Updated: Aug 7
**Disclaimer: So I took a break last Sunday from posting. These last few weeks have been, intense. This entire year so far has been seemingly chaotic, to say the least. I know a lot of people have been feeling overwhelmed, restricted and downright upset with the world and current affairs which all the more seems to be amplified by social media. As with anything, there are pros and cons to social media. It can be a great tool if not the greatest tool of connection and networking and I know for a lot of folk it has been a saving grace during lockdown. It has allowed us to stay in touch with one another wherever we are in the world. The double edged sword I guess comes in the shape of being aware of things that we would otherwise be unaware of and therefor opening ourselves up to things that are distressing.
I’m not a celebrity. I’m not a politician or even a public speaker. I’m an independent creative. I’m a modern-day hippy who believes in peace, love and equality for all and if I can help at all in realising that vision then I guess that’s what I’ll do however with that comes the realization that we cannot force change outside of ourselves without changing within. If we want to change the world around us, we can only start with ourselves then hopefully that change will inspire others to do the same. No one has the right to change another’s views and equally no one has the right to control another’s life.**
What is Individuation?
There are a couple of interpretations of individuation but the one that resonates the most with me is Carl Jung’s perception of it and that is; the process of making the unconscious mind, conscious and in doing so, formulates a person’s psychology and their outward personality.
That is a basic understanding of it. To really delve into the process, it is important to identify the different aspects of the psyche; ego (our conscious mind), personal unconscious (where our hidden memories/influences lie) and according to Jung, the collective unconscious (the source of our instincts acquired genetically or psychically from the world around us).
This series has highlighted the fact that to better oneself, it is crucial to have a level of self-awareness. My previous posts have been designed with individuation in mind, that is identifying every aspect of ourselves from our conscious to unconscious or from our outer to our inner, to positively transform ourselves and in turn our lives.
How do we use individuation?
You may hear so many self-help gurus, preach about rising above the ego and they will mostly tell you that this can be reached via meditation.
Before attempting to ‘transcend the ego’ it is important to have a basic understanding of the ego. The ego is our immediate precursor to interacting with the world. It is where our conscious thoughts and emotions are generated. It is our interpreter for the mind and where our outward personality lies.
So why should we transcend the ego? Our ego is the home of our emotions. Our primary emotions can be broken down into; happiness, grief, anger and fear. Our emotions can be a great tool in translating situations that best serve us or don’t but when we start operating from our emotions, let’s say, a place of anger, it often breeds more anger and feelings of frustration and can, if not observed, lead us into self-destructive habits or patterns.
In order to best observe ourselves it is important to disengage from the outer (ego), this is why meditation is promoted. Don’t worry, I’m not expecting you to sit cross-legged, on the floor, rock back and forth and chant, meditation is simply the act of bringing your racing mind or better, your conscious mind to the present moment and can be done anywhere … although it is a lot easier to meditate in a place where there are minimal to no distractions.
Another way of doing this is through mindfulness, which I explored through my previous post. Click here if you wish to take a look at that.
How to differentiate between ego and unconscious?
This, like all good things comes with practice.
Jung was a huge believer in the meaning of dreams, I’m not on about people’s aspirations in life, but those mysterious scenes that play out in our mind when we sleep. Jung believed that the unconscious part of our mind tries to speak with us through various images and symbols that our conscious mind can then interpret and apply to our waking life.
In that respect, our unconscious mind is the well of our inner knowledge and wisdom. We already know what we want in life, we know what is good for us and what is bad for us and that lies within the unconscious.
That isn’t to say the ego is what makes us fail but due to its immediate interaction and sensitivity with and to the world around us, our ego can forget what we truly want as individuals and how best to get there, if it doesn’t converse with the unconscious.
Hopefully that makes sense.
What about the collective unconscious?
Once we have bridged the gap between the ego and the personal unconscious we can best explore and utilize the aspect of the collective unconscious.
I liken the collective unconscious to a river that is constantly flowing alongside and within ourselves. It is a well of knowledge that we can tap into if we allow ourselves to open up to it. It is the home of our instincts. These are our inbuilt compasses that all species possess and the purest form of seeing these comes when we are babies and children. The innocent side of us. The side of us that possesses no fear or anger but simply follow nature’s path of needing food, water, sleep and play. The blueprint to our species is found within the collective unconscious. That’s what I believe anyway. There is a common belief that no one is born hating. No one is born with fear. These things are learned via the ego, then the trauma from that is repressed within our personal unconscious.
So taking recent events into account, there is no coincidence that so many people were and are feeling distressed by recent events. There are a lot of people who were not sleeping properly, they felt the worry, the sadness, the fear of the uncertainty of the times. It’s akin to when animals can sense an earthquake coming. They can feel the ripples long before the waves crash or the ground shakes.
That is our collective unconscious and in order to utilize it to our own benefit, we need to realize that we are all connected via this invisible cord. Honestly, there would be very little to no conflict in the world if we learned this first, as children, opposed to modern academia.
So what now?
Individuation is a personal experience. Although we are all connected, we are all unique and need to recognise that aspect of ourselves. Society teaches us to conform without and to push back our true hopes and desires. We are all born with our own paths to walk but we forget what those are. We can resurface those paths by experiencing life and connecting with our inner compasses.
No single person but ourselves, can tell us what is our right path in life or indeed how to get there. Our lives are our own to navigate and that’s the beauty of it. The actual navigating is such a beautiful thing. Even when thwarted by negative influences but when we better understand ourselves we can better understand everyone and everything else. We can realise that when a person is operating on a lower frequency, it is because that person cannot transcend the ego and are coming from one of the four primary emotions. The important thing to remember is not to let another’s ego driven personality affect your own.
This is where individuation comes in useful. It is the process of uncovering our foundations as individuals and realizing that it was never the foundations that were shaky but the roof or the walls which can be taken down at any given time and rebuilt.
I do believe people can change but it can only ever come from that person themselves. They can experience things that move them enough to delve deeper than their ego receptors but no one can force them to.
Much like this inherent want for change in our current world, I do believe we have to recognise that if we want the rest of the world to change, or to wake up, we in fact need to start with ourselves. This process comes with patience and persistence and more than anything, a willingness to change.
So individuation? It is a process of transformation. The whole point of self-betterment is to constantly do and be better versions of ourselves so we can therefor lead and have better lives for ourselves and in effect for each other. It is much more beneficial for ourselves to raise each other up instead of tearing each other down. Why? Well that goes back to our collective unconscious. When there are great events that cause fear and hate or confusion perhaps that is the perfect time in taking a step back within ourselves and reconnecting our inner world to the outer.
The ancients had a tremendous understanding of this. It is simply our modern society that seems to have forgotten that.
If you liked this article or you'd like me to expand on any particular point be sure to drop a comment. To find out more about me have a look through the website or check me out on YouTube