A Cure for the Midlife Crisis

The Midlife Crisis

How to recognize a midlife crisis?

  1. You have the desire to start over.
  2. Your marriage is stale.
  3. Your career is less than adequate.
  4. Your life seems rudderless.
  5. You feel more impulsive than ever.
  6. You just bought a brand new red convertible.

The midlife crisis has less to do with the passage of time than it has to do with psychological experience. That is, the ego achievements of the first half of life have been accomplished: you have a wife/husband, children, pets, home, career, car, Ipad, etc. But what you don’t have is skuteczne metody powiększania penisa happiness. It is at this specific moment in your life that you begin to wonder about your legacy – peniksen pituudet what impact will you have on the world?

The midlife crisis is a wakeup call sent from your alienated soul. The first half of life is the domain of ego. Childhood patterns developed to protect the ego unconsciously run your life. Up until now you have been living what I would call a societal egoic life. The rules and roles that run your life, unconsciously, are not your own. To say to someone — you are a chip off the old block — is very true. Until you consciously choose the values, roles, and rules you will live by, you are simply a chip off the old societal block. Who you think you are is what Jung called the persona, the mask you show the world. Midlife is the time to emerge as a unique individual soul.

It could be said that acting out the midlife crisis — having the affair, changing careers, buying the red convertible — is a defense against the reality of death. Said differently, the existential task of midlife is to make sense of your life before you die. This means a transfer of power from the unconscious ego, to the conscious soul. Death is a reality that is easy to deny in the first part of life, but cannot be denied in the second part of life, although there are huge industries — plastic surgery for one — built around helping you continue to deny death. That aside, death creeps in with every wrinkle, every gray hair, the flabby belly, the hormonal changes, and aging children.

So what is the cure for the midlife crisis?

SOUL CONSCIOUSNESS!

The consciousness I am referring to is a state of being. It is not your identity (social persona); it is not your ego-consciousness; it is not your shadow (the part of your self you deny and repress). It is your ever-present self-awareness. Ego is focused on objects, obsessed with the past and the future, and leary of the present moment. Soul, on the other hand, is eternally present, alive and moving towards wholeness — its evolutionary purpose. Ego speaks in language; Soul speaks in symbols. Ego’s purpose is to protect the self from harm, and propagate the species. Soul’s purpose is to create, to love and move towards wholeness.

Jung outlined several steps in the project of one’s peniksen verenkierron lisääminen soul journey, a process he named individuation. They are:

  1. Encounter with the Shadow
  2. Encounter with your Soul-Image
  3. Encounter with your God-Image
  4. Emergence of the Self

I will talk more about these stages of individuation in another post. For now here is James Hollis, the author of The Middle Passage, identifying the end of the midlife crisis:

We know we have survived the midlife crisis when we no longer cling to who we were, no longer seek fame or fortune or the appearance of youth. The sense of life as a slow taking away, the inexorable exeperience of irreplaceable loss, is transformed by relinguishing the old ego attachments and affirming one’s deepening descent into the mystery. (Hollis, 1993, p. 113)

Ego and Soul, Jung and Wilber, side-by-side

Figure 1

I’ve been meditating on Ken Wilber’s four quadrants and Jung’s model of psyche for years unable to reconcile the two, that is, until this morning when it occurred to me that I needed to separate Jung’s model of psyche into the inside and outside perspective of the upper left quadrant, the subjective quadrant (See Figure 1). The inside of the subjective accords with Jung’s idea of the soul, timeless and present. The outside of the subjective accords with the ego, embodied in time and space.

The core of the problem in reconciling the two models is that Jung’s model is topographical, a representation of the landscape of psyche at any point in time. Whereas, Wilber’s model is progressive, a representation of psyche in stages of development. The majority of Jung’s work dealt with bringing the ego into relationship with the self, or soul. So it makes good sense to break his model into two parts, one relating to the ego and the other relating to the soul or self.

Figure 2

Typically Jung’s model of the psyche is shown stacked with the lowest level being the collective unconscious and the highest level being consciousness. However, when I break Jung’s model into two parts it not only accords with Wilber’s work it begins to align with the bilobed brain (See Figure 2). The left hemisphere of the brain relates more to ego and the right hemisphere relates more to the soul.

In making this adjustment we see Jung’s concepts of persona and shadow as creations of a developing ego. Both of which are components of Jung’s personal unconscious. On the right side we see Jung’s concepts of Self and Anima/Animus as components of the collective unconscious in relations to the soul.

Why is it important to make these distinctions? Besides integrating Wilber’s great body of work with Jung’s, there is value in understanding the developmental stages of Jung’s concepts. What I mean to say is there are aspects of persona and shadow that relate directly to ego at specific stages of development. The persona we showed in 2nd grade is not the same persona we show as an adult. This applies to the shadow as well. In fact, all three concepts — ego, persona and shadow — relate to material world. Whereas, the three components of the collective unconscious — soul, Anima/Animus, and Self — relate to the spiritual world. The spiritual world is eternal in space where soul ascends states of consciousness to the highest step, the nondual. On the other hand, ego , trapped in the material world, is left to evolve in time through various levels of development.

Making these connections between the two models of psyche helps to reconcile Wilber’s idea of enlightenment and Jung’s idea of individuation. For Wilber enlightenment occurs for those who have mastered the highest level of development at this time and mastered the highest state of consciousness, the nondual. For Jung individuation occurs when one has mastered the personal unconscious and has ascended through the layers of the collective unconscious to the Self. There is an important distinction between the two. For Wilber enlightenment is I AM GOD. For Jung individuation is I AM IN RELATIONSHIP TO GOD. This is where Wilber’s idea of the 1st person and 2nd person perspective of God helps situate the two. Behind both the material world collapses.