Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Jung’ Category

Image

Tomorrow is the last day of my first quarter of graduate school. The last ten weeks have been an interesting journey. The first three weeks were stressful and I began to question if I was truly cut out for grad school. Luckily, things fell into place and I felt like my old self. I was curious to see what life would be like in a clinical program devoid of depth psychology classes. I had a rough time at first. I was constantly arguing with and criticizing my textbooks. Many reading sessions involved me yelling at my book, slamming it shut, and then walking away to do something else to calm down. I swore I was going to write letters to all of the publishing companies and authors to let them know about their oversights. In retrospect, I can laugh at my frustration because it made me realize something important: Jung is my treble clef.

I have been playing piano for over 20 years. I rarely read music anymore, but when I do, I still struggle with reading the bass clef. The treble clef is easy because it’s the first one I learned. In fact, it’s probably the first one that most budding musicians learn. You know, the one where the spaces spell F-A-C-E and the lines are where Every Good Boy Does Fine. I can read the notes on a treble clef like I can read the words on this page. But the bass clef? Not so much.

The bass clef seems deceptively similar to the treble clef, but it’s not. Playing the bass line as a treble line is the recipe for a cacophonous disaster. The only way for me to navigate the fraternal twin bass clef is to transpose what I see. For instance, every note on the bass clef is three tones lower than it’s twin on the treble clef. What looks like an A is really a C, an F is really an A, and so on. In order to play properly, I have to use the treble clef that I know and love as my starting point. Every note I read on a bass clef is relative to my knowledge of the treble clef. Are you confused? (I’m hoping that I am not the only person who reads bass clef this way 😉

So what does this have to do with my graduate psychology program? Well, I am passionate about depth psychology, and, most specifically, analytical psychology, which most people call Jungian psychology. In my undergraduate program, I was very lucky to be able to take a multitude of depth psychology classes. It’s very, very rare to be able to study depth psychology in an undergrad program. As a result, I took as many depth psychology classes as I could. After all, my plan was to go on to Pacifica Graduate Institute, which is a school dedicated to depth psychological studies. But then my plans changed and I decided to stay in Seattle and do my masters degree here. The only problem was that my chosen program does not teach depth psychology. Luckily, I have a trick to help me make sense of all the new theories I am learning because I have discerned that Jung is my treble clef.

Each time I learn a new theory (and in my program it’s all family systems theory) I compare it with Jung’s ideas and see if I can find something approximate. If I can, and usually I do, then I catalog it in my mind’s eye. For example, what the object relations folks call “projective identification” is just plain ol’ “projection” as far as I’m concerned. And good and bad introjects are just the polarities of archetypes. At least, that’s how I see it. And, for now, it’s working for me.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

My whole life, I’ve considered myself to be an introvert of the card-carrying-you-can-tattoo-it-on-my-forehead-it’s-never-going-to-change variety. I never questioned my introvert status. In fact, in some ways it was like a security blanket I always carried around with me. Other times, I would use it as an excuse to not pursue more social activities. I was a hard-core introvert and nothing would ever change that. Or so I thought.

I recently completed a course in developmental psychology, in which my instructor mentioned that one’s personality is set by age three. Intrigued, I asked her if traumatic experiences could affect one’s personality. She replied that trauma could change one’s displayed personality; however, if the individual underwent psychotherapy, then the original personality would be restored. I was fascinated with this bit of information, especially because at recent Jung group meetings, we had discussed the differences between introverted personalities and extroverted personalities.

Our Jungian expert and facilitator explained that introvertism and extrovertism run on a continuum. Therefore, one could be an introvert but fall on the spectrum closer to the extrovert side. And in truth, the middle is the best place to be, because in traditional Jungian parlance, one-sidedness leads to neurosis. I began to think maybe the time had come to rethink my loyalty to the introvert club, but then the facilitator said something that really piqued my interest: we feel fatigued when we go against type. As such, social activities should make me feel tired or drained of energy. And this had been true in the past; however, I realized that recent social activities made me feel energized, rather than depleted. In fact, I had been preparing to give a 45-minute senior synthesis presentation—a feat that should have filled me fear and apprehension. Instead, I was excited about the public speaking engagement and was hoping to have a large audience. Clearly, I was working against my introvert nature, but I was not feeling fatigued. I felt as though I had made a definite shift on the introvert-extrovert continuum that had placed me closer to the extrovert side.

