The dark night of the soul is a transformative experience that occurs when we face a loss of meaning and are forced to confront our own shadow. In this episode, we explore why the dark night of the soul is important and Jung’s experience with this phenomenon. We discuss:
- Jung’s dark night of the soul experience
- What to do when you have a dark night of the soul
- The difference between depression and a dark night of the soul
- How the dark night of the soul is a psychological purification
This content is for educational purposes only and not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any physical, mental or emotional issue, disease or condition. If you are experiencing a mental health issue, please contact a professional.
Debra Maldonado 00:28
Hello, everyone. Welcome back to Soul Sessions with CreativeMind. I’m Debra Berndt Maldonado, here with Dr. Rob Maldonado. We’re excited to share this next episode with you, continuing our series on the great mind of Carl Jung and what he contributed to psychology. This is one of the biggest concepts that he’s contributed, which is the dark night of the soul. Getting a lot of requests for this topic. Sit back, open your mind and heart to hearing about the dark night. But before we begin, I do want to mention, don’t forget to subscribe to our channel and make sure you’re getting notifications of every episode. We’d love to hear from you. So the dark night — not the Batman movie — but a widely known, but often misunderstood aspect of Jung’s work, we’re going to lay it out for you today.
Robert Maldonado 01:22
What it is, what it’s not.
Debra Maldonado 01:24
And why you should do it. Why you should accept it and welcome it.
Robert Maldonado 01:28
The gift of the dark night of the soul. Let’s start with Jung himself, because he underwent a dark night of the soul. That’s where the good stuff comes from. If we talk about active imagination, understanding the unconscious, integrating the shadow, the individuation process, it all came through his dark night of the soul. In 1913, Jung, who was really heir to Freud’s work and was set to take over as the crown prince for Freud, they have a breakup, they dissolve their friendship and collaboration. In essence, Jung finds himself out of the club, drifting, no career goal or path anymore. He had invested a lot in his relationship with Freud and was said to become the heir of the psychoanalytic movement, which was big at that time. It was the cutting edge of psychology, psychopathology, all these incredible movements that were going on at that time.
Debra Maldonado 02:54
He was kicked out of the club and feeling a little disoriented. Now he had no mentor, he had to cultivate his own path, which a lot of us can relate to where we feel thrown off our path. We have to look within to see where to go next.
Robert Maldonado 03:15
Looking within, introspection was the key for him, he was forced to look within himself and consider “Do I really believe what I’m talking about?” Because he had been writing about the unconscious and exploring deeper psychological elements of psyche. Can I walk the walk? In our lives, it comes down to that. It’s easy to expound a philosophy, a theory, a belief. But if you don’t live it, you’re fooling yourself.
Debra Maldonado 03:56
He always said it’s the theories, but you really have to know it directly. He went through what he called the night sea journey. He coined that term, which is a metaphor for what we do when we go through the dark night. So the dark night is a time, a pivot or time in our life.
Robert Maldonado 04:18
It’s a time of disorientation but a necessary disorientation, a disillusion with our persona. It’s a breakup of our own internal process of over-identifying with persona as ego and asking the deeper question “If I am not this persona, if I’m not just my profession…”
Debra Maldonado 04:48
Or my part as a wife or a husband in a partnership, or a parent. We identify as these roles as a son or daughter of someone. A lot of children who were born having someone famous, or someone who had a lot of influence or success, they’re like “I’m not that person.” I’ve always been identified as Joe’s rich son or the heir apparent, but it’s not really who you are. Then you’re like “The path that was laid out for me in the beginning of life isn’t where I want to continue.” We all get to that point where it feels as though a crisis happens in our life to have us examine what we want to do for the rest of our life, re-examine our life, our relationships, our work, our spiritual beliefs, and throws us through a little loop.
Robert Maldonado 05:42
I’d say that it doesn’t feel like a crisis, it is a crisis, it has to be. You can’t stay in your comfort zone and do the dark night of the soul or shadow work.
Debra Maldonado 05:55
So-called bad things, bad events that happened, or things that show up, whether you’re a business owner and have a crisis that happens in your business, where there’s some kind of financial thing happening or a team thing, or it could be a career where you get laid off, or a relationship that doesn’t work out, or someone who passes away that you’re like “I don’t know who I am without that person.” We start to feel this chaotic upheaval in our life. Many people think it’s a bad thing that happened. This is a terrible thing, this terrible event that happened in my life. But it’s actually an opportunity to shake things up, so you can reorganize and reset.
