The Autumn Seasonal Change and the Flow of Our Lives
The autumn seasonal change can have an immense effect on us. I recognize that autumn proper doesn’t begin until September 21st. Yet the changes that we go through every year just before and during that time can have huge psychological impacts.
Photo by Jacqueline Smith
Sometimes we don’t even notice how much the annual Fall transition affects us, but the impact is still there. This is a subject that I’ve written about before, but I feel that there’s enough to make it worthwhile re-visiting the topic. Our life perpetually flows, and in order to cherish it for what it is, it’s essential that we feel that flow.
Autumn is one of the times when we can particularly attune to the movement involved in this precious gift of being alive. Even if it sometimes seems that we are standing still in our lives, the reality is that our life is always dynamic and moving.
Autumn can often wake us up to change and possible choice. After what can often seem like the slow pace or static interval of summer, along comes autumn, with its call to the young to return to school, to young adults to return to post-secondary, and to adults to resume the steady pace of regular life. As the resumption of the regular year comes upon us, we might experience other kinds of awareness, as well.
In Autumn, Things Flow
As September begins, children return to school, fall and winter commitments pick up their momentum and often there is an increased pace and intensity in adult work life. At some points in our life journey, we may welcome the increased energy, sense of purpose and increased level of involvement that the changing colours of autumn signify.
Yet, we might also experience quite a different reaction. The changing colours, shorter days and cooler weather may lead to feelings of anxiety and even panic. Individuals may experience sleep problems, low mood, fatigue, and anxious thoughts. Some clinicians, like Dr. Claire Morrison of MedExpress refer to this as “autumn anxiety”.
Clearly this is an energy charged time of year. This energic charge is associated both with change and transition in our lives, and also often with things continuing or returning to a pattern that has been going on for a long time in our lives.
The Importance of the Flow That We Are
Human life—our life—is a fine interweaving of things that remain constant and continuous in our personal journey, and things that evolve, turn, and change. The combination of that which changes and that which continues forms the fabric of our lives.
The autumn seasonal change makes us acutely aware of both continuity and change in our lives. It is a potential compact major life transition that occurs with great regularity in our lives. It leads us to ask profound questions about our unique personal journey.
If we, as adults, look closely at this autumn seasonal change, what does it tell us about the direction and flow of our lives? How are we actually feeling about the direction of our lives? Suppose we look at our major commitments, work, family and personal, and if we reflect deeply on how we will spend our time over the months until next summer. Do we have a sense of value and meaning associated with our lives, and with the places we will be investing our time? Does it feel that we’re actually living our true lives?
Sometimes it’s easy for us to sidestep this kind of question. At times, it can feel like this kind of question is just too big or difficult to open up. Yet, sometimes despite ourselves, the autumn seasonal change can often open up this kind of question in our lives. It can make us aware of our how important it is to make key choices about what we will do “with our one wild and precious life” to quote distinguished American poet Mary Oliver. It is deeply connected with discernment of what the truest and wisest part of who we are is telling us about the meaning of our lives. This is precisely what C.G. Jung described as the process of individuation.
Autumn Seasonal Change: Travelling with Our Flowing Lives
The autumnal seasonal change can certainly bring home key questions surrounding what has value and meaning in our lives—sometimes in dramatic ways. It may be a time of deep importance in our personal journey, if we can be open to the voice of the season, and if we try and discern the call of our deepest personhood, what Jung called the Self.
We may strongly feel the need to move in new directions. Or we may recognize the need to affirm and commit to paths that we are already travelling. Whether either, or both is the case, the autumn seasonal change can be an important meeting with elements of our real identity.
Travelling the path to our own uniqueness is one of life’s key tasks. As we journey, interaction with a supportive Jungian depth psychotherapist may be of great value in discerning the way forward that is genuinely our own.
Wishing you every good thing or your personal journey,
Brian Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist and
Certified Clinical Anxiety Treatment Professional
© Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario