We all carry pain from our past. Repressed pain surfaces in situations that trigger it, in dreams, our relationships, and in therapy. Very often we spend our lives re-living our painful patterns of behaviour and emotion over and over….
Sometimes past pain surfaces for a very different purpose: not merely to repeat old patterns but to be integrated into our consciousness.
Integration means we make repressed memories and past pain “part of the whole,” part of who I am.
Integration also means “marrying our opposites.” Each of us has opposites: relationship vs. need for independence; anger vs. gentleness; masculine qualities vs. feminine qualities in one psyche….
We marry someone who, unknown to ourselves, is a “mirror-image” of our repressed opposite side. The result is either mutual conflict or inner growth toward integration.
We may divorce or become more like our partner, our “opposite,” which is really becoming more of who we already are but didn’t know!
Our life path can either be spent denying our opposite qualities or integrating them. Usually we do both!
C.G. Jung, contemporary of Sigmund Freud, wrote about the “collective unconscious.” Jung observed similar themes in dreams, art, and religion “at all times and places.” For example, the Christian theme of birth, death, and resurrection is not unique to Christianity. It even occurs in one form or another in dreams of non-religious people, even cross-culturally.
This discovery led Jung to the concept of a “collective unconscious,” essentially an unconscious we all share, in addition to our personal unconscious.
The collective unconscious creates dreams and symbols that recur in people of every culture “at all times and places.” These dreams are not merely images, they are expressions of a lifelong process in which one’s psyche integrates or “marries” all one’s hidden opposite qualities…and “gives birth” to what Jung called “the Self.”
This process is a spiritual transformation, and it is regarded as such in many religions. But one need not be religious for this transformation to take place.
Jung described “archetypes,” images appearing in dreams, art, and religion that not only symbolize the process of integration of the psyche, which he called “individuation,” but which actually direct this process!
These activating archetypes let the conscious mind know where one is in the individuation process. When one is conscious of one’s archetypal dreams, this awareness speeds the process culminating in the birth of the Self. I call this process of individuation the Journey.