There have been times during my nearly 40 years studying Carl Jung, where it felt as though I was trying to map the dark side of the moon. That’s because, in many ways, the study of Jung is the study of one’s self. And surely there is nothing more complicated – or compelling – than the Self.
Imagine a scenario where the research subject is both the researcher and data interpreter, and where the data collection and analysis are occurring almost simultaneously. That’s essentially what is happening when you study yourself.
I have come to know that taking time for self-reflection and self-development – particularly in today’s disrupted world – is always worth it. Achieving greater understanding of the impact that the conscious and unconscious elements of your personality can make in helping you create a balance in life unlocks your unique individual potential. This was largely Jung’s gift to us, developing the Self.
Awareness leads to understanding
Your relationship with yourself is the most important relationship of your life. This is worth repeating – your relationship with yourself is the most important relationship. If you can understand why you do, what you do, in the way you do it – and how that can be, and often is, misperceived by other people – you heighten your potential to be more effective in all you do.
Just as we have conversations with others, we are in a constant dialogue with ourselves. “Why did I say that, and in that way?” “How could my comments have been interpreted, or misinterpreted?” And perhaps, even occasionally, “What could I do, or say, differently in future to achieve a better outcome?” It is in these quiet conversations with ourselves, we stand to benefit from really taking stock of what we are actually saying to ourselves.
Consider those elements and behaviours you appreciate most about yourself, and others – and conversely, what challenges you most encounter in your relations with yourself and others. This little self-refection exercise may provide an interesting insight into your personal preferences, and can explain why you might struggle to make the positive connection you would wish with some people. Further examination and reflection will help you navigate the world around you more successfully. This may feel like a slightly strange ‘detective game’ until you get comfortable with this process until somehow it becomes automatic and you note your internal and external conflicts are diminishing. So stick with it.
Understanding leads to transformation
Developing deep self-awareness will have a profoundly positive impact on every aspect of your life, including in your professional and personal relationships, and in your career or journey of individuation – the phrase Jung used to encourage self-study and self-development. You begin to see things differently, do things differently and achieve different outcomes. Heightening self-awareness inevitably leads to a positive transformation of the personality.
If, for example, you have been constantly frustrated by an individual, look at your behaviours. Then look at their behaviours. Where might you moderate your behaviour? Where is the common ground? Where could you make concessions? Piece your observations together and look for patterns to emerge as your modify your behaviours.
Increasing your understanding can reveal how these things support (and hinder) you from achieving the outcomes you want in your personal and professional pursuits. Self-understanding is the key that unlocks the invisible handcuffs anyone wears when they continue to do things in the same way and experience the same disappointing results.
Transformation leads to transcendence
Transcendence is the concept of experiencing or achieving something beyond the normal or physical level. The journey from unconscious incompetence, though to conscious self-awareness, to transformation, to transcendence is a process of continually bringing more knowledge of the power of the unconscious into your consciousness, through dreams, examination and reflection, and of application – to enable you to unlock your unique potential and evolve into the person you are born to become.
‘The Transcendent Function’ – as Jung calls it – is a call to arms; a call to become all we are destined to be. As the psychological inferior function – where our blind-spots come from – sits at the cusp of what is unconscious and unknown to us, it also pushes our shadow or less attractive behaviours to surface where they are experience by others.
Jung said the potential of dynamic development of the Self through the process of individuation suggests that it is the interaction of what we are great act, challenging that which we are ineffective at, which begins the process of individuation. It often begins to occur in midlife transformation, a ‘second journey’ of life. It is these occurrences in life, often very difficult transitions, that may lead to the appearance of what he termed the Transcendent Function, which he found to arrive at the healing of tensions between opposing elements to partake in a healing or resolution.
The objective of Jungian Typology is to bring greater understanding of the conscious and unconscious elements of the personality in order to develop oneself, creating balance though unlocking more of our unique potential.
In the pursuit of what we don’t know about ourselves, we will inevitably confront the aspects that make up the fabric of who we are. From this foundation, we are able to grow our understanding of ourselves and use this information to make choices to help us better navigate the world around us and enjoy more of life through reducing personal conflicts within self, and in our relating with others.
Increasing our awareness through noticing our thoughts, behaviours and feelings lays the foundation for the life-long process of bringing more information about ourselves into a fuller consciousness. This is not about heightening egocentricity. It is about knowing that our ego’s require education about their role in consciousness, and this from our deeper selves. What we do with this information though, is of course, up to us. What is necessary for a person to improve themselves is to change their awareness of themselves.
The global pandemic and resulting financial crisis is challenging us in different ways. Harnessing the power of self-awareness and unlocking your unique potential may be the key to your success. So stick with it.