How to be True to Yourself in the Middle of Big Life Changes
Have you ever wondered how to be true to yourself when you’re smack dab in the middle of a huge change in your life?
“How can I stay true to myself?” It’s something that many people do wonder about, when they’re right in the middle of life’s biggest changes — sometimes called major life transitions. This type of event in our lives often leaves each of us confronting the question of who really am I and how to be true to yourself.
Huge changes or major life transitions can occur at any point in our adult life journey. They can assume many forms: career change or job loss; change in marital status in all its forms; moving; serious illness; having a child; children leaving home; moving into the second half of life, and many, many other possibilities.
Disoriented about “Me”
These types of big changes can lead to a great sense of disorientation. If I confront a new situation in my life, it may really challenge me about who I am.
For example. Say that I have been living in the same community for a long time. Then, for work-related reasons, I’m suddenly forced to move to another city in a different part of the country, or perhaps even overseas. I have to leave behind both the work environment and the community I have known and belonged to for many years. Naturally, I find this distressing and disorienting. It may lead me to disturbing questions about not only the changes in my life, but also about myself.
My work role and my community may have touched almost every aspect of my life, led me to do things in a certain way, and determined how I would respond and think about all kinds of situations in my life. Taken outside of the former context of my life, who am I?
Such a transition might be very upsetting. Yet, it might also offer a huge opportunity: the chance to experience myself.
In the midst of disorientation, it might be vitally important to connect with experiences in which you felt fully alive and fully yourself, and to use such moments as a kind of “compass”, showing the way to yourself.
C.G. Jung had a famous question that he used to ask his clients when they were in the midst of disorientation and transition:
What did you do as a child that made the hours pass like minutes? Herein lies the key to your earthly pursuits.
Jung attempted to take his clients to times in their lives when they had the awareness of feeling truly themselves, when they were so much a part of what they were doing, that they were virtually in a trance-like state, totally absorbed by it.
Such moments are not confined to childhood. We may encounter them at many times in our lives. It’s important to point out that such experiences have dimensions of feeling and intuition, and are not matters of reasoning or logic. As Hara Estroff Marano and Anna Yusim MD highlight for us:
Transformational moments sit somewhere on the boundary between logic and emotion. Insight alone, no matter how brilliant, rarely leads to profound change.
There is something deeper that we seek, and it is central to the question of how to be true to yourself.
The Real Images That Govern Our Lives
…answerable to an innate image, which I am filling out in my biography.
Transformational moments bring us to a sense of who and what I am, of getting in touch with Hillman’s inner image of ourselves, and of gaining a sense of how to be true to it.
The work of /a-midlife-transition is fundamentally focused on getting in touch with and being true to our fundamental selves, in all the situations of our lives.
Brian Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist & Jungian Psychoanalyst
PHOTOS: Cassandra Rae (Creative Commons Licence) ; Rick Obst (Creative Commons Licence)
© 2018 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)