Another example of this shift came in my decision to apply for the Couple & Family Therapy graduate program instead of Clinical Mental Health Counseling. The Jung group facilitator says that CFT is about being a “Sage on a Stage,” whereas CMHC is for those wishing to be a “Guide on the Side.” I had always planned on applying for the CMHC program because I didn’t want to deal with a bunch of people in the room. But that was my hard-core introvert doing the thinking for me. I ultimately decided to do CFT because I want to work with children, especially those surviving violent home environments. Which brings me back to what my developmental psychology professor told me in class and the way I connected it to my history with agoraphobia.

Individuals are not born with agoraphobia. Agoraphobia typically develops in one’s early 20s, or the age when people start moving away from home and becoming independent. Jung said, “The more intensively the family has stamped its character upon the child, the more [the child] will tend to feel and see its earlier miniature world again in the bigger world of adult life.” Therefore, if home were a place where I was hurt as a child, then as an adult, I would perceive the world-at-large as a place where I could also be hurt. And so began the downward spiral of agoraphobia. In the same vein, what if I wasn’t always someone who avoided social situations? Many family members have told me I was always a happy, smiling child. What if my life experience turned my naturally extroverted-self into a person who displayed an introverted personality for over three decades? The math certainly adds up and while I still believe I am an introvert (and my Myers-Briggs type of INFJ would agree,) I have made a concerted effort to practice being an extrovert. After all, the way I ultimately overcame agoraphobia was to practice acting like someone who wasn’t afraid.

My senior synthesis presentation was an overwhelming success. Many people said that I looked like a natural public speaker and that I belonged leading a group. When I served jury duty last week, if selected to be on a jury, I was going to offer to be the foreman. My previous introvert-identified persona would never have dreamed of doing such things. And most importantly, these activities did not drain me of my energy. At the conclusion of my symposium, I wanted to do it all over again! For my final project for my lifespan development class, I opted to do a presentation and had a lot of fun sharing my topic with the class and enjoyed answering their questions.

I know many books and articles have come out recently to defend introverts. Certainly, being an introvert (or extrovert) is not bad or evil. But I encourage other card-carrying introverts to think about where they fall on the continuum and practice holding the opposite. When we can master holding the tension of the opposites, only then can we have wholeness.

Read Full Post »

The Asheville Jung Center has published a suggested reading list for the June 24th lecture on “The Creation of Symbolic Meaning on the Path to Individuation.”  A chapter of Warren Coleman’s will also be available for download when you register. I will be viewing the lecture but I can’t say I’ll be able to complete this reading list:

Bovensiepen, G (2002) Symbolic attitude and reverie: problems of symbolization in

children and adolescents. Journal of Analytical Psychology, Vol 47:2, 241-257

Colman, W. (2010) Dream Interpretation and the Creation of Symbolic Meaning.

In Jungian Psychoanalysis (ed. M. Stein), pp. 94-108.

Jung, C.G. The transcendent function. In CW 8, paras. 131-193.

________. The Tavistock Lectures, Lectures 3 and 4. In CW.18. Paras. 145-303.

________. The Symbolic Life. In CW 18, paras. 608-696.

________. “Symbol” in Definitions. In CW 6, paras. 814-829.

Ronnenberg, A. (ed.) (2010) The Book of Symbols.

Stein, M. (2009) Symbol as Psychic Transformer.  In Symbolic Life 2009 (ed. M. Stein),pp. 1-12.