Robert Maldonado 06:43
But you’re giving the punchline away. Let’s go back to what happened to Jung. He starts to go inward. He starts to have these very intense visions to where he started to question his own sanity. This is real. This is not a light weekend retreat where you go through something like that. This was years for him, years of wrestling with that inner demon of the shadow and coming to terms with his destiny. He has this vision of Europe, drowning in blood, a terrible vision. He describes it very vividly in his writings. This was right before World War One, which was prophetic of what was coming. During this period, he develops a process of active imagination, trusting that, taking the internal version of the psyche, what was what the psyche was throwing up through dreams, through visions, taking that as real, not as just metaphor, or as fantasy, but as a deeper layer of the ultimate reality of human nature. That changed the game for him, that process of paying attention to your inner world.
Debra Maldonado 08:25
It’s not just an accident, a random dream that seems like a nightmare. That’s seeing meaning in all of it.
Robert Maldonado 08:35
Taking it seriously, as “this is the central work of my life”. Instead of projecting it outward and saying “My destiny is to become Freud’s heir and student and carry on his work”, it throws it back on you and says “What are you here to do? What is your mission? What are you passionate about?” He starts to write The Red Book, which is only published in 2009 at his request, but he dedicates time and effort to writing The Red Book, his vision and his experiences of that inner world, the idea of spirit guides, that’s where it comes from. He started to perceive within his psyche the spiritual guides that were teaching him and guiding him on his path, that the process of individuation.
Debra Maldonado 09:36
But they were part of him, it wasn’t an external guide. It was his inner guide, the collective unconscious, it’s all part of the same.
Robert Maldonado 09:48
It depends on how you identify him. It’s key because if we identify him as Carl Jung, the psychologist working with Freud, that’s not who he was. That’s the realization he was coming to, that’s not who I am, that’s a role I’m playing, a persona. These elements of the psyche are autonomous, he says. He wasn’t creating them in a conscious way, he wasn’t imagining them or doing guided visualization.
Debra Maldonado 10:25
He was allowing them to come and talk to him, interact.
Robert Maldonado 10:30
They’re independent of the conscious experience we’re having. We’re out here in the world, going through our relationships, our work, and Jung continued, of course, to work and to be in the world. But he was going home and paying attention to the inner world that was going on. He was writing it down, it became the shadow work in the individuation process, all the major concepts we know now as Jungian psychology, analytical psychology came from that period. He came out of it. It’s not a permanent condition. You’re not meant to stay in the shadow work and the dark night of the soul forever. But you have to stay long enough to do your work.
Debra Maldonado 11:22
If you don’t face it, your life is vanilla, it’s bland, it’s uninspiring, it’s black and white, it’s survival. If you’re willing to face yourself and discover who you really are, then your life becomes rich and profound, it has deep meaning because we’re here not just to exist, we’re here to create something with ourselves, for this life.
Robert Maldonado 12:46
He called this episode in his life the night sea journey, which I love. We were recently by the beach at night, watching the thunderstorm brewing up in the sky, mysterious darkness of the ocean when you look out at the horizon at night. That is a great metaphor for this journey we undertake. What is the ocean? What is that water? It’s the collective unconscious, the unknown, the mystery of our being. If we don’t dare to go into it and ask the question “What am I here to do? Who am I?”, we’re missing out on the main purpose of life. We’re staying on the surface, on the land, saying “I’m not going to do this, I can’t do this.”
