Jungian Therapy & the Second Half of Life, 1: Openness
I’ve always wanted to do a series on how Jungian therapy approaches the second half of life. This is the time in our life from the onset of psychological midlife on. For the first post, I’ve chosen the challenge of openness.
Growing older can tempt us to close ourselves off from new kinds of awareness and new possibilities for living. How do we avoid this, and stay open, alive and aware?
Below are four insights about openness and the second half of life.
Coping with the Current of Life
Sometimes the current gets rough. I can easily be overwhelmed with all that life brings over the bow in the second stage of adulthood. Kids facing the challenges of the teen years, and of moving out into the adult world, and then the reality of empty nest. Ever-changing and less stable work life. For many, the end of marriages and partnerships, sometimes of long standing. Achievement of some dreams, and the recognition that others will never come about. The feeling of passing time, and anxiety about life slipping away.
The Temptation to Disengagement
As we get older and confront these challenges, there can be a slow, subtle, almost unconscious temptation to pull back from the world. Without even being aware we’re doing it, we can end up holding ourselves aloof from what is going on around us, sometimes feeling betrayal, disillusion or disgust. It wouldn’t be “cool” to admit it to others, yet this can often occur. Which is tragic, because we can miss the real substance of our lives.
Seductions of Rigidity
We can find ourselves slowly taking a more and more rigid stance in life, slowly falling victim to unbending opinions, unwillingness to really listen to others who differ from ourselves, and resisting coping with change and anything new. This kind of psychological rigidity can amount to a kind of living death.
Open-ness and the Undiscovered Self
To stay vitally alive, I need to respond openly to others, to the outside world, and, above all, to the undiscovered and unacknowledged aspects of my self — the shadow. Dream images often reflect how unacknowledged aspects of the self are trying to come into consciousness. There are possibilities in each of us that strive to be lived out, and to bring us into an going affirmation of life.
How do you keep yourself open in the second half of life? I’d welcome your comments.