Read Full Post »

Soul Purpose

I moved from Las Vegas to Seattle about three and a half years ago.  If you asked me then what my impetus was, I would have said Love.  And that fact remains as true today as it was before, but I now realize other factors were already in motion in the grand scheme of my life.  The wheels in the water of my unconscious were turning to guide me to my destiny one trickle of awareness at a time.  I know, I know, it sounds “woo woo” and “out there” but you’ll see.
I had a great sense of direction and ambition that gave me the ability to pack up all of my belongings (including a grand piano) and arrange to have them transported 1300 miles from the desert to the rainforest of the northwest.  Once I got here, the time came to unpack my life, both literally and figuratively.  Unpacking the boxes was easy part; once everything was sorted and placed I then had to figure out me and where I fit in this new environment.  The first step was to find a job, which turned out to be rather easy.  I took a retail customer service position and almost quit on my first day.  But I stuck with it and grew to quite like it but somewhere the shadow of my potential whispered that I was meant for something else.  Enter my first office job.  A co-worker told me about an office administrator position that was available at her other job.  I applied, interviewed and was hired.  If adjusting to the retail job was a struggle, then adjusting to the office job was climbing Mt. Everest in heels and a pashmina.  Nothing in my life could have ever prepared me for the abominations I would encounter in that small rented space.  Luckily, I had already been in therapy for a year, so I had someone to help guide me through the chaos.  I hate thinking about how I let myself put up with so much negativity, but in doing so I learned how to stand up for myself and voice my opinions.  I also learned that the work I did in therapy was transformative and I wanted to become a therapist myself to help others on their journeys.
Here’s where all they “woo-woo-it’s-my-destiny-stuff” comes into play.  I didn’t’ want to become a boring run-of-the-mill cognitive behavioral therapist, but a depth psychologist.  Depth psychology is the old school model that began with Freud.  The kind in which one searches the unconscious for the repressed content that can aid in healing.  My own therapist was a Jungian and the more I learned about Jung and experienced his theories at work in my life, the more I knew that I wanted to become a Jungian.  I understand that Jung quite famously said, “I am glad I am Jung and not a Jungian” but for the purposes of this tale I will happily wear the Jungian mantle.
I didn’t realize when I moved here or when I started therapy that Seattle has a large Jungian community.  The emerald city is home to a C.G. Jung Society, the Jungian Psychotherapists Association and the North Pacific Institute for Analytical Psychology.  Seattle is also home to one of the five Antioch University campuses in the country and the only campus to offer classes in depth psychology.  That’s right.  The only one.  You can study psychology at virtually any university in the country, but depth psychology is a different matter.  If one is to study depth psychology, it is usually in graduate school.  A professor at my Antioch orientation pointed out that Antioch is the “only school that offers depth psychology classes at the undergraduate level.”  Jung might say this was synchronicity, or a meaningful coincidence.  I’ll go one further and say it was Fate.
Just to be sure, I looked at other undergrad psychology programs offered by various universities and sure enough, they did not offer depth psychology courses.  Just for fun, I looked up Jungian therapists in the Las Vegas area.  Maybe I could have stumbled upon the same path if I had stayed in the desert, but no, there wasn’t a Jungian therapist to be found.  No Jung Society and no analytical psychology training program.  When it came to depth psychology, Las Vegas was as barren as the desert on which it lay.
I began thinking about the word psychotherapy which literally means “soul healing.”  The famous indication that one is crazy is to move an index finger in a circular motion while pointing at their head.  The assumption is that “crazy” is in the head, but I believe suffering is in the heart.  The suffering causes the non-traditional behavior and if you can find the root cause of the suffering then the behavior becomes manageable or disappears all together.
I believe part of the reason for the lack of a Jungian presence in Las Vegas is because the city does not have a soul.  The city was forged on depraved behavior and that image is intact today, as we all know that “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”  The flashing lights of resorts beckon one to enter, promising the exotic landscape of Egypt, Paris or Rome.  The ceilings are adorned with clouds and blue skies to give the feel of being outside in vitamin D enriched sun, but the reality is a smoky and dank amid an endless cacophony of bells and sirens hearkening one to wake up from fantasy.  But the warning goes unheeded and spurs delusions of being the next to hit the big one.  The jackpot seemingly bestows self-worth onto those pulling the handle or trusting in cards, but they don’t realize that the jackpot is already inside them.  Jung spoke of a treasure buried in the field that was each individual’s task to find.
I had to move 1300 miles away to find my buried treasure.  I don’t think I could have done so otherwise, at least not in the same fashion and at a time when I needed it most.  The discovery of my Self is a gift that has no measurable value.  You could argue that the cost would be akin to the money spent on therapy.  But I would gladly pay ten times that amount if it meant the same result.  My adventure that started with love led me to my soul and my purpose.  I would be foolish to ask for anything more.

