Celebrated depth psychologist, Dr. Carl Jung, regarded the task of becoming who we deeply are, in our innermost core, the Privilege of a Lifetime. This “privilege” is buried in us all, begging to be realized. It’s the ultimate creative act. And it’s what depth psychology and depth therapy are really all about.
Most of us don’t understand this idea. Here’s why:
Because we don’t realize it’s an issue. We might even doubt that it has any meaning for us. After all, don’t we wake up to “who we truly are” every morning. Who else would we be? But our identity is not mistaken because we’ve got our name wrong or because our parents came home with the wrong baby. The problem is this: Who we think we are keeps us separated from who we truly are.
Consider this: As young children, we developed a potent image of ourselves, a “self-image” based on our family and culture’s views of who we were. Put simply, we came to see ourselves as others saw us. And so, in essence, our self-image was crafted from borrowed and downloaded ideas from the vast number of subtle and not so subtle interpersonal appraisals we experienced in our family, schools and society. We had no idea about, or protection from, an insidious problem: The people who made these judgements about who we were too often couldn’t see straight. They didn’t see us accurately. In part because they were not accurately seen themselves. And because they have little or no connection to the importance of “the privilege of a lifetime.”
We live amidst a collective self-image trance
The point is that we are in a hypnotic trance that leaves us stuck in shallow level of mind and a “surface identity” too small for who we truly are. But we don’t realize our situation, in part, because living at the surface is now a common way of life. The poverty of life today reinforces the conditioned self-image dilemma daily. As does the rat race and the media’s never-ending river of toxic images created from a combination of lies, horror and nonsense.
Why our self-image is so powerful
Because we lacked the mind power to correct, neutralize and protect ourselves from other people’s errors in judgment about who we were, we wound up with a view of ourselves cut off from our unique essence, from our very soul. In fact, as children we lacked the mind power to protect ourselves from the mistaken views of others. Although our self-image is a surface affair, a conditioned identity, it’s incredibly powerful nevertheless. It becomes our “I” or “me” and we mistakenly experience it as who we are.
Our self-image is so powerful that whether or not it’s accurate—we always think, feel and act in accord with it. This fact has caused at least as much suffering and as much wasted life as war.
Depth psychology (and depth therapy) can turn the lights on and open our eyes. So we can see what’s going on. And then discover and live from who we truly are.
© Dr. Jim Manganiello