Start by asking yourself these few questions:
- Have you ever done something or reacted in a way that didn’t make sense?
- Have you ever ever felt like there's a dark side to you?
- Have you ever felt disconnected from your mind, body and soul?
If you’ve answered yes to any of the above questions then don’t worry— this is pretty normal. In fact, it’s something that psychology can explain.
This can be explained by Jung’s psychology.
This is the only psychology that seeks the meaning of an individual’s life in his or her relationship to the problem of the opposites — good and evil, light and dark, love and hate.
The goal is to figure out the stages of inner development and of the growth of the personality. But first who is Jung?
His full name is Carl Jung.
Carl Jung founded the school of analytical psychology. He’s created a lot of psychological concepts we use today like collective unconscious and archetypes, which we’ll dive deeper into later on.
Jung believed that most of our questions, most of our sufferings, arise from the distresses of the human “soul” or psyche. His work was centred around cracking the dialogue between ego-consciousness and the psyche. This has helped us better our selves, life patterns, our dreams, and so on.
One question that I’m sure a lot of us have found ourselves pondering over is “What is the goal off life?”. This is the exact question that leads Jung to an answer which shaped his work.
The answer lies in Individuation.
Individuation is the process of coming to know and harmonizing the various components of the psyche.
Human beings are inwardly whole, but most of us have lost touch with important parts of our selves. Jung believed that by listening to the messages of our dreams and imagination, we can contact and reintegrate our different parts.
If we reflect on these things, we can tap into our true selves. This starts with the union of conscious and unconscious.
The unconscious is the aspect of the psyche that does not usually enter the individual’s awareness, but appears in our behavior or in dreams.
The unconscious includes half-baked intentions, repression of painful thoughts, and feelings that the person cannot easily accept about themselves.
These can include things that:
- I know but I’m not thinking about;
- I was once conscious of but I’ve now forgotten
- Things perceived by the senses but not noticed by my conscious mind
- Involuntarily and without noticing it, I feel, think, remember, want and do;
- It is taking shape in me and will come to consciousness at some point.
→ Implication: We are made up of a collection of knowledge and imagery that every person is born with and is shared by all human beings due to ancestral experience. Most people don’t usually know their thoughts and images are in their collective unconscious, usually in moments of crisis we can tap into the collective unconscious.
Jung worked with Sigmund Freud, who was another prominent early psychologist. They had very similar ideas but one major difference between their explanations of the unconscious is that Freud believed that the unconscious was the product of personal experiences, and Jung believed that the unconscious was the product of collective experiences inherited in the genes.
Future of Collective Unconscious: Gut Bacteria
There is a lot of research regarding the collective unconscious being looked at from the perspective of the genes in gut bacteria that outnumber the genes in the human body. These bacteria may produce neuroactive compounds that may be part of the collective unconscious which regulates human behaviour.
We use the mind to get to know what’s inside the mind. And archetypes are inside the mind. Can you see why it’s challenging to work with archetypes?
Only the Self — your psychic center — can organize the mind. And yet, the Self is often unavailable because archetypes command our attention. This is why it’s important to understand these:
Archetypes are the forms or images that occur all over the earth. The things we see in ancient religions, myths, legends, and fairy tales. We find evidence of archetypes in our dreams, fantasies, and behaviour.
Every character in both our personal dreams and collective myths is an archetype. Archetypes are all around us (in the characters of the stories we read, the films we watch, and pop culture).
To a certain extent these influence our relationships and interactions with others and ourselves.
The four Jungian Archetypes are the 4 proposed by Jung that he believes everyone’s personality contains. These can be a powerful tool 🛠️ for spiritual evolution and can help you reach your full potential in life.
These archetypes the Shadow, the Anima/Animus, the Persona, and the Self.
1. The Shadow
Our shadow is a collection of repressed aspects of our identity. Things we reject or repress because we don’t like this about ourselves or we think society won’t like it.
A Few Examples:
 A tendency to harshly & impulsively judge others.
 Pointing out our own insecurities as flaws in another person.
