So often the word “fantasy” is treated as a negative term. After all, aren’t we supposed to be realistic, and practical, and down-to-earth? How can our fantasies possibly help us to live our real lives?
Well, Jung has some interesting things to say on this topic, including the following, which is about the role of fantasy at mid-life and later:
“Then, with the beginning of your life’s second part, inexorably a change imposes itself, subtly at first but with ever-increasing weight. Whatever you have acquired hitherto is no longer the same as you regarded it when it still lay before you — it has lost something of its charm, its splendor and its attractiveness. What was once an adventurous effort has become routine. Even flowers wilt, and it is hard to discover something perennial that will endure. Looking back slowly becomes a habit, no matter how much you detest and try to suppress it…
“The backwards look will not fail to show you sides and aspects of yourself long forgotten and other ways of life you have missed or avoided before. The more your actual life becomes routine and habit, the less it will be satisfactory. [Italics mine]
“Soon unconscious fantasies begin to play with other possibilities and these can become quite troublesome unless they are made conscious in time. They may be mere regressions into childhood, which prove to be most unhelpful when one is confronted with the difficult task of creating a new goal for an aging life. If one has nothing to look forward to except the habitual things, life cannot renew itself any more. It gets stale, it congeals and petrifies, like Lot’s wife who could not detach her eyes from the things hitherto valued. Yet these insipid fantasies may also contain germs of real new possibilities or of new goals worthy of attainment. There are always things ahead, and despite all the overwhelming power of the historical pattern they are never quite the same. [Italics mine]”
So, for Jung, our “insipid fantasies” are not at all devoid of value — if we really work with them to make them conscious. They may in fact contain the vital clues for us to the way to move forward in our lives. Sometimes these fantasies can seem childish, or useless — so much so that we dismiss them. Perhaps we have been told, or have told ourselves, that our longing or our fantasy has no value, that we are silly even to entertain it. We may have gotten this message so strongly that we even find it difficult to find our fantasies or to experience them — so rigourously does the internal schoolmaster/critic discipline us to “keep out nose to the grindstone.”
But the re-discovery of such fantasies, and understanding their meaning, can give life. I have experienced that as a reality in the lives of my clients, and I know it as a reality in my own life.
My very best wishes to you on your individual journey to wholeness,
Website for Brian’s Oakville and Mississauga Practice: www.briancollinson.ca
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