Read Full Post »

A Mandala of Me

The following is for my educational portfolio, which will have to demonstrate my proficiency in the liberal arts core competencies embodied by Antioch University:

A Mandala of Me

Mandalas are a form of art that is shared by many cultures including Tibetan monks and the indigenous people of North America. Swiss psychologist Carl Jung employed mandalas as a way to see a snapshot of the Self at the time it was created. I keep a sketchbook of personal mandalas as a way to hone my creative energy while practicing art therapy at the same time. Traditionally, a mandala (the Sanskrit word for circle) is divided into quarters and with this analogy I will describe my liberal arts competencies.

Critical and Creative Inquiry

One of the reasons I decided to finish my BA in Psychology was to ultimately get paid to do what I love in helping people find solutions. I realize that I already do that on a daily basis taking calls for a pest control company. I’m more than just an answering service in that I actually have to know how to assess a pest problem and explain to a potential client how we go about treating it and why they should choose my company. This capacity to help people is not enough for me and I want to do it on a more in-depth level, thus enter psychology. When I have downtime at work I surf the internet like anyone else would. But instead of frequenting celebrity gossip sites or hunting for recipes, I research psychological modalities, case studies and theories.

I keep three different journals: one for recording dreams, one for personal reflection and the mandala sketchbook. I also compose original songs that I sing and perform on the piano in my living room—sometimes for an audience, sometimes not. Through undergoing a personal Jungian analysis I have explored where these things come from and what they mean. Before being in therapy I would have said that the songs come from somewhere else, as though I was channeling them. But I now know that they come from me and owning that takes hubris and confidence—two things that I didn’t have for most of my life.

Self in Community

I have a history of agoraphobia and anxiety that has made it difficult to go out and be around people, therefore I’ve never volunteered at a charitable organization. However, several years ago, I did make 125 beaded bracelets for the My Stuff Bag Foundation, which provides personal duffel bags filled with toiletries, toys and blankets for children who were removed from their homes. But I certainly don’t see that as being nearly enough.

One of my goals in studying psychology is to devise and conduct studies that examine the link between obesity and child abuse. But just like I found there is meaning in music and art beyond the actual creation of it, I believe there is meaning in fat. Not just my fat but everyone’s fat. While I attempt to find that meaning I also have to come to terms with the fact that I’m an overweight woman who has to function in society. This is not always an easy task but I’ve made it my personal mission to be an advocate for myself so that I can be an advocate for others. One of the ways I have done this is by bringing the latest scientific research on obesity in the workplace to my general manager when I felt there was a bias against myself and other overweight women in my office. He and I had a private meeting to discuss my concerns, which ended with us both feeling like we had mutual understanding with no hard feelings.

Understanding the World

My ultimate goal in studying psychology is to open a private practice as a Jungian-oriented psychotherapist. Jungian psychology is different from other psychologies in that it acknowledges the Collective Unconscious. Archetypal symbols show up in dreams and creative endeavors and by understanding these images as they reveal themselves on a personal level then I will be better able to understand them on a global level. For instance, I have very little power in my work environment being the person with the least seniority among people who have been with the company for over a decade. Power is an archetypal energy that exists in my personal unconscious that I then project onto the management. Once I realized that power is projected from myself, then I could withdraw it and reclaim it for myself, like when I brought the issue of possible weight discrimination to my superiors. In turn, this view can and should be manifested in a global arena, especially when dealing with populations that are underserved.

