The privilege of a lifetime
is to become who you truly are
- Carl Jung
Carl Jung's wisdom in this quote is almost deceptively simple. And maybe the key word is PRIVILEGE! There is no guarantee that you will become who you truly are. It often takes infinite amounts of courage to face who you are and who you aren't, to let go of all the ways you have been acting or living that are not true to yourself or no longer serve you. Usually it takes a lifetime to really figure that out; it is the process of living.
Jung distinguished between the self and the Self. The self ( small s) is the personality, the self that develops in response to family, life and circumstances including defenses and often including fear, worry, self doubt, arrogance, shame, guilt, etc. It also includes qualities like self-confidence, ambition, preferences, beliefs and ideas.
The Self ( big S) is the true Self at the center of your being. It may be thought of as the Soul or the core of who you are. It is the part of you that is connected to something bigger than your personality.
The task of early adulthood is to build a self focused on building a satisfying life which may include career, family and community. In mid to later life, focus may go more inward and the external accomplishments and ways of knowing yourself may no longer be enough. It is time to begin or deepen your inquiry into who you truly are.
Where do you find yourself in this process? Do you have some ideas about who you truly are? Is there confusion? How do you distinguish your self from your Self? How do you know what is the bedrock of who you are as opposed to parts of yourself that are expendable or that developed to protect yourself from harm?
Peggy Handler, MFT, is a psychotherapist in San Francisco's Noe Valley