The individuation process is something that, while painful, strange, and sometimes overwhelming, is one of the more important things you can do in your life! It helps bring you from a state of unconsciousness to a state of self-awareness, and my argument is that self-awareness is worth the process it often takes to reach it!
What Is The Individuation Process?
Carl Jung was a famous psychoanalyst who lived in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Some argue that he was (and still is) the greatest and most effective psychoanalyst in the history of mankind, and the reasoning for these assertions became clear after I read his books! He was (at least) a genius, and I make this conclusion after the application of his methods played a role in healing/integrating someone who was as broken as I was. It’s one of those instances where if his methods could help me they definitely have a high chance of helping you!
His method called the individuation process isn’t necessarily a method, rather it was him writing down a set of conclusions based on what he observed in himself and others. The details of the process and the process itself is different for each individual, however he observed some common patterns experienced by many of the people who began such a journey. These are:
The Shadow Archetype
The shadow archetype is an archetype composed of all of the traits you suppress, deny, and/or ignore within yourself. Jung observed that integrating these traits is often (if not always) the first stage of the individuation process and arguably the most important. Consciously integrating your shadow allows you to gain control of it instead of the other way around, and I’ve personally experienced this.
The anima is the feminine component of the male and the animus is the masculine component of the female. The man projects his anima onto the females of his life and the woman projects her animus onto the males of her life, and integrating this part of yourself is another step towards becoming psychically whole.
Then there’s the self. The self is described as the wholeness of your psyche, which is distinguished from the ego (the ego is a part of the totality of the psyche). It’s often represented by the wise old man and woman, although personally I experience it as source.
These three landmarks (mindmarks?) are common to experience in one form or another, although most (if not all) of the individuation process happens differently for you than for everybody else. This process also seems to bring different people to different “endstates,” and I describe an endstate as a state of mind that’s at or near the end of the individuation process, and it is a state in which one can be considered to be enlightened.
Why It’s So Important
The most notable change I experienced throughout this process was how much true bliss I began to feel. Before I started I was quite the anxious mess, and 3 years later the experience is quite different in a good way! When people talk about enlightenment I don’t know if they understand what they’re talking about – yes, part of it is sunshine and rainbows, but another part of it is coming to terms with the darker, ignored, more sinister parts of life; even the buddha saw the streets beyond his father’s castle before he reached his enlightenment! Perhaps this isn’t always the case, but I suspect that facing and integrating the less desirable aspects of your personality will provide you with much meaning, positive control, and bliss.
Another reason why it’s important is that it shows you what’s beyond the herd mind (or the acquired mind as Jung would say). Staying within the herd mind for too long will probably result in a less-than-desirable life, whereas the individuation process brings you into a state of wholeness. Or, in other words, being relatively unconscious of yourself will probably breed suffering and being relatively conscious of yourself will probably breed success and happiness!
And of course, you get to explore your inner world while you do it. Your inner world is something amazing, something that’s meaningful in and of itself, and the more you go into it with the intent of becoming psychically whole the better you’ll feel, and the better life will be!
My Personal Experience
I grew up with a narcissistic father and a very submissive/manipulative mother as my two parents. I was the oldest child which didn’t help much, growing up was really tough – my mind was warped, my self-esteem didn’t exist, I had to walk on eggshells all of the time, they didn’t truly care about me or my opinions, I was forced to homeschool and miss out on crucial socialization, it was religion or hit the road – the list goes on and on. I finally moved out of their house and began to heal from the deep, deep depression I was suffering from, and a large part of that was my journey through the integration process over a period of 3 years!
It was pretty grueling, especially at first – I faced my dark thoughts and feelings, disidentified from them, reintegrated them, and “matured” them into something useful and regenerative. I faced my insecurities, my shame, my fears and angers… And after a while it started to become fun! Nowadays I enjoy facing the dark/undesirable parts of my being because the individuation process works so well for me.
I want to share what worked for me in my time of darkness – it was, specifically, the choice to heal and become everything I wanted to become. Everything else came after that, and I can genuinely say that I’m healed and integrated largely because of the individuation process itself 🙂
Tips and Tricks
There are, however, some things I wish I knew before I started!
-It’s best to cultivate an open mind, even if you already have one. This can be done by saying/thinking, “I choose to open my mind” “I choose to open my 3rd eye.” Often this will be a consistent choice made overtime as opposed to a one-and-done deal.
-It can be hard when you’re facing your shadow for the first time. I didn’t know how hard it could actually be until I attempted it! Sometimes I felt a fear so intense I wondered if it would be the death of me, and I feel as if you may go through the same experience as well. If you become very afraid while you’re facing your shadow and/or the dark parts of your psyche I recommend disidentifying from the fear itself so that you can see it (the shadow aspect) for what it really is. If you wish you can address the fear in the same moment.
-Patience. I thought that after you disidentified from a negative belief, disidentified from the need for the negative belief, and replaced it with a positive belief the negative mood would simply vanish into thin air. But that’s not necessarily the case! Perhaps you dealt with that one problem correctly but there can be 20 other beliefs that contribute to the crummy mood/bad choices/destructive habits, etc. Please be patient with yourself while you do this, it may take a while to fully emerge on the other side.
-It’s so wonderful on the other side! When every part of you is discovered, disidentified from, and integrated there is a kind of peace and control that makes all of the effort genuinely worth it! And you can begin feeling this way even if you’re halfway through, granted it won’t be as intense or meaningful, but you’re rewarded along the way as well as at the end!
-Also, if you don’t know where to start, let your imagination run wild, ask yourself questions about yourself, and feel/see everything in your inner world with no judgement!
While the individuation process isn’t very well known it’s very effective for bringing about subjective well-being. My question to you is, are you going to choose to be well/keep being well? 🙂
Thank you for reading my article! This one’s important so I really appreciate your attention, I’ll see you next time!
I wrote this post with some help from: