Through a Jungian Lens

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Daring To Be Awake and Authentic

with 11 comments

Sitting on a tree stump contemplating questions and answers

How does one engage in the process of individuation and avoid becoming caught in the trap of narcissism? What does taking care of oneself become selfish? When one asks the question “What is right?” how can one decide on an answer when what is right is different for different people? These are tough questions, questions I am wrestling with at the moment.

Cowardice asks the question: “Is it safe?”
Expediency asks the question: “Is it politic?”
Vanity asks the question: “Is it popular?”
But conscience asks the question: “Is it right?”

And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because one’s conscience tells one what is right.” ( Martin Luther King Jr., “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution” – 31 March 1968)

Martin Luther King, Jr. also asks tough questions that strike at the heart of where I find myself. I can see my cowardice, my trying to please others at the expense of what I believe is right, doubting what I believe is right in the process. I have been running almost all of my life – running away from my abusive childhood, running away from my dreams, running away from . . . all of that running was/is about fear. But the truth is I survived my abusive childhood, and I am now a mature adult. I shouldn’t be running any longer from the dark shadows of the past.

Now, I find myself being “politic,” a strategy I learned in childhood in which I kept quiet about what I knew and believed and focused on the needs and wants, the beliefs of those who where responsible for my growing through childhood. I became the agreeable peacekeeper, the pacifier, the one who tried to reduce storm waves to smooth waters. I didn’t disagree, but would swallow my truth to avoid censure, to avoid pain, to avoid loneliness. As an adult, the pattern continued. I would make only small noises and only if those noises would not threaten too much my growing family. I continued to swallow my swelling anger and let it explode within me while keeping a safe smile on my face. We all make decisions everyday that compromise our sense of truth because of both personal fear and fear or retribution upon those whom we love. We all become “politic” even within our primary relationships in order to ensure that the relationships survive rather than testing the true depths of our relationships.

We turn our cheek when our truths are assaulted and present the other cheek. We also turn our eyes away from our truths so that we can pretend we don’t know. “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil, do no evil.” These are words we live for the most part in order to insulate ourselves from what appears to be a very nasty modern world. I am as guilty of this as anyone, perhaps more so. And when I consider other words spoken by Martin Luther King, Jr, I feel shamed: “”He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”

It’s time for me to wake up and be courageous. It’s time for me to risk learning the truth and living those truths.

“There are a thousand things which prevent a man from awakening, which keep him in the power of his dreams. In order to act consciously with the intention of awakening, it is necessary to know the nature of the forces which keep a man in a state of sleep. (G.I. Gurdjieff)

The process of waking up is my current journey. Will I have the courage to truly wake up, or will I go only so far as to find a more comfortable way to spend the last of my years and days on this planet?


11 Responses

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  1. Though not a Jungian book, on the surface, I’ve been listening to No More Mr. Nice Guy, by Robert Glover, PhD. He talks about many of these things such as being people pleasers, peace keepers, and burying that anger until one day it just explodes as rage. Been there, done that, don’t want it again.

    I’m on my own personal journey, as well, dealing with the same types of issues that followed me to my adult years. I still have difficulty, sometimes, speaking my truth for ‘fear’ of making waves, but have found that when I do make waves, people are still there for me, even if I don’t agree with them or cannot give of my time, etc. It gets easier, but it’s still not easy at this time.

    I think that individuation is absolutely critical and it is selfish, in terms of being ‘of the self’ and totally necessary. I got really tired of backing down and set on this journey of self-discovery to find out what it is that I believe and what is my sense of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’.


    March 1, 2012 at 8:04 pm

  2. Robert, as a departure point, IMHO, one much give credit where credit is due: From Kalsched’s “Inner World of Trauma”:
    “. . . And while everyone agrees how maladaptive these defenses are in the later life of the patient, few writers writers have acknowledged the miraculous nature of these defenses – their life-saving sophistication or their archetypal nature and meaning.”

    John Ferric

    March 2, 2012 at 10:19 am

    • Of course, you are right to point out the need to share credit 🙂 Thank you John, and I fixed the typo that you pointed out. 🙂


      March 2, 2012 at 4:41 pm

  3. This one hit a nerve!
    I have seen far too often patients seeing analysis as some sort of Yuppie hobby not growing in Self but self-absorption. A good counselor must be forever on his or her toes against cuddling narcissism.


    March 2, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    • Too much New Age b*llsh*t that denies ego and the condition of being human beings makes the job of a therapist a tough job. One has to do so much digging through the BS in order to find the truth of the person sitting across from us. And often, that is the last thing they want from their therapist – “What, there isn’t a pill or a “help manual” to take this problem away from me?”


      March 6, 2012 at 7:30 pm

  4. Robert, I want to focus, even more, on impact of my post, above. If those events, ill or healthy, that you write of had not happened when they did, and if you had not responded the way you did(again for ill or good) you would not be here doing the work on yourself you are doing. To look back and see the sequence of events that occurred that lead to person we each are today is astounding. Try to imagine how things could have taken a different direction if just one of those chance events had had a different outcome.

    Great post from Urspo!

    John Ferric

    March 3, 2012 at 7:11 am

    • I don’t wish the past undone, I just want to show how the journey finds its needs and its roots in the past. There is no such thing as a soul that is not wounded within a living human.


      March 6, 2012 at 7:27 pm

  5. Robert, this could have been me writing this post. I’ve realized what a sham I’ve been living. A false version of myself…it’s sad. Well, it’s sad that it’s taken so long to realize. But I guess once one sees it…one can no longer be satisfied being a half person. You inspire me with your journey….thank-you. It feels like I can keep going knowing that I’m not the only one looking for my wholeness. 🙂

    Goddess Aphrodite

    March 4, 2012 at 12:32 am

    • That this post could have been written by you is just one more proof that there is a commonality to that human condition of consciousness and the unconscious, more proof to support the findings of Carl Jung. You are right, one has a problem when once he or she sees beyond the filtered box what one puts oneself into. One then wants more, to be whole, to be healed.


      March 6, 2012 at 7:21 pm

  6. I’ve been following your posts for a while now (finding your blog on the Asheville Global Jung Center’s Facebook page) and they all have been so enlightening. Your honesty, reflections and insights have been so helpful, as this path is most often a singular path, isolated by a society who refuses to “wake up.” And like you, I was the peacekeeper and learned to go along as opposed to making waves. But now I can’t stop myself (or at least the archetype stepping in for me) and even as I’m called an instigator and fear reactionary assaults, I may walk away, threatened even bruised, but find myself more at peace on an inner level even as I may cause turmoil on an outer level, even within the psychological (government funded) community. So your post has come at a most opportune time of synchronicity for me and gives me the courage to keep speaking out when systems don’t work. I shall look forward to your posts and photographs.

    Gail Gray

    March 10, 2012 at 6:32 am

    • I have noticed and appreciated how Asheville has supported my blog posting on both Facebook and Twitter. As I listened to your words here, I thought, ‘Gail would enjoy reading Hollis’ book, The Eden Project.’ I am on my third time through this book and I am being surprised at what I am finally learning about relationships because of the scripts we put into place in response to issues arising out of childhood. Thank you, Gail, for bringing your voice here, it is appreciated. 🙂


      March 10, 2012 at 9:02 pm

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