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  • Why Go On a Journey of Self Discovery? Why Now?

    The phrase “a journey of self discovery” may seem a little over-used and cliche, but the symbol of human life as a journey is as archetypal as it gets.

    PHOTO: Stock Photo Secrets


    The idea that humans need to go on a journey where the destination is self-knowledge is also very ancient. Socrates, Plato, Pythagoras and Aristotle all urged their followers to “Know thyself”. The impulse to know and understand ourselves was actually already very old even in their time. What is it about understanding ourselves that is so important?

    Well, Jung helps us to understand that self-knowledge is connected to wholeness. Knowing ourselves, being connected to the various parts of ourselves, and fundamentally accepting ourselves, in Jung’s conception are key to having a meaningful life. It’s only when we can start to see all the various parts of ourselves, and meet all those parts with kindness, that we can begin to experience a sense of who we are as individuals, and to live that out in a meaningful way.

    The Call of the Moment

    Many people are finding that the issue of self-knowledge has become important at this particular time. This is occurring as people encounter various issues and situations in their lives, a good number of which have been intensified by the pandemic. While in some cases the pandemic created these situations, it seems, more often, that people are finding that issues and questions that they have been living with for a long time have been brought into clearer focus by these unusual times.

    Here are some examples of situations where people have been finding that the issue of self-knowledge has come into focus.

    • An individual has been confined to home by the pandemic with their spouse, and questions about what he or she wants from the marriage, and from life, have come into the foreground,
    • Pandemic conditions have changed peoples’ work situations in some very big ways, and individuals are asking themselves pressing questions about their work, and even more broadly about their overall sense of vocation, meaning or purpose in life.
    • With the lockdown, people have been spending more time inside, and on their own, and often find themselves thinking about issues from their past, or thinking about previously unexplored aspects of themselves, or about regrets or aspirations.

    These are all issues that many people had somewhere in their minds prior to the advent of COVID and the lockdown. Yet, it seems that, for many in this time, the questions and issues have become much more urgent.

    But Don’t I Know Myself Already?

    Now, many people feel that they know themselves well already, and have no real need to put effort into understanding themselves. They feel quite confident that they see and understand themselves as they really are. Yet there may be some indications that their self-understanding is not as great as they might think.

    Often, an individual might be surprised at what others who know them well might be able to tell them about themself, that the person either doesn’t know, or has only dimly suspected to be true about themselves. Jung is far from the only psychologist to note that other people know things about us of which we may still be unaware.

    This is because a substantial part of the human mind, and of our personhood, is unconscious. The unconscious mind, and the portions of the brain where it functions, are vast, indeed. A great portion of the operations of the brain occur in the unconscious. While Sigmund Freud was one of the first to refer to the unconscious mind, he tended to associate it with repressed content related to the sexual and aggressive drives. Today, the modern understanding of the unconscious mind has moved beyond this, and researchers such as Prof. Ap Dijksterhuis of Radboud University have shown that much feeling and emotion and much of the intuition and creative activity of human beings is grounded in the unconscious.

    It can be of great importance to become acquainted with the unconscious parts of ourselves, for our happiness and sense of meaning and fulfillment. Making a connection with the parts of ourselves that we know less well can lead to an increase in our sense of overall vitality, and our feeling of being genuinely connected to our own unique lives.

    Meeting the Undiscovered Self

    The journey of self discovery is an on-going process. It unfolds as we meet new stages of our experience in life, and we may particularly gain awareness when we go through major life transitions, such as the midlife transition, or the transition into retired life.

    A journey of self discovery can often be enhanced by working with the right type of case studies. Most often, for dealing with issues of meaning, fulfillment or integration of conscious and unconscious elements of the personality, working with a Jungian /a-midlife-transition can be of great benefit.

    With very best wishes for your journey to wholeness,


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