The New Year: My Personal Journey and the Individuation Process
The New Year is often a time that is associated with a sense of renewal and new beginnings. It is often associated with the tradition of “New Year’s resolutions”, which are often associated with the idea of “Making a new beginning”. Now, of course, resolutions are not always kept, and the sense of a new beginning may falter, even by, say, the third week of January!
Photo by Vlad Bagacian
Yet there is another way of looking at the beginning of a New Year. Each New Year is connected to the year before it, and the year after it, and so is part of the great continuity of time. We all live our lives as part of a continuity through time and, with each year’s passing, we are reminded of the passing of time in our lives.
If we think of our lives as a journey, what are we to make of this unique journey that we have each been on? How are we to make sense of it, and find value in it?
My Personal Journey
One of the deepest metaphors hard-wired into the human psyche is the fundamental metaphor of human life as a journey. In recognizing this, contemporary neuroscience has acknowledged the existence of what Jung would call an archetype. As Jung reminds us in his own words, echoing the age-old fundamental human metaphor:
Life is not a problem to be solved, but a journey to be experienced.
If it’s true that life is most basically a journey to be experienced—well then, what has my unique life journey been about? What have I experienced?
As we come through this time of the ending of one year, and the beginning of another, it may be important time to reflect on the journey of our lives, and to ask what is emerging in the course of our life journey.
My Unique Course
It can be easy sometimes to click into a mental space where we feel like our life is pretty much like everyone else’s. We can easily get locked into a mindset where we feel that our life is pretty much a succession of experiences that are pretty much clones of what everyone else experiences. This particular meme often gets played upon by advertisers and mass media.
The problem with such an outlook is that we can miss what is unique about our lives. Those individually unique characteristics and experiences most often carry what is precious in our lives. It’s essential to ask ourselves where we have really been in our lives, and what experiences we have in our lives that have actually been the most powerful and meaningful for us. When we get in touch with those pieces of our life, we start to really take in what our life journey has actually been—and where it may be leading us.
As the great German author Hermann Hesse reminds us:
[Everyone] is more than just [themselves]; [he or she] also represents the unique, the very special and always significant and remarkable point at which the world’s phenomena intersect, only once in this way and never again [italics mine].
My Own Personal Road: The Individuation Process
Often, what we are going through now in our lives can be seen in a different light if we look at it against the background of our entire life journey. What are the most important experiences—positive or negative or in-between—in your life journey? How do these experiences influence how you see what you are going through now in your life? This might be a particularly important question to ask if you are currently undergoing experiences of depression, anxiety or grief.
If we look at your life as your own particular unique personal journey, and we look at the story of that journey as your own unique personal myth, an important question is where can we find value and meaning in that story. To search for this meaning is an essential part of our living.
I hope that genuine engagement with yourself will lead to depth and reality. Often, connection with a supportive Jungian depth psychotherapist can assist in bringing you closer to that genuine engagement.
May connection with, and reflection upon, your personal journey, bring you into ever deeper contact with the value and meaning of your unique life.
Registered Psychotherapist and
Certified Jungian Analyst (IAAP)
Certified Clinical Anxiety Treatment Professional
© Brian Collinson, 2024