Debra Maldonado 13:37
You stop looking outward for that security, that fulfillment, it stops being fulfilling for you. You can have great success but it feels as though this isn’t it. I know there’s more in me, I know I was meant for more. We turn inward. The ego resists this because it wants you to prop externally, there is resistance. When we think of the dark night, it’s not all dark and negative. It’s actually just unseen. It’s like going into a dark cave. I always use this metaphor, imagine going through a cave. You don’t know but there’s a pot of gold in there, treasure hard to find, as Joseph Campbell would say. It’s inside but you have to go and face your fear of going into this dark unknown cave, but you know there’s treasure there. Most people, if you show them a cave and say “You’re gonna have to walk a mile in the dark, but there’s treasure at the end”, I’d say most people would be like “I’ll find the treasure somewhere else. I don’t want to go into that dark cave. There can be scary things, there can be dragons and snakes and creepy crawlies.” We have to face what’s going on inside that we didn’t want to face before, that the ego has pushed away. That’s what the shadow is. It has a dark sense but it’s more like things that don’t have light. A shadow is where the light doesn’t go, there’s no penetration of light. That’s why there’s a shadow, the shadow is just behind the light. If we can bring light to the shadow, it’s no longer dark, it’s bright, we can see things clearly. We have to see those parts of ourselves that have remained unconscious.
Robert Maldonado 15:23
Jung says the reason we avoid the shadow like the plague and will do anything — he says people will do the most ridiculous things in order to avoid the confrontation with our own shadow — the reason we do that, and we all do it, this is not just some of us, we all do it, we try to avoid the shadow. He says the reason we avoid it is because it threatens everything we’ve created as persona. Everything we’ve invested, everything we’ve dedicated the first part of our life to creating this personality, this persona, this identity of “This is who I am, this is my work, this is how I’m going to fit into the world”, the shadow threatens everything of that.
Debra Maldonado 16:17
No matter how much we want to change, how many great visions we have, we just put off the things in our life. I want to write a book one day, I want to start my own business one day, I’d love to do something else with my life, I’d love to get my art and work on my art, but no, my business, my job is taking up a lot of my time or my family, there’s no place for you. Eventually, you live your life to keep pushing it away. That’s what the gift is, something will happen that’ll shake you up, like the rug getting pulled from under you. For me, it was the same thing, I kept putting off leaving my corporate job and finding my passion, putting off finding a true partner, I just settled for someone. I ended up breaking my engagement. I ended up that same week getting laid off from my job, then having to leave the place I lived with my fiancee at the time. I called it my homeless, manless, and jobless time. Basically everything that anyone would think was secure, was stripped away from me. A friend of mine had just got out of coaching school, so she’s like “Do you want me to practice on you?” I said “Sure, I need it right now.” I had to examine how I got here, how I almost married the wrong person, why I’m staying in this job that’s not fulfilling for me, why I am so afraid to make a change. It took about two years for me to finally step into what I was supposed to do. But all that time was about going inward and figuring out who I was, what I wanted in life. It was necessary. It happened when I was 36 years old. Jung says that that time is about midlife. The first part of life is building up the ego. But everything I wanted I had to destroy: the persona I created, the corporate girl, the security, all the things I built up, basically let that all go to start over. It’s a scary thing. It feels scary but it’s the best thing. That’s why people resist, because it is the antithesis of safety, security, and comfort.
Robert Maldonado 18:34
For me it was the opposite. We’re often mirrors of each other. For me it was achieving everything I thought would bring me success, happiness and finding that on the contrary, it brings you the opposite. It throws you into a period of chaos, despair, disorientation, a feeling of meaninglessness, because everything external you worked for is given to you. You’ve achieved it and that emptiness is still there.
Debra Maldonado 19:10
There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be happy.
Robert Maldonado 19:14
There’s nothing you can say, “When I get those things, I’ll be happy.” You have them but you’re still empty. That’s the dark night of the soul as well. It’s a period of deconstructing your identity from the inside out.
Debra Maldonado 19:33
Your priorities for your first half of life starts to shift.
Robert Maldonado 19:38
It can be both. It can be the loss of your identity through loss of marriage, a job, or the attainment of those things and still finding yourself feeling lost.
Debra Maldonado 19:53
It’s a pivot point in your life. After I got laid off the first time, I did actually go back to the corporate world again, because it’s so hard to make that full pivot. I was still like, “Why am I here again?” You may have made that pivot a couple of times, then you go back. I think that’s important too. It’s not just one time, it’s a process that you go through, wrestling and maybe being tempted to return, then saying “It’s still not it, I have to keep going.” Your ego doesn’t want to be uncomfortable. The more you push toward change, the more uncomfortable it becomes, the outer change becomes very uncomfortable. And then sometimes you don’t even know what you should do. You feel like “If I don’t know, I’ll just go back” versus keep moving through, then asking yourself what you want versus asking other people’s advice, getting a career coach, or someone, your parents to tell you, or friends give you advice and tell you what you should do, or your peers. You have to find the answer within yourself.