The Journey

The final quadrant of the Mandala of Me is the journey. I am nowhere near the destination I envision through the completion of my goals. Even when I graduate Antioch I will still need to finish graduate school and pass a state exam in order to obtain licensure to practice. The time from start to finish is daunting and that’s when I focus on honoring this academic and soulful sojourn. As the platitude goes, it’s one day at a time. But it’s also one class or one professor or one reading at a time that can create the next level of awareness that transforms from the inside out.

Read Full Post »

Have To Drive

I decided to become a Jungian therapist a year and a half ago. It just came to me one day, I don’t really remember when or how, it just was. Not knowing how one goes about this task, I asked my therapist, BTW (Best Therapist in the World). She told me “You have to find a school that will teach Jung.” She said it in such a way that it seemed as though it may be difficult. I think in my mind at the time I equated difficult with impossible and too daunting to think about any further for a while. She also said I would have to get a bachelor’s degree (in anything I wanted, her suggestion was music for me) and then get a master’s degree in psychology and then you can get licensed and practice. For some reason I thought there were “counseling programs” to train you and no actual college degrees were required. This is all highly laughable to me now and shows how little I knew about what it means to be a Jungian psychotherapist.

Several months later, I was unable to sleep in the middle of the night and did a search for “colleges that teach Jung” on my Mac. I wasn’t finding programs that were called Jungian Studies but programs in Depth Psychology that included Jung’s theories in their programs. Again, it’s very funny to me because I had no clue what depth psychology was and found myself asking BTW at our next session. She explained that Depth Psychology is the umbrella and Jung would fall within it, along with Freud and others who studied the Unconscious. She asked me what schools I had found and was Pacifica Graduate Institute one of them? Yes, actually it was! But it’s in California. However there is a school in Seattle called Antioch that teaches depth psychology. She looked at me smiling and said, “You’ll get a great education at Antioch.”

I saw a few immediate problems, the first being that Antioch is in Seattle and I don’t drive to Seattle. The second was that it’s a private university and the tuition was pretty high and why spend that much money just to finish an undergrad degree? Once again, I put the idea to bed for a little while.

Fast-forward to earlier this year when I had my “epiphany” (for lack of a better word) that if I didn’t go back to school soon to get the degrees I need I would never become a psychotherapist. I decided to apply to the new University of Washington campus in Bothell, which wasn’t too far from home and offered a new degree in Community Psychology. It seemed interesting enough but the classes are held during the day, which would mean I would have to quit my job and find something in the evenings. And I wasn’t really too thrilled about the likelihood of taking classes with kids fresh out of high school. Even still, I applied in February for winter quarter 2011. When I didn’t hear anything right away I began to get worried I wouldn’t get accepted. And if that was the case, what was my Plan B?

Enter Antioch University. I started poking around their website and found out they are a school that is geared towards working adults and only offers classes in the evenings. Well that would cut out the teenybopper factor and eliminate the need to find a new job. Plus, you could design your own degree program. I would be able to combine concentrations in Psychology an Spiritual Studies (a combination of depth and transpersonal psychologies) to prepare me for my ultimate goal: graduate work at Pacifica in Santa Barbara, California—the premier institute for Jungian studies and depth psychology. Antioch was looking that the perfect school for me. I applied to Antioch in March and got called for an interview in April and was accepted in May. I have yet to hear from UWB.

There was still that issue with driving. I had turned my initial statement of “I can’t go to Antioch because it’s in Seattle and I don’t drive to Seattle” around into “I will learn to drive in Seattle so that I can attend Antioch.” But I still had to do it and I had to do it fast because orientation was being held two weeks after I got my acceptance letter. I thought I would have a whole summer to leisurely practice driving to convoluted, one-way street laden Seattle but life had something different planned for me. I did two practice drives with my boyfriend over the next two Saturdays and then I would be solo for Monday’s event. I was nervous all day long with shaking, no appetite and constant bathroom breaks. Then it was time to go. And as I got on the highway, I was fine. I got off the highway and carefully navigated my way through downtown with hyper vigilance. But I was fine. My gps announced “Antioch on your right” and I was there and I was fine. Now came the part of meeting a bunch of strangers. And again I was fine. In fact, I was more than fine–I was at home. All the anxiety about getting there dropped away because I knew I was in exactly the place I needed to be. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt that before. In that concrete building in Seattle that was a symbol of no-man’s-land for so long I had found a place where I belonged. And now the driving seemed like nothing because the driving leads me here.

