Life is about becoming who you always were

I’ve always been interested in ideas about life, often based in psychology or philosophy. In my twenties, inspiring ideas were meaningful to work through problems or just to become more fulfilled. Besides cigarettes and cd’s, most of my money went to books. One of the most interesting psychotherapists I read about was Carl Gustav Jung. He can be considered as one of the fathers of contemporary positive psychology. When Jung was thirty, he sent his work to Sigmund Freud. They met in 1907 and this marked the beginning of a close friendship and an intense collaboration. But Jung didn’t always agree with Freud and eventually launched his own school of analysis, based on dream theory and spirituality.

Probably influenced by Eastern philosophies and religions, Jung adopted a dualistic framework of positive psychology in recognizing that human nature can be inherently good and bad. There can be no wholeness without realizing our brokenness, and no self-actualization without suffering. A human being is suffering when she has not yet discovered what life means to her. We should look for something that will take possession of us and give us meaning. Therefore Jung emphasized growth, development and individuation as lifelong processes.

Individuation is the central concept of Jungian psychology. It’s a process of transformation in which we try to integrate seemingly contradictions in ourselves (no good without bad, right?). To learn more about ourselves and our experiences and to notice how we’re different from other people, is an expansion of our consciousness. Individuation is not all about external situations and experiences. It’s about discovering the divine in ourselves so as to become a well-functioning whole. Life is about becoming who you really are and always were. And according to Jung, that should be our most important goal in life.

Here are some of my favourite Carl Jung quotes…

About you and the world around you

  • Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.
  • Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens.
  • The first half of life is devoted to forming a healthy ego, the second half is going inward and letting go of it.
  • We cannot change anything unless we accept it.
  • Show me a sane man and I will cure him for you.
  • Man needs difficulties; they are necessary for health.
  • Enlightenment is not imagining figures of light, but making the darkness conscious.
  • Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.
  • The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances; if there is any reaction, both are transformed.
  • Intuition does not denote something contrary to reason, but something outside of the province of reason.

 About astrology

  • Astrology is of particular interest to the psychologist, since it contains a sort of psychological experience which we call “projected” — this means that we find the psychological facts as it were in the constellations. This originally gave rise to the idea that these factors derive from the stars, whereas they are merely in a relation of synchronicity with them. I admit that this is a very curious fact which throws a peculiar light on the structure of the human mind.
  • The fact that astrology nevertheless yields valid results proves that it is not the apparent positions of the stars which work, but rather the times which are measured or determined by arbitrarily named stellar positions. Time thus proves to be a stream of energy filled with qualities and not, as our philosophy would have it, an abstract concept or precondition of knowledge.
  • We are born at a given moment, in a given place and, like vintage years of wine, we have the qualities of the year and of the season of which we are born. Astrology does not lay claim to anything more.

About education

  • At present we educate people only up to the point where they can earn a living and marry; then education ceases altogether, as though a complete mental outfit had been acquired. Vast numbers of men and women thus spend their entire lives in complete ignorance of the most important things.
  • Thinking is difficult, that’s why most people judge.

About the meaning of life

  • I had grown up in the country, among peasants. Incest and perversions were no remarkable novelties to me. Along with criminality, they formed part of the black lees that spoiled the taste of life by showing me all too plainly the ugliness and meaninglessness of human existance. My whole being was seeking for something still unknown which might confer meaning upon the banality of life.
  • What did you do as a child that made the hours pass like minutes? Herein lies the key to what you should be doing in your worldly pursuits.
  • I am not what has happened to me. I am what I choose to become.
  • The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.