Robert Maldonado 20:56
That begs the question: What do we do when this happens? The ordinary person doesn’t have access to deeper psychology. We know there’s very few people that really understand Jung’s work, first of all, and then very few people that have access to people that can help them undergo this process of individuation in a psychological way, in a structured way, so that they can use it for their enlightenment,
Debra Maldonado 21:32
Many people confuse what I call persona swapping, they have this moment, then they’re like, “I’m going to be someone completely opposite. I’m going to push away or reject my childhood, events that happened in the past, I’m going to become this other person, I’m going to push away insecurity and become power, I’m going to push away poverty and become successful.” What you’re really doing is just flipping the coin to the other side. But you’re still operating from ego and still defining yourself by external things. That’s really where people get stuck. “I’ll just believe in myself, I’ll just work with my mindset and think differently, think positive”, but you’re just rearranging the furniture again, you’re not really integrating the other aspects of your personality of why you judge this thing that is so terrible and what you have to face. It’s a process but I don’t think it needs to take years. There’s an evolution that will last the rest of your life, you will always be evolving. But that pivot point doesn’t have to take that long. If you’re willing to have someone help you, guide you through it, someone who’s been through it, not someone who understands the theory, but someone who knows it by going through and wrestling with themselves. It’s highly emotional experience. It’s not an intellectual experience, it’s emotional. It pulls up all the things that scare you, but in an empowering way. Because it’s like facing the dragon, you’re not afraid of it anymore. You’re really getting empowered by going toward these difficult emotions or difficult ideas or concepts of yourself, instead of making them positive. You’re really accepting all of your humanity. Jung’s work is really powerful for our planet and humanity itself. We have to stop putting people in categories of good and bad and start to see humanity as more complex. There’s not us and them. There’s a more complex aspects to our psyche that aren’t just delineated in that hard light and dark phase. There’s gray areas, there’s perceptions, and the way we look at things and the way we look at people, just like looking at this dark night, not thinking of it as this terrible thing that happened to me. For me, it was the best thing that happened to me. At the time, I was terrified but I knew why. I had intuition that this was something I needed to face. You feel it, you’re like “I set this all up for some reason.” I knew I needed to face this because I’ve been ignoring it for too long.
Robert Maldonado 24:04
Jung understood this work he was doing and found the meaning for his work by understanding that societies, cultures had been doing this from the beginning of time. This is a natural process of our human evolution, individually as well. It’s part of our development. We’re not meant to merely survive and fit in socially as persona. We’re meant to transcend ourselves to find something bigger than ourselves where we can transcend our ego, not just living for ourselves in our family, in our career, but really be connected to the collective. This was also his discovery of the collective unconscious. You mentioned something interesting, because we know a lot of thought leaders and people that are there, doing big things with their lives. They’re successful in ways that many people find very difficult to comprehend and to achieve those things. But often we see that what they’re doing is simply trading in one persona for a shiny or bigger persona. There’s the thinking, “When I achieve bigger things, I’ll be good enough, I’ll be satisfied when I make the million, or 10 million, or 20 million, 900 million, then I’ll be enough.” But that’s an error again. In the psychology of transformation, the external can’t satisfy the inward need for transformation.
Debra Maldonado 25:49
Our ego thinks, “If I just had enough money and power, find the right person to love me and have a family, I’d have everything I need.” On the surface it sounds like they have it all, but when you look at it, if that’s what they’re identifying with, if anything external is going to happen. It’s very important, especially for thought leaders, to do the individuation process, to go through it, because they’re responsible for inspiring so many people, millions of people, books they have out, speeches they’re doing. If they’re not doing their own work, it’s like they’re giving people half the equation when it comes to personal growth. I really feel like that would be something of a requirement for people to really be happy being in that role instead of being exhausted or feeling like it’s a lot of work or pressure, or getting exhausted, overworking, exhausted from their goals.