I have to drive. I drive my car to school so that I can drive my ambitions. One day I will drive to California and drive to my ultimate goal. And then I will drive some more to destinations yet to be realized. I will drive. And I will be fine.

Read Full Post »

>March 18, 2010

Platitudes, Psychotherapy and Personal Growth: Finding Meaning in the Mundane

“What do you do for personal growth?” he asked me. I was at my third job interview at the age of 32. Not third interview for this job, mind you, but third interview of my life. I started working for my parents at the age of 14 and continued working for them for 18 years. I had a brief break my first quarter of college and for a few months when the entire family left cold, cloudy Cleveland for the sunny grand adventure of Las Vegas, where we would open a store and run it as a family. You would think I was brave, trekking across the country to face the unknown. But neon lights, burnished mountains and 110-degree heat had nothing on what ultimately claimed me—agoraphobia.

I’m not exactly sure when it started. Perhaps it was before we even left, as I was terrified of driving my car across the country. So we traded it in and took my then-husband’s car instead. And I didn’t drive again for nearly six years. There wasn’t a good reason for it, I just didn’t and no one really pressed me on it and so it was. When we bought a house, we chose one that was only a few blocks from my parent’s house so they could easily pick me up on their way to work. Then my husband or my sister would take me home from work. “Jenny doesn’t drive,” they would say. But that wasn’t entirely true. I had had my license since I was 17 and knew how to operate a vehicle. In fact, one night before heading home from work my sister got sick and asked me to drive us in her car. I was panicked and frightened and don’t think I ever approached the speed limit on the highway, but I did it. That was the only time. Well, the only time until my husband and I decided it was time to get a second car.

In 2003 we purchased the first brand new car either of us had ever owned. I don’t remember what the impetus was, only that it was to be my car to drive even if I was only going to drive it to work and back. And even though I had this new semi-mobility it didn’t cure me of my fear of going places alone. I didn’t do my own grocery shopping or pump my own gas and if my husband was with me, he was certainly the one doing the driving, not me.

Fast-forward four years in which we bypass my divorce, my first-ever sessions with a psychologist (who ultimately diagnosed me as agoraphobic), and a burgeoning new relationship with the man who holds my heart to this day. A wonderfully supportive man who helped me to take the first steps in my recovery and ultimately drove with me the 1300 miles from Las Vegas to Seattle (each driving exactly half of the 18 hour journey) to make a home and a life together. Isaias always told me I could do anything I wanted to do. It would take me a while to realize and eventually I did and am now reaping the rewards of that conviction.

Don’t think that I think of myself as some fairytale princess who just needed her Prince Charming to come and save her. My story is not that succinct. After my move I became depressed for the first time in my life. I had never been so far away from the family I was used to seeing every day and it was taking its toll on me. Once again I decided to seek therapy. My previous foray into psychotherapy was less than a success. I learned a few things, like how to “build on my successes” in terms of conquering my fear of driving. But over time I began to see my therapist as a parent-type and wasn’t being totally forthcoming with her for fear of being reprimanded like a child. I stopped going after just a few months. I found my current therapist through a referral from a friend’s therapist and have been seeing her regularly for almost three years. And she’s not just any therapist—she’s a Jungian psychotherapist. I don’t know why the fact that she was Jungian resonated with me. I certainly didn’t know much about Jung. I owned a copy of “Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious” but I had never gotten more than 20 pages into it. The referral list I was given had about 8 names on it. I called several and left messages for all and made an appointment with the first one who called me back. Then BTW returned my call. I don’t know what it was about her but I knew she was the one. I made an appointment with her and called the first one back to cancel and I’m so glad I did.

