Through a Jungian Lens

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Trail Closed – Rejecting Negative Thinking

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Trail closed for regeneration

“Trail closed” so the sign says somewhere in the midst of Fish Creek Provincial Park. As I saw this scene, I saw colours and contrasts framing the sign, a world of animated vitality in suspended animation just waiting to be woken up as if it was some Sleeping Beauty waiting for the kiss of a prince. Taking the photo was a one shot effort as I was walking with my good wife and wanted to catch up with her so that we could continue our walk together.

“Trail closed” – it is important for me to truly understand this idea. It isn’t an idea of permanence, but one of transition or transformation. When I noticed this sign, it spoke to me of my own versions of trails closed or pathways closed. What really is being closed? Closed to whom? Why? And as I ask these questions, it dawns on me that I am closing pathways in my own psyche, nor for the purpose of re-animating, but for purposes of restricting access by consciousness. I am shutting access off to my conscious self and preventing something vital from coming to light. Why? Likely because it would involve too much change, force me to make hard choices which would mean losses. Of course, logic doesn’t play a big role in any of this as the unconscious is not about ego’s logic. Naturally, realising this, I get supremely pissed off at myself and say enough is enough. The signs tell me to stay out, but I am about to say “fuck the signs” and turn on the lights onto these denied paths in order to discover the ugly truths about myself, truths that I have unconsciously worked so hard to deny existence.

Whoever has not gained a significant measure of self-loathing has not become self-conscious.” (Hollis, Tracking the Gods, p. 41)

For a moment I saw this quote and said, ‘Yes, I have more than enough self-loathing, therefor I must be more self-conscious.’ And then I quickly caught myself with a bit of a swelled head, a swollen ego that said ‘Hmmn, I am more conscious, better than most others’ and faced a larger truth – I am not better than others, I am just as fucked up as others, just as negative, and cause as much harm as most others. So what if I perhaps see the mess I made earlier, it doesn’t undo the fact that I am nearly as worthy or as special as I try to make myself out to be.

Hollis makes this statement in response to Dostoevsky’s Notes From the Underground, a book I read many decades ago:

“But I ask of you, who on earth goes around showing off his sickness, and even glorying in it? On second thought though, I’d say that eveyone does. People do pride themselves on their infirmities and I, probably, more than anyone.” (Dostoevsky,  Notes From the Underground, p. 93 – as cited in Tracking the Gods, p. 41)

So what exactly am I doing here in this blog post, this blog site if not celebrating my brokenness, my sickness? I sense that part of my sickness is a will to self-denial, to self-destruction. What do I mean by that? Well, I don’t mean a physical self-destruction, but one of burying the unique “Robert” in favour of a “Robert” that would fit well with others, a “Robert” that will find himself at home in community. To get there, in my warped way of thinking means the “real Robert” must be buried, denied, refashioned into a person who is a complete stranger, a person who is more like others.

Seeing this sign, “Trail Closed” has challenged me to be honest, to be honest with my fuller self rather than continue to betray my fuller self. Some lessons come slowly, and acting on those lessons, even more slowly. I am learning to stop listening to my inner voice of self-loathing and accept that is is okay to be less than perfect, a lot less than perfect. I am learning that I have a right to be here in community in spite of my differences. I am learning that the “real Robert” is real and that I need to learn how to accept and love that so that others can love me, consciously.


6 Responses

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  1. I have just read your last 10 posts and find my head aswirl with your journey and Jung and Hollis and my dead father and my self and my real self and my imagined self and the self that I show the world; I have memories of Joseph Campbell echoing in my mind with tiny pieces of nihlism and Buddhism and Christianity keeping time with those echoes…and I wonder…and don’t really know what to do with it all. So I’m going to keep reading you, Robert, keep visiting, listening…. Thank you for being here, for being you, whoever you are and are becoming.