Robert Maldonado 26:54
We see the other side of the coin, people that have great skill and talent, we know they have a purpose and a mission, but they think the external is bad, “If I create success for myself, I’ll be betraying my vision.” Both fall into error, it is about understanding that your inner transformation is coming to terms with the shadow of the dark aspects of the psyche, bringing them to light, integrating them, facing your fears, going through this inner transformation, deconstruction of the old persona, reconstruction of a new center of being is a spiritual work. When you do this, you’ll find your purpose in life, you’ll achieve success. Then the success you create will be in alignment with that higher vision you have for yourself.
Debra Maldonado 28:01
Then business and family become easy. Many times, if you have a big organization, are a thought leader, have a team, they’re going to reflect your mind. You’ll feel like you need to keep firing people, you don’t have the right people, people are letting you down, partners are getting in the way. That’s reflecting your mind. Understand that this is an opportunity to see my mind using these conflicts and challenges in our life, to grow, even as simple as a relationship. Instead of wanting the relationship to be perfect, we love each other all the time, it’s about using conflict and challenges that happen within a relationship to grow, not to have an excuse to leave and move on to the next person. What do we do now? One thing I’d like to bring up is we have a crisis that happens in our life where we feel confusion, we don’t know where we’re at, we’re putting a pause on things. A lot of people confuse it for depression. I’d love for you to distinguish, how to know if you’re clinically depressed, where you need medication and therapy, or if you’re going through the dark night of the soul, and that’s a different prescription.
Robert Maldonado 29:20
It’s difficult because we don’t want to diminish the importance of getting help if you’re clinically depressed, or you’ve been diagnosed with depression. You need therapy, you need maybe medication, or a time in a clinic. It’s important to make sure you’re taking care of yourself or your loved ones that are going through those things. But I’d say the main distinction between clinical depression and the dark night of the soul is that in the dark night of the soul, there’s an existential questioning of your purpose. It is a spiritual quest, you’re being thrown into the arena, this labyrinth of “Can you find meaning in your life? Can you find your way to the center of who you are?”
Debra Maldonado 30:19
You know this isn’t who you are. There’s deeper parts of yourself. Those three questions of “Who am I? What is the world? What is my purpose?” Those three questions you start to ask yourself, like, I don’t even know who I am anymore. People say that “I don’t even know who I am anymore.” Then on the other side of the dark night of the soul and individuation and shadow work, they’re like, “I don’t even recognize my past self anymore. I’ve had this transformation.”
Robert Maldonado 30:49
The dark night of the soul is your calling. It befalls you to experience that if you don’t find your way out of that labyrinth because you don’t have a guide, you don’t have the people around you to support you, a coach or therapist, to help you, after a while you do start to get depressed because you’re not finding meaning in your life. You start to really experience hopelessness, there appears to be no way out of this darkness. That’s a very powerful experience that can drive us into a real depression, our sense of hopelessness, meaninglessness. In clinical psychology we used to talk about lethal levels of meaninglessness. We can reach these levels where we can’t find real meaning in our life. It puts us in danger, those are special circumstances. That’s exactly when you need to set the intention to find people that can help you.
Debra Maldonado 32:05
That’s the hardest thing for many people, to ask for help or even admit, because this world is “Don’t worry, be happy.” Everything’s this Instagram persona, you should be grateful for all the things you have and just be positive. Sometimes people have shame around their dark and sad feelings. There’s so much judgment around it versus saying “We’re getting to a vulnerable place here.” This is where the soil of the soul is starting to get rich with nutrients. It’s starting to say, “There’s something happening, calling me.” If we didn’t have collective unconscious, the soulful self pressing through this autonomous unconscious, we probably would just live on ego level and survive. But there’s this powerful force that wants to be expressed, what is more for us, the possibilities and the potential we have within us, constantly calling us. It’s pushing us toward that. What we’re feeling mostly is resistance, this push and pull. That’s the chaos and disorientation that happens. It’s shaking us off our ground a bit.
Robert Maldonado 33:22
Then there’s a dangerous tendency in our culture to pathologize everything. Everything is trauma, everyone is traumatized. The framing of experience is important. If we see everything through the lens of trauma, that’s the only thing we can see. Because it’s the frame we’re using to understand that experience. But if we open it up and ask, “Is there another way of seeing this? Is there a way of seeing our human suffering in a more creative way where it leads us to transformation, to this deeper understanding of soul and meaning?”, then there’s a possibility that we’ll find it, we’ll see it.