 Exercising power over another person is the shadow’s way of compensating for our own feelings of helplessness in the face of greater force.
 Playing the “victim” -> feeling like unfortunate things happen to you.
Projection: Although our conscious minds are avoiding our own flaws, they still want to deal with them on a deeper level, so we magnify those flaws in others. This explains why a lot of us might have a hard time admitting that we were wrong. Our ego acts as a defence mechanism. Beneath our ego is a huge bulk of our repressed thoughts, memories, emotions, impulses, traits, and actions. These “rejected” pieces coming together to form an unseen piece of our personality underneath our awareness that is secretly controlling much of what we say, believe, and do.
The greater your shadow, the less control you have over your identity. A lot of how we act or things we don’t do it because of how we grew up, our environment and stereotypes in society. These “inappropriate” qualities disrupt the flow of a functioning society. Anyone who is too challenging becomes outcast, and everyone else moves on. From an evolutionary standpoint, this makes sense why we want to fit into the rest of our tribe. So, in order to avoid being cast out, we do whatever it takes to fit in.
It is often early in our childhood development, we find where the line between what is socially “acceptable” and “unacceptable” is, and we spend the rest of our lives trying to toe it.
A good action item for this is to start acting as a third eye for yourself. Since you’re more likely to see your insecurities in others, if you can catch yourself asking why you did something or said something to someone, then you’ll be able to map out insecurities or whatever is repressed.
2. Anima and Animus
The Anima is the feminine aspect of a man’s unconscious while the Animus is the male aspect of the female unconscious.
Society + our upbringing often have a huge influence on this and may have caused us to repress traits viewed as belonging to the opposite gender.
The Anima is the feminine aspect of a man’s unconscious while the Animus is the male aspect of the female unconscious. Integrated human beings are made up of a balance of ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’ energies.
However, society and our upbringing may have caused us to repress traits viewed as belonging to the opposite gender. In order to become whole, we must integrate both the masculine and feminine into our psyche.
Feminine and masculine archetypes are made to balance each other. When unbalanced, we may behave in stereotypical ways. Some of these might not be 100% true because they are very based on stereotypes which can widely vary. For example, we are assuming that all men are competitive and without the complementary feminine nurturing aspect, would become too competitive. This might not be true in all cases but generally follows.
The animus and the anima should function as a bridge, or a door, leading to the images of the collective unconscious, as the persona should be a sort of bridge into the world.
3. The Persona
The persona is the mask or image we present to the world.
This is designed to make a particular impression on others and generally conceal our true nature. But this takes us into our unconscious because we don’t realize that we are wearing a mask.
We all have certain ‘masks’ we put on in order to interact socially in a variety of situations. For example, you probably act differently around your family, your friends or your teachers. We have a bunch of personas that we can leverage for different situations. This is often to feel more of a sense of belonging in a group and to feel accepted.
Shadow = repressing traits others won’t approve of.
Persona = over-developing traits others encouraged.
The main benefit of not getting too attached to this persona is the ability to develop in other parts of your personality. For example, a workaholic might need to learn to identify less with that Persona and develop other areas of their personality.
4. The Self
The Self is both what we are consciously aware of, and the massive experience and potential remaining unconscious.
All of the pieces I mentioned above come together to collectively form a well-developed Self. Our conscious self or ego is only a tiny part of our totality, which makes sense because there is only so much memory or experience we can hold in mind at any one time. There are also areas of possibility beyond what we usually think of as our personal selves.
Action Items for Archetypes
It could be interesting to write down any dreams you have which you remember & reflecting on them at a later time. It is also a good idea to pay attention to the types of stories and characters you are naturally drawn to both in literature, TV, and movies, to see if they shed light on the state of your psyche.
Generally, if certain archetypes resonate with you, it might indicate which areas you need to work on healing and integrating.
✌️I’ve been loving learning about philosophies lately. I think it’s a great way for us to develop thought leadership & formulate unique insights about the world.
If you have any points or questions on this and want to chat more I’d love to connect:)
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