By Trisha Caldwell
The term ‘individuation’ was first coined by Carl Jung. He described it as an individual’s journey to psychological wholeness or ‘becoming what or who you are destined to become’. Jung saw the whole life cycle as a continuing process of growth and change regulated by the Self. ‘Individuation is an expression of that biological process – simple or complicated as the case may be- by which every living thing becomes what it is destined to become from the very beginning’.
Essentially, individuation is an inner drive, deep within the recesses of our soul, giving us a powerful message that we need to develop and differentiate. It is a significant adult developmental process which occurs throughout adult life and as we allow ourselves to continually individuate we attract change and growth. Jung states that ‘Individuation’, therefore is a process of differentiation, having for its goal the development of the individual personality’.
If we are to fulfil our human potential, we must individuate. Jung asserted that the deepest urge or instinct within every living creature is to fulfil itself and he called this life long process that aims at fulfilment, ‘Individuation’.
In the early part of adulthood, up to the age of approximately 28-35 we have ego independence, a relative lack of self, we are ego driven. It is essentially a ‘biological and social period ‘, where we focus on ‘Personal Identity ‘ i.e. who we are, not, what we are to become.
At this stage we compare ourselves to our peers and relate most effectively in groups. Although we are growing up and individuating, we are going through similar changes and during this phase in most cases we have no desire to stand out from the crowd. However during this first development stage it allows us to become independent from the parent and to lay strong foundations for the future.
Moving through to this next stage during our late thirties, early to late forties, individuation does become more acceptable as we begin to understand it more fully. It still can though be a very disruptive influence, giving rise to an uncertain time. However, as individuation is an adult psychological process, an inner drive from our soul, we are gently nudged, initially, by the universe to move forward. Of course, we can ignore this push, but by doing so only makes us more uncomfortable.
This period, where we go through profound change is deemed cultural and spiritual and our aim is for self-realisation and lack of ego. We focus on our legacy, our achievements and the meaning of life. A sense of urgency takes over.
Most importantly, Individuation has to be worked for. It is not an easy process – it requires courage and dedication. Growth and change does not just happen of its own accord; Jung warns us that making our own ‘journey through the unconscious’- to enlighten our egos – is hard work, a great labour in which the ego must accept full responsibility for all that occurs.
As we individuate, we realise that we as human beings have a great need for purpose and meaning and the recognition of something greater than ourselves. Then individuation becomes a way of life and gives meaning to life. If we are to fulfil our human potential, it is essential that we individuate.
Questionnaire: Where are you on the path of Individuation?
- Do you have an inner lack of fulfilment? Yet on the surface everything appears to be perfect?
- Can you describe this inner lack of fulfilment? – how do you feel?
- Explain what your situation is- how old are you/ what is happening around you? Have you experience significant major changes in the last few years of your life?
- Are you really being authentic in your interests, passions and talents ? If not, why not and what are they? ~Do you remember from childhood what held your attention?
- Are you afraid of seeming disloyal by being more honest? If so, how and to whom ? e.g. peer pressure? work?
- What is missing from your life?
- What exactly is it about this stage of your life that is making you feel uncomfortable?
- What is calling you? What is urging you to forge into the unknown? Have you felt this way before and if so when and how
- What is over for you?
- What are you still passionate about?
- How would you like to be at this moment?
Just Say Yes to Life – Embracing individuation to embrace life
Just Say Yes to Life demystifies the Jungian term individuation and takes us on a compelling and fascinating journey on how to individuate fully: to become what or who you are destined to be!