My confidence in driving began to regress once I moved and I was scared about having to take the highway to a place I’d never been to meet a woman with whom I was going to share my most intimate fears. I don’t remember much except that she was very nice and welcoming and understanding. I had told her that I moved here with Isaias yet I felt alone because Isaias had family and everything here and “I have nothing.” She plucked that phrase and made it the focus of the session. Before our next meeting I was to make a list of “What I Have.” And I did. And with it came hope. It was the beginning of a beautiful journey that has brought me to where I am now.

“What do you do for personal growth?” asked my soon-to-be boss. I loved the question and I loved the interview—the most Zen, non-interview ever, of that I’m sure. I told him that I was a singer/songwriter/pianist and that I use music to express myself and attain personal growth. He told me that he had a master’s degree in counseling and I shared with him my experience of agoraphobia and recovery and that I was in therapy still working on it all. He told me what a mentor once told him: Pain is our birthright. We shook hands, said our goodbyes and I was offered the job a few hours later.

In the two years since then we’ve had the opportunity to “wax philosophical” on a few occasions. Most recently he told me of a Sanskrit phrase “Neti neti” which translates to “not this, not that.” He used it to illustrate how to describe what God is or what Love is—we don’t know what it is, but we do know what it is not. Neti neti. I didn’t know the extent of how this would resonate with me.

The New Year found me agitated and feeling stagnated. I didn’t feel like I was going anywhere with my life. Sure, my job paid well and I had learned skills I never thought I would but somewhere deep inside I wasn’t satisfied. Enter: Death. No, I’m not being emo and I didn’t attempt suicide or have a near-death experience. This is Death from The Endless. The sister to Dream, Desire, Delirium, Destruction, Despair and Destiny. The Death of the Sandman graphic novel series by Neil Gaiman. More simply, I changed the desktop background on my computer at work to an image of Death—a pretty Goth girl with a charming smile. Written on it was “You get what anyone gets. You get a lifetime.” The words haunted me. I found myself avoiding the text and her exuberant gaze. I had decided a year prior that I wanted to become a psychologist but I was just waiting to save enough money to go to school. But then there’s Death looming over me telling me my time will be up eventually. My 35th birthday was just two months away. I had no plans to go to school but if I didn’t go now, when was I going to go?

I had recently read an article on a blog called Zen Habits entitled “The World Needs You To Do What You Love.” It listed seven steps to get started on doing fulfilling work. Work doesn’t need to be boring and mundane. Work should be something you’d do even if you didn’t get paid for it. One of the steps was to make time to attain your goal. So I made the time to research universities and make education my number one focus. I have applied to a state university and will apply to a private university soon. I already have my graduate school picked out. I am going to be a Jungian analyst with a private practice.

Oh yeah, Jung. Dr. Carl Gustav Jung. Remember when I said that something about Jungian therapy resonated with me? At the time I would have said, “hmmm, that’s kind of strange.” But now I would say that it was me connecting to the collective unconscious. Deciding to become a psychotherapist isn’t just a decision it’s part of my process of Individuation. I always knew I was an Introvert, but I didn’t know that Dr. Jung coined the term. BTW (Best Therapist in the World) told me early on that the answers to all of our problems were located in our unconscious. I nodded and I believed her but I didn’t think it would actually happen or realize the impact it would have on me when it did.

I feel like I’m part of a tradition. Carl Jung suffered a psychotic break when Sigmund Freud excommunicated him from the analytical community. Jung was able to heal himself by studying his Unconscious as it revealed itself in his dreams, paintings and visions. I, in turn, was able to heal myself (with BTW’s help) by heeding what my Unconscious was trying to impart to me. I’m also a part of another tradition. Many of Jung’s patients came to him after having been analyzed and told him that they had figured out what they wanted to do: they wanted to be an analyst just like him. This happened so frequently that Jung would slap his head and say “Not another one!”

And so it goes. Not this, not that. Neti neti. Eureka! I have found it! What do I do to attain personal growth? I grow. I continue to reach for that which will help me to actualize my full potential. A potential that wasn’t met in working in the family business or selling pest control and definitely not in hiding away, afraid to go out into the world. I embrace the difficult and the challenging so I can look back and say, “I accomplished that. What’s next? Bring it on.”

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: