SELF-AWARENESS IS GRADUAL
and worth every step
Previous: Healthy Individuation, (Part 1)
Read about “The Way of Individuation”, by Jolande Jacobi, 1967 in article by Martha Blake
REMINDER: See ACRONYM Page for abbrev.
Field-INdependent (F-I) – having a reasonable amount of S & I:
Individuation is expressed by being inner-directed, which means mainly gaining a sense of identity & value from our own unique nature, not just from our heredity & social training – OR how we are perceived by others! We gradually become F-I, knowing what we think & how to act, based on rigorous honesty, staying awake (mindfulness) & self-evaluation – rather than trying to figure out who we are & how to interact with others by people-pleasing (passive) or being controlling (aggressive).
• Being internally motivated is associated with overall psychological and physical health : pleasant emotions, improved conceptual and creative thinking, superior memory recall, enhanced performance & willingness to engage in a wide variety of tasks. The most original, creative and outstanding men and women are clearly ‘marching to their own drummer’, (there’s a significant correlation between F-I and IQ), but expressing one’s highest potential isn’t limited to an elite group – it’s available to all human beings with the courage of their convictions.
• Field-Independents are internally motivated by their True Self, which is based on self-esteem. Introverts are naturally inner-directed, but most do not have a healthy Self. So Introversion & being F-I are not synonymous.
• While Extroverts are naturally outer-directed they can still be F-I when emotionally healthy. Since being F-I comes from having good boundaries & permission to have all ones needs, it doesn’t limit or undermine the degree of Individuation anyone can achieve
• F-Is have the ability to focus on details in their environment in spite of the clutter of background ‘noise’, extracting what they need from non-relevant items within the field (as in “pick the item in this picture that doesn’t belong”).
• They’re able to create structure even when it is not inherent in a given situation, tend to be more efficient at retrieving items from memory & so frame current experiences & info in the context of prior knowledge
• They learn more effectively by screening out distracting information and focusing on a task, often favoring natural sciences, math, engineering – but not exclusively. ALSO, they can step back to see the whole forest (the background) not just the tree in front of them (the foreground).
• F-Is are able to have successful relationships with others in many different settings. They don’t wait to be chosen but are pro-active in choosing who they want to interact with and how. They can stay or leave, depending on what they know is suitable for them, or not.
Stages of Individuation
Individuation is the development of the psyche, which matures in much the same way as the physical body. It’s about uniting opposites in ourselves – good & bad, light & dark, male & female. A number of Jungian psychologists have divided this process into 4 stages, each with its dangers that must be avoided, and each with its rewards:
• Becoming conscious of the shadow
Facing our ‘dark side‘ – things we’ve repressed or ignored. Just as the Persona is what we present to the world, so the Shadow holds all the things we want to hide from the world, but mainly from ourselves
• Becoming conscious of the anima or animus
This has to do with sexual wholeness. The anima is the ‘inner femininity’ of men & the animus the ‘inner masculinity’ of women. Jung (1978) wrote that the anima and animus represent “functions which filter the contents of the collective unconscious through to the conscious mind”, coloring the Ego’s perception of Self & others in many different ways.
• Becoming conscious of the archetypal spirit
This is about uniting matter and spirit, body and mind – facing both the good & evil we are all capable of. It’s also about liberating us from our same-sex parent. For men the archetype is the ‘Wise old Man’, & for women the ‘Magna Mater’, the great earth mother.
• Becoming conscious of the Self
Jung (1977) called this final step ‘self-realization’. Jacobi (1973) wrote: “For the conscious personality, the birth of the Self means a shift in its psychic center, and consequently an entirely different attitude toward, and view of, life”. (Read more….)
If we can accept that we have our own specific lessons to learn, we’ll welcome them instead of complaining. Lessons come into our life in ever tighter circles until we’re completed them, so understanding the stages of change & accepting the spiral nature of self-healing can help us recognize our successes and appreciate our hard work.
1. We start by developing awareness – noticing that something isn’t right, in the quality of our life & relationships. It greatly helps if we cultivate a non-judgmental, observer’s point of view & a friendly curiosity about ourselves. This kind yet detached attitude helps us avoid triggering the old patterns which evolved originally as self-protection. It’s imperative that we don’t go into S-H, attacking ourselves when we see these patterns – again – so that we don’t add to our pain, especially if we thought they’ve already been ‘fixed’. No more salt in our wounds, please!
2. We can choose an alternative – once we understand how we ‘mess up’ by following the Toxic Family Rules. This step is about action – but not trying for perfection in any part of our life. Choose a healthy opposite to break the trance of doing things the old, familiar way. It can be a very powerful experience. Switching to a healthy action (or non-action when appropriate) often brings up emotions of fear, guilt & shame, even anger, or sometimes feeling hopeless & suicidal – so be prepared to get the support needed on those occasions.
3. Then it’s about practicing what we learn – over & over. Patience is not our favorite thing, but it IS the main way we get better at anything – from sports to the arts to emotional, mental & spiritual growth. AND as long as we actively work to Individuate, we continually get new info about ourselves, which we have to accept & then practice new actions.
NEXT:” What is abuse?”