THIS. This is why I’m still doing this series; this is why I started in the first place.
Welcome to Day 9 of “30 Days of Jung,” my series, wherein (soon, I will start repeating myself, like now) I take a famous quote of Carl G. Jung‘s and try to make sense or refute or invert or disembowel it or where I turn into a heaping pile of mush because of it in 1,000 words or less.
If you don’t know who Jung is, he formulated the theories of introverted and extroverted personalities, the stages of individuation, the basis of the “Meyers-Briggs” personality (INFJ / ESFJ, etc.) tests. He’s the “father” of modern-day psychoanalysis. In short, he’s a badass. But he’s dead, so he can’t be with us today.
My first exposure to Jung was in college, naturally, when I pronounced his name with the hard “J” sound; I also pronounced “Goethe” as “Goy-thee” and was summarily laughed out of English 101. I also pronounced “Tucson” as “Tuck-son” when I was little and was also laughed at by
assholes scholars. Did I say that? Anyway, when I read Jung’s “What irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves” back in college, I was in. Jung, to me, was the one badass who was willing to Call People Out for their crap; he was like the “Oh Yeah?!” guy who you need just before a knife fight in a darkened city parking lot.
So today’s quote is this stuff, this heady stuff which is why I love Jung so much:
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
― C.G. Jung
BOOM! Jung drops mic, walks off the stage.
End the count at 1,290.
I’m a woo-woo person; I like to believe that fate guides us. I also like to believe in free lunches, Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and Cap’n Crunch. I know that the “I am where I am meant to be” mantra helps prevent overwhelming angst, but I also know that those concepts, while stress-relieving for the most part (and that’s where for me their benefit lies) are also … sort of … well sometimes a load of crap.
For example: My son has a guitar lesson. It’s a five-minute drive. I can choose to leave eight minutes ahead of the start time to give him a chancy 3-minute cushion (a segment of which I can blame on ill-
fated -timed lights, a car accident, or a Kashi Go-Lean -filled little old lady who drives 15 miles per hour in a 40) while waiting for the lesson to start. Whatever the scenario, the choice is mine. I can continue to give me that possibly stressful 3-minutes, thereby making my son a nervous tic for the first ten minutes of his lesson or I can consciously decide to leave ten minutes early and get to the lesson several minutes early.
I know what I need to do. But here’s Jung hissing (’cause he’s dead) over my shoulder: “But what do you want to do?”
Another case in point: I’m a little hungry and I’m writing most of these posts 12 hours in advance and so just now, I wanted (unconsciously) to go eat a brownie, but as I approached, I actually felt the shift in my consciousness, and I chose a cheese stick and water instead. I heard myself say to myself, simply because I am writing this post, “Self, if I eat the brownie, I will regret it because it’s all sugar and I’ll be pissed later because it certainly won’t help me stay healthy.” So I growled at myself and got the cheese stick (pepper jack, thank you very much) and a big bottle of water and while I’m not exactly thrilled I chose against the tastier treat and I know that the cheese will satisfy me longer, I am psyched that I noticed the shift in my consciousness and chose the healthier option.
Basically this quote to me is the “prove it” quote. As far as I’m concerned. it only applies to adults, by the way. We all have stories. We all have suffering and we all have joys. What this quote means to me is that we have a choice, again. It also feels like it’s also about fear, again.
In order to grow up, pull up our big people panties and stop blaming “fate” for our lives, we need to wake the hell up and take stock of our lives and commit to living the best possible way we can. If we are asleep / unconscious, we continually focus on fate as being what we’d rather use as ammunition to blame our current predicament on (obesity, bad marriage, bad job, crappy relationships, parenting challenges, addiction, etc.).
Say there’s someone who complains about their second marriage and troubled relationships with kids and friends and that the lack of self-esteem is blamed on a crappy childhood and sexist parents and everyone else is the problem. Let’s say this person drinks a bottle of wine every day, during the afternoon with lunch, y’know, because we all do that, either with friends or alone and then more with the spouse at dinner despite it being against doctor’s orders. Add in some inappropriate emotionally adulterous relationships with other, much younger people even though the spouse is bending over backwards to give attention and by all accounts from this person, demonstrations of love and support, even if somewhat controlling (due to worry). This person continues to see the patterns, even suggests depression but stops therapy because it’s “too hard” and continues the obsessive bad habits and unhealthy relationships. These behaviors all sound like unconscious desperate attempts for attention because they are regardless of the interventions and psychiatric help. So one day I posit: “If you were reading about this person in People Magazine, what would you think? Does this story sound like someone who’s got it together or does it all sound a few DUIs and a custody battle away from a ‘LifeTime True Stories Original Movie’?”
The answer, “I know, but…”
So it continues. That person is unconscious and is calling this fate.
I shrug. If I’m not careful, my unconscious could take over and ignite my addiction to chaos (which I’ve written about extensively) and I’d be in the movie too. So I walk away.
Speaking of walking…
I just watched Nik Wallenda cross the Grand Canyon from 1,500 feet up on a tight wire that was two inches in diameter. It took him 22 minutes. Doing anything consistently for 22 minutes without a break is hard, I can’t imagine it on a tight wire in the wind. He was carrying a 45-lb, 30-foot-long beam held by a yoke across his shoulders. That dude? He wasn’t unconscious; he wasn’t calling this his “fate!” He was aware, focused, determined and quite connected –in every possible way– to the elements: he was aware of the wind, he was wearing leather booties, he was wearing skinny jeans (!?) and he was praying and praising Jesus like an Olde Tyme Preacher, but maaaan… he was conscious.
Do you think he blames “fate” for his ability to cross? Do you think he’s any different from me and you? Sure, he has tons of training, but other than that, he looks like any average American middle-aged man who’s spent his Saturdays at the ball park. He wasn’t a beach body, he wasn’t super tall or fabulously handsome. He wasn’t even charismatically fantabulous; he’d probably bore me to tears at a picnic, but:
THE DUDE HAS CHARACTER and consciousness. We all have that potential. We all can be conscious and take control of our lives and stop looking for things to blame, which until that day we choose otherwise, have been our main reason we might not be truly happy.