Debra Maldonado 34:17
Sometimes those events are catalysts for us to search. Because there’s nothing really there for people to transcend. It’s spiritual, the soul needs to be reclaimed. I love the idea of that process being like a psychological purification. Could you talk a little bit about what that means?
Robert Maldonado 34:38
Jung was very interested in spiritual traditions from different parts of the world. What he noticed was that they all had one thing in common, they all emphasize purification, this ritualized process of purifying our mind from the ego build up of our karma. We know from really disciplined scientific studies in psychology that we’re all conditioned, whether we know it, like it or not. Life, the environment we grew up in conditions us to see the world in a certain way and to respond to the world in a certain way. Jung saw that a lot of these spiritual traditions were designed to purify the human mind of that early conditioning experiences, so that the individual could really perceive themselves in this new light.
Debra Maldonado 35:48
A lot of times they changed their name, they changed their cloth from a certain stage of life they move in. They have a different costume in these cultures that show from girl to woman, from boy to man. There’s a ritual that happens. We don’t have that in our society anymore.
Robert Maldonado 36:07
Often people try to intuitively produce that line of challenge for themselves. When I was a teenager, I instinctively sought out experiences that would test me, I wanted to be tested, I wanted to see what I was made out of. That’s an instinctual part of it. But imagine having societal structures that can take you through those experiences in a meaningful way. You come out the other end knowing who you are.
Debra Maldonado 36:39
I think in junior high, they should have a pre-individuation ritual, where the counselors can talk to the kids about what group they’re falling into, how they’re led, how they’re defining themselves by, the groups and the associations, either their grades, or their sports acumen, or their creative acumen, or their beauty, or their muscles or whatever, and start to see how they’re constructing that persona, maybe even consciously create it a little more, understand projection, understand what they’re pushing away. Then another phase in their 20s, when they’re looking for the right career, is looking inward versus looking outward and looking what’s going to make them the most money or what their parents want them to do. Then that stage of 35-40-45, where you’re going through rebirth, that would be another phase. Then also getting older. Once we turn 50, we start to feel different, we’re not the young person anymore. We’re now the leaders of society, we’re stepping into roles that are more leadership, we need to be conscious. If the leaders, the elders of the world are unconscious, where are we going? Every stage is an important part of this process.
Robert Maldonado 37:56
That’s another important element in Jung’s work. He’s looking at the bigger picture. If we’re meant to individuate and most people don’t, what kind of world are we creating? We’re creating a world that’s based on ego function, its emphasis is on material survival and social fitting in without the satisfaction of real spiritual transformation and real meaning derived from the insight. People start to orient towards the external and think “When I get more money, when I get more gold, when I get more fame, I’ll be satisfied, I’ll be enlightened or as prosperous as I can be.” He says it’s a very dangerous world because when people are dissatisfied with their inner world, they fall victim to cults, to mass movements, to the mob mentality, the herd mentality he talks about in some of his books. That’s a dangerous world. We’re seeing that playing out in the world right now. These movements towards tribal identification, division within groups, projection of the shadow unto others and saying they’re the bad ones, they’re the ones causing the problem, when it’s an internal process. The dark night of the soul, when we can see it and understand it from this perspective, we see that it’s an essential, necessary part of human culture and awareness that we need to bring back, we need to put it at the center of the human experience and create ways for human beings, especially leaders that can then serve as models for the followers.