    March 7, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    • Thank you, Scott. Words such as yours are valuable. I know that what I am doing, what I am writing is ultimately about myself and for myself; but, to learn that in risking this process in such a public manner, others are finding personal value – that is priceless for me. Again, thank you.


      March 10, 2012 at 8:41 pm

  2. Dear Robert,
    Thank you for this Post that allows me to get informed how your battle on your journey is proceeding, by your true and honest words – and as you share this, I am able to find similarities that enables me to continue on my journey.

    After reading your Post, this Symbolic picture could seep through.
    Symbolical – I experience my journey as a Puzzle.

    It is not possible for me to see how the complete picture of the Puzzle looks like, because only some pieces of the puzzle are correctly laid in and next to the Puzzle is a big heap of Puzzle pieces yet to be put in their right place.
    So the Puzzle pieces that are correctly laid in and the big heap of Puzzle pieces are separated from each other.

    Every time when I am able to find a piece of the Puzzle that I can match with the Puzzle, the picture of the Puzzle becomes a tiny little bit more clear to me and what is more important this piece of the Puzzle is not separated anymore from the Puzzle picture but enables the picture to become a little bit more whole.

    Back to myself – sporadically, but every time when I am able to bring a piece of my shadow to the light of my consciousness – I have found and added the missing piece of the Puzzle in its rightful place.
    By restoring this piece of my shadow, the separateness is no longer a fact, because it is replaced by Oneness – because I no longer deny its existence.
    And like you wrote : “………to discover the ugly truths about myself, truths that I have unconsciously worked so hard to deny existence” – are now honored to become a part of Whole, of Oneness.

    In order to check whether I am on a wild goose chase of maybe mad, or that I am successful – is to be verified by the outcome In myself.
    When I followed the right procedure I can experience that the forces of energy that kept/created the separateness of the pieces alive, are remarkably weakened.
    They are not vanished, but the energy of fear, that I experienced before, caused by this “unhappy and denied” separated piece of Shadow – has lost its blind forceful character because of the Transformation.
    I know that these forces of fear did not vanish because I can experience them in a weakened way and more important, I am conscious of them.
    Not in the way of “the blind hostility” that they use to have before, but merely as signs that now I am at peace with them, because I know that they belong to myself and not to somebody else.

    I also am aware, that for me I never will accomplish to finish the whole picture of the Puzzle in my lifetime – but I think in my way I followed my Urge to try to match some of the pieces of my Puzzle – and I believe that your Urge and my Urge are the same – that why we are on our journey.

    So far, this is what your Post did to me because you shared and I in my own way learned.

    Opa Bear

    March 8, 2012 at 3:27 am

    • As you learn from my posts, then respond to the post reflecting on that learning, I also learn more. I get to experience your images, your resonance and that feeds me. In the end, we teach each other when we open ourselves, when we give up the facade of being some sort of experts. You teach me so much here, my dear Opa.


      March 10, 2012 at 8:48 pm

  3. Ahh Robert, The vacillation between following the path of Individuation or an easier way. It’s so much easier to be the Robert or the Ruth who gets along well with others. Who ‘fits in’. But we know that’s a lie. Unfortunately (?) my friend, you are on the real path; do you think it will suddenly stop, or that you could go backwards and be ok with that? IMHO you don’t have a choice. You’ve gone too far down the difficult path to switch; to give up the dream of more wholeness, of self-acceptance, of loving your own difficult self. ( It’s at this point where The Cosmic Chuckle should enter stage left…)
    PS (If you have ‘dropbox’ I could easily send you those 2 articles-let me know.)

    Ruth Martin

    March 9, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    • It could be easier to easier way – if – and that is a huge “if” one could ever step back into the easier way. Unfortunately? In a way, it is unfortunate as the path does create major and minor ripples in the relationships that are carried along on the journey. But, I give up all pretense that I have a choice to retreat. I will have to accept that the world is changing because I am changing. Thanks, Ruth, for your words of wisdom and support.

      I don’t have “dropbox.” How big are the files?


      March 10, 2012 at 8:54 pm

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