Soul’s Call: Right Amidst Our Major Life Transitions
Right off the bat, let me say that, in using the word soul, and referring to soul’s call, I’m referring to the essence of our personality, the core of who we are. This post is not about religious ideas like “saving your soul” or “your immortal soul”! It’s about who you most fundamentally are.
I’ve had occasion to reflect on this quite a bit recently, in the context of doing Jungian case studies with several individual clients. Very often these are people who find themselves at major life transitions, who are faced with one or more major life choices. They may face a considerable amount of family, peer or broader societal pressure to go in a certain direction. Yet they find that, easy as it might be to go that way, something is keeping them from doing it—something that seems fundamental and important.
It may seem completely irrational. The person may have what appears on the surface to be an “excellent” career, that is prestigious and very lucrative, and yet find themselves yearning to pursue a vocation in the arts. Or a life-long stay-at-home person may find they suddenly wish to tour North America in an RV, for reasons which they find very hard to explain.
The Tension of Yearning
Our yearnings often come from parts of ourselves with which we are not very in touch. Yet we can be stunned by their urgency, even when we aren’t exactly sure of what it is they actually want. Often, they let us know that there is some full or partially obscured part of ourselves that wants to be included in our picture of ourselves. Some part of us that wants to come into consciousness and be fully alive. This hidden element wants to be uncovered in all its depth, even if we can’t yet fathom where it yearns to lead us. This brings to mind a poignant quotation from famed archetypal psychologist James Hillman:
Tell me what you yearn for and I shall tell you who you are [Italics mine]. We are what we reach for, the idealized image that drives our wandering.
That which I yearn for reveals who it is that I actually am; we are what we reach for. Some part of us is seeking healing, fulfillment and expression in the form of our keenest and most sublime desires.
The Peril of Ignoring Soul’s Call
Our yearnings can be very strong and persistent. Yet, it can be easy to ignore the voice of the self, even though we can pay a steep price when we do. Sometimes this turning away can lead us straight to anxiety or depression. Yet there are other ways that such a missed invitation can show up. While it is not exactly depression, there is a kind of sterility or flatness that can start to pervade our lives. We can also find ourselves filled with a profound sense of regret.
Often, it can be extremely difficult to sift and distinguish what it is the voice of the deepest part of ourselves, from the other influences and voices in our lives. The influence of families, peer groups, advertising and work environments can often be so pervasive and so seductive.
wants from of distinguishing that voice from other influences
Following Our Uncertain Yearnings
One hundred per cent certainty occurs rarely, if ever, in life. The most authentic decisions that we make and the paths that we tread are usually part of a process of groping toward something we feel has energy or life for us. We make these choices having weighed them as much as we can, and often we’re aware that there is a cost to making them. Again in the words of Hillman,
Anytime you’re gonna grow, you’re gonna lose something. You’re losing what you’re hanging onto to keep safe. You’re losing habits that you’re comfortable with, you’re losing familiarity.
Certainly growth often entails loss of the familiar and of things that contribute to our sense of safety. Yet, it almost goes without saying, we also gain, as we leave the familiar behind on our search for what is at the heart of soul’s call in our yearning.
Are you in touch with the yearning in your life? Are you in the process of trying to sift and identify what it is that is actually at the heart of soul’s call? If so, you know that it’s an important and at times demanding task. The process of working with a sensitive and supportive /a-midlife-transition can often assist greatly in bringing the soul’s call experienced through our deepest yearnings, into clear perspective.
Wishing you every good thing on your personal journey,