Debra Maldonado 40:08
A lot of people talk about corporate greed, CEOs making 500 times more than the employees and not giving back, it’s all about profit. Imagine conscious leaders that are concerned with the corporation as a whole like it’s living, breathing, it’s full of people. Now some companies are bringing in coaches to help with personal development, because it does help the bottomline when happy workers understand themselves. This session today is not just about your own personal journey, but about the journey of ourselves as human beings on this planet and humanity as a whole. We need to look at ourselves and we need to be honest, it’s about raw honesty versus “I just want to look at the good parts, I’m gonna get rid of the bad parts or change the bad parts to be positive.” There’s so many people I see out there talking about shadow being beliefs. It’s not about negative beliefs, it’s about concepts and energies in yourself that are being denied. It’s very deep work that will change your life and the lives of many people. It’s really incredible. Our mission is to get this out more, making it more mainstream than just this fringe Jungian psychology that no one can understand, or only certain people that get it do the work. Imagine everyone in the world being able to transcend their ego and understand projection, understand how they can have the resources within themselves to create a life they truly love and not project that the world is not giving them what they want. They can be empowered to know they have their inner resources. It’s an incredible time in the world. We’re going through a dark night of the soul with climate, with government institutions, religious challenges that we have, there’s a lot of challenges we can face as a collective ego consciousness on the planet and shift it by starting with ourselves. We always say that the best way to deal with a world problem is first deal with ourselves and be clear on ourselves. Then we’ll know how to deal with that world problem. But if we haven’t done our own shadow work, our ego’s going to try to fix the problem and be in that “us versus them” mentality versus “What’s really going on here? How can I really see the truth of what I’m experiencing?”, then being able to help others take that journey as well. The next step would be for you to ask yourself “Where has this happened before? What did you learn from that journey?” Or if you haven’t, look at your life, assess how much of your life is propped up or your identity is based on external things, based on what you achieved, what your marital statuses are, your partnership status, what your body looks like, what your beauty looks like, what kind of house you live in, how you’re defining yourself, your education? Those are all external things.
Robert Maldonado 43:12
It all begins with introspection. Whatever your challenges, whatever is confronting you at this moment, think in terms of “Why did I create this? Why is this showing up for me?” and examine your own role, the role that you played in creating this situation. Not to blame yourself, but to understand that you have the power to change it, whatever situation you’re facing is your own creation, there’s no one else that can create it for you. You’re the one that creates it from the inside out. Now, are there unconscious forces? Of course, the unconscious is essentially the one that’s dominating in the psyche before people do individuation, before they face the dark night of the soul. It’s their unconscious programming, it’s their past conditioning that’s creating their world. As you go through the dark night of the soul, you integrate the shadow, you make the unconscious conscious, as Jung says, you accept it, you integrate it, it becomes part of your knowing of who you really are, then you’re able to change things from the inside out. Your vision and your purpose becomes the way you start to live your life.
Debra Maldonado 44:37
After the shadow work, this new you emerges. We always feel there’s a lot of energy in the chaos. But then that energy starts to form into something else, our true self, it’s like a rebirth that happens. There’s an emergence of power, energy, and clarity afterwards. Jung says you can never go back again. You just feel this sense of being really different. I feel different, I see the world clearer now. That’s where intuition is heightened. That’s when you think positive, have a vision board, imagine your future, that’s when things are on supersonic speed. But before that, your shadow is going to interfere with everything you want to create, the things you’re struggling with, the things you’re chasing. It’s an unconscious motivation, we don’t know what’s motivating us. We got to see what’s motivating us. Is it the ego? Or is this really coming from our soul, from our deepest self? A beautiful process. We’ve been through it. It’s not for the weak at heart, but it’s definitely worth the journey and worth the gifts that come afterward.
Robert Maldonado 45:47
We’re lucky because the process is still around, Jung left us a written map of the psyche and how to do individuation. We have all the tools as human beings to solve all our human problems, everything from climate change to pollution to division in politics, we have the tools. It’s finding the strength and the courage through our own individuation process, our own transcendence of our ego to carry those things out. The only way we’ll do it is if we start with ourselves through this transformation.
Debra Maldonado 46:35
A heavy topic, but also a bright topic. It’s not all dark and dreary, it is a rite of passage in a way to where we really become adults. Jung says that life really begins at 40, until then you’re just doing research. Before the dark night you’re just doing research and having a vague idea of why you’re here. Then after shadow work you’re so clear on who you are and who you want to become and how you want to live and the choices you make become more conscious and affect everyone around you. Thank you again for joining us. Before we go, I do want to remind you to subscribe to our podcast if you’re listening to us on Spotify, iTunes. Make sure you get every episode and hear the other episodes. If this is the first one you’re listening to, you want to hear the other past episodes about Jung’s work, we get into lots of interesting concepts that, if you’re new to his work, might be interesting for you to learn about yourself.
Robert Maldonado 47:33
See you next time.