable bounds, and doesn’t overwhelm our lives.

  • Normal Anxious States and Crippling Anxiety are Different

Experiences of manageable anxiousness differ greatly from experiences likeo panic attacks and social anxiety, which can completely disrupt life.  While everyone experiences some anxius feelings moving through life, a person with crippling anxiety may be unable to move through life, or may confront grave obstacles to truly living.

  • Our Experience of the General Insecurity of Life Makes Us Anxious

There are many things for which there are no guarantees in life.  The more uncontrollable the situation, and the bigger the stakes, the more anxiety we confront.  This uncontrollability and the perceived size of the risk are very subjective factors.  A person can be held hostage by anxiety about a risk that seems very real to them, but not to others.  To truly deal with anxiety involves taking our own subjective states very seriously

  • The Only Way to Really Deal with Anxiety is to Get to its Source.  That Takes Courage and Hard Work.

Anxious affect often comes into our lives because it is protecting us from feeling or experiencing something else.  An anxious state may also represent our bottled-up energy or potentiality.  As Jungian analyst James Hollis puts it, “What I can make conscious, face directly, and deal with as an adult, frees me from unconscious bondage to the past…. We gain when we are able to move from the anxiety, which, like a fog, obscures the forward path.”

Anxious experience is rooted in the depths of the psyche.  Only through experiencing our own depths can we begin to move beyond it.

How have you experienced anxiety, in yourself or others?  I welcome your comments.

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst

Main Website for Brian’s Oakville and Mississauga Practice

1-905-337-3946

PHOTO:  NoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by theloushe
© 2011 Brian Collinson
2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga )

→ No Comments

Stress, Power, Resilience — and Myth, Part 2: Getting Real

October 25th, 2010 · Anxiety, depth psychology, Existential crisis, Jungian analysis, Jungian psychology, Meaning, Psychology, Psychology and Suburban Life, psychotherapist, Psychotherapy, stress, therapy

Recently, I started a series of posts about the growth of resilience, which is a very key part of the work of psychotherapy.  I’d like to share a personal experience of mine through which I became changed, and, I believe, much more resilient.  It’s not that I’m trying to suggest that I’ve “got it all figured out”, or that this set of experiences gave me “the key to life” — mine or anybody else’s.  But I do believe that this was an experience that affected me deeply, that it cost me a great deal, and that I genuinely grew through it.

Resilience is directly connected to our convictions at the deepest level about our lives — our basic trust.  And sometimes life can shake what we believe about our own individual lives to the very core.  I had occasion to learn this in a period between my mid-20s and early 30s.

The Journey to Upside Down

At the time this experience occurred, I was a  highly religious person, in a liberal Christian tradition.  I had a very clear conception of my life: how things had unfolded according to plan, and how they would continue to do so into the future.  I was recently happily married, and my wife and I had a baby on the way.

Then the baby arrived, and we learned that he was born pretty close to about as deaf as a child can be.

Suddenly, everything that I thought I knew about my life was turned upside down.  Through this crisis, everything I had hitherto believed about the nature of God, the world, suffering, even evil, and what was meaningful in life was shaken to the core.

Now, I’m not foolish enough to think that having a deaf child is the worst that can happen to a person.  Far, far from it.  It can get unbelievably more painful and difficult than that, I well know.  Nonetheless, when this happened to me, I was completely devastated.  I literally did not know which way to turn, and, for a long time, I seriously doubted that I would ever be happy — or even ever smile — again.

Life Crisis

I also know that, as the years went by, I was also plunged into a more and more  profound crisis of faith and life — an existential crisis, as they say.  It was not so much a question of “why me?”  With the crisis around my son’s deafness, it was as if scales had fallen from my eyes, and I was finally seeing for the first time the depth of the suffering in the world.  In fact, I was seeing it very clearly and close up in the very people with whom I was working.  It was deeply apparent to me now how many people were struggling with so very much more than they knew how to handle, or felt that they could handle.  The question I found myself struggling with on the deepest level was much more, “How can there be a loving God, if this kind of thing happens to any one at all?”

By the time I was 30, I was completely shaken out of the very comfortable life path that I had seen mapped out for me.  Nothing was left of it.  It was apparent to me that life was never going to be possible with the old outlook I had once had.  At about that time, I made some very major changes in virtually every aspect of my life — faith, career, relationships — and moved in a new direction.

Rash, Raw, Risky … Lost

I didn’t know what was waiting for me, and I was making all kinds of rash decisions, without regard for the risks.  In many ways I was raw, and I wore my anger, my pain and my sense of betrayal on my sleeve, often for all to see.  My despair and cynicism were probably at their height at this point.

What I didn’t know, and couldn’t see, was that something was changing inside myself.  At the time, I could not have described to you what this change was, but it was real and it was deep.  It would take years for me to even begin to understand what was emerging in my life.  In my next blog post, Stress, Power, Resilience — and Myth, Part 3: A Story of My Own, I’ll attempt to share with you something of what that change really meant.

Have You Had This Kind of Experience?

I am sure that many of my readers have had to confront real adversity or real crisis in their own lives.  I would respectfully welcome any of your comments on what it was like to cope with such things.  How did such experiences change you?  As always, I gratefully welcome any of your reflections.

Wishing you peace and resilience on your personal journey to wholeness,

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst

PHOTO CREDIT: © Elena Ray | Dreamstime.com

© 2010 Brian Collinson

→ 1 Comment