Self-Individuation during Quarantine(Part Two)
Practical tips and ideas on becoming a more complete person
In Part One of this series on Self-Realization, Individuation, and how to develop the Jungian archetype of the Self, we looked at the differences between realization and individuation, the role of the shadow and the ego, and began our discussion on the masculine and feminine duality in each of us or as Jung calls it the anima/animus. So let’s begin right where we left off.
Carl Jung discussed the anima/animus frequently in his writings and teachings, believing that its integration into the psyche was a crucial step along the path to Self-individuation — and ultimately realization. The anima is the archetype that expresses the fact that men have a minority of feminine qualities, while the animus is the masculine qualities within a woman. We all know this intuitively, but Jung relates the concepts of the anima and animus with the Ancient Greeks ideas on Eros and Logos. Eros (the female) is associated with receptivity, creativity, relationships, and wholeness. Logos (the male) is distinguished with action, power, and rationality. The Greeks defined Eros as ‘love’ or ‘life energy’ and Logos as ‘knowledge’ and ‘order.’
When I first read about the anima/animus, I immediately thought of how modern neuroscience correlates the right hemisphere of the brain with creativity, imagination, intuition, in the same manner that Jung believes the feminine part of us (Eros) controls. Similarly, the left hemisphere of the brain (Logos) is known to be very rational, logical, and analytical. If you have never read Carl Jung’s psychology or cared to believe in it, this short example just shows how far ahead Jung was of his time (as well as the ancient Greeks).
Anima is a personification of all feminine tendencies, both positive and negative, in a man’s psyche. Examples of positive expression include sensitivity, empathy, capacity for loving relationships, and a deep love for nature. When repressed, the anima becomes deformed and can result in sensitivity being replaced by moodiness; fidelity turning into possessiveness; aesthetics becoming sensual; empathy morphing into a form of effeminacy; imagination becoming obsessive fantasizing.
Meanwhile, the animus is the personification of masculine tendencies in a woman’s psyche. Positive representations of this archetype include ambition, strength, courage, assertiveness, and rationality. When a woman neglects or rejects her masculine side, she tends to lose control over the positive aspects of it and become possessed by the animus. This results in assertiveness turning into aggression and analytical thought becoming stubbornness.
Avoiding Repression of the Anima and Animus
Some of us choose to repress the qualities of ourselves that are of the opposite sex, either consciously or subconsciously. If it is conscious, I urge you to realize the good that comes out of incorporation of your anima/animus and the relief that you will feel from not actively trying to ignore or repress it.
For many though, we subconsciously neglect our anima/animus, as society has conditioned us to act in a way that reflects our gender. This holds true for men far too often, as we reinforce in one another this stereotype about the ‘ideal man’ being completely dominant, athletic, powerful, and unyielding. Our feminine qualities are all too often ignored or rejected. Even women often have a hard time realizing and integrating their animus into their psyche. Society has an equally finite definition of what a woman is and how they should act and think.
So how do we practically begin to integrate our anima/animus and shadow into our psyche and overcome our persona to realize the Self?
Seek and Maintain Awareness
Be aware of yourself throughout the day. While this seems obvious, oftentimes we struggle with simply being aware of the moment. Something like meditation is incredibly helpful for this. I know you are probably sick and tired of hearing about meditation, but meditation is so key because once you realize how effortless it is to just be present, you can come back to this mentality and mindset anytime of the day and under any circumstance. Say you are stressed out about finding a new job through all of this — being able to put your pain and struggles away for a second and recognize the present moment allows you to simply be. It cultivates awareness of what you are doing, feeling, and gives you a look at your inner Self.
Western society has become much less stigmatized towards mental health and its constituents (ie. psychotherapy, analysis, meditation, etc) over the last few years. Yet, I believe that we have a long way to go still. Psychoanalysis and simply talking with a mental health professional is something that every individual should not only do, but should be encouraged to do (government subsidies, employer-paid therapy, etc).
That is a different topic for a different time, but how can you use analysis to begin to realize your true Self and come to self-realization?
Analysis is an individuation process, as it actually accelerates individuation and creates conditions in the relationship between patient and analyst which offer the possibility for rarefied experiences and transformation of Self which otherwise may not happen.
This is because the analyst allows the participant to join in a quest for the truth; through expression and experience of the Self, in ways which are often prohibited by the compromises made in the service of social acceptance in non-analytic relationships.
Conversely, the one goal while working with an analyst is to explore your psyche and the analyst’s only promise is to help you explore depths of your mind that you have only begun to understand. In return the analyst asks that you be open and honest, while being receptive to change — even at the cost of painful realizations.
During quarantine, finding an analyst to work with is not easy, but there are many options out there; you can explore Jungian analysts or other mental health professionals in your area and begin virtual sessions with them. Other options include apps like Sanvello, BetterHelp, Talkspace, Lakr, Regain, and many, many others. The mental health space is really exploding right now, providing opportunities for entrepreneurs and investors alike, while giving consumers new and innovative solutions and/or help with their lives.
Socialize (from a safe distance)
While Self-Individuation is very much a solo journey, (as the name suggests) Carl Jung believed that it was very important to understand that it was also a relational journey. The self is relational, as we relate our self-identities and therefore individuation is dependent upon relationships with others. Jung went so far as to say:
“The self is relatedness… The self only exists inasmuch as you appear. Not that you are, but that you do the self. The self appears in your deeds and deeds always mean relationship.”
Self-individuation is a journey inwards, yet our actions take place in a world much greater than ourselves. The good that we do for ourselves (ie. being happy and grateful) is only so great when compared with doing good for others and helping them with their struggles.
During this time, I encourage you to stay close with your friends, no matter how hard it may be. Reach out to someone that you haven’t spoken to in a long time and have a conversation that goes beyond basic small talk. Really do your best to put yourself in their shoes and understand their struggles during this time and find out how you can help them. You will also find how few (or many) friends you truly have during a time like this. You begin to see that the strongest relationships are the most important and the rest are based on a fragile social fabric.
Finally, if you find time go volunteer. I know places like food banks are completely overwhelmed. Put on a mask, get off your ass, and go do some good. Volunteering is great because you get to help out others and in turn feel good about yourself, but also you get to meet really amazing and kind people!
Ultimately, self-realization is what we are all striving for. We all want to be free. Free from our impulses and appetitive desires. From the dullness of everyday life. Self-realization allows for us to understand our meaning and purpose in life and live by our weltanschauung or philosophy of life with complete and utter confidence.
After one begins to develop their psyche beyond their persona, they can then integrate their shadow and anima/animus archetypes into the deepest and highest reaches of their psyche. They can find the pure wholeness they have been searching for — which Jung named the ‘Self’, the most significant of all the archetypes. The Self embraces everything we are now, and everything we once were, as well as everything we could potentially become; it is the God or cosmic particles within us — that which we are as a totality.
Jung believed that it is the ultimate purpose of human life to experience this coming together of the whole. To fully integrate and make conscious everything about ourselves that was hidden in the unconscious.
So quit watching Netflix and going on Instagram and put in some time and energy to the only thing that really matters: your own process of self-individuation.