To better understand the soul, we'll begin by looking at the psyche.
In the previous two article's (The Mind Connection and The Body Connection) we've shared theories used by health practitioners to help us better understand the tools available to us. This article's focus is slightly different.
Psyche was the name given to the ancient Greek goddess of the soul. The term refers to the invisible animating entity that occupies and expresses in the physical body. In Latin, the translation for the soul is Anima. The ancient Romans, who also commonly referred to the goddess Psyche, viewed the anima as the spirit or the mind of humans.
Put simply, the Romans considered soul and mind to be the same thing. Today, we understand their connection better.
We must not confuse thought with mind because we can think and form opinions without specific intention or direction of the mind.
Carl Jung's Model of the Psyche
Through personal experiences and dreams as well as the analysis of hundreds of patients, Swiss psychologist and psychiatrist Carl Jung continued to interact with his own inner self. He felt this practice provided insight and empathy. Jung placed himself on the same level as his patients. He saw himself not as an authority but as a friend working toward a common goal.
Through our own relationships and internal battles in trying to understand our thoughts and emotions, we clearly see that humans are complex. In his attempt to understand our complexities, Jung was able to provide clarity to what the psyche is and how to integrate the different parts to become whole and healthy.
Let's explore the systems of the psyche and how to access its deepest part, which Jung calls the self.
The persona is an essential aspect of the human psyche. It's the character(s) in which you show up and present yourself to others. You may play one role with a particular friend and a different role if someone else arrives on the scene.
Your personality is expressed through the persona and may be directed or take on scenes autonomously from programming and help from the subconscious mind.
According to Jung, the shadow is the unknown dark side of the personality. It's part of the individual unconscious and may express itself in disapproving ways in times of stress or if you're experiencing specific moods and emotions. The more we repress it, the more powerful, destructive, and indulgent it becomes.
Although the term was made most famous by Jungian psychology, it has been used as an analogy in other fields such as politics. There, it describes an individual who attempts to hide their true beliefs for the sake of preserving their career or family life.
Not only do we repress what we perceive as bad in the shadow (e.g., the destructive element in a person). But we also may repress parts of ourselves that are magnificent. We might cover hidden talents and qualities of ourselves for fear of being judged. Some people avoid sharing their real self, in order to not outshine others, to stay in character with the role they've been playing. In other cases, the ego is directing a scene to confirm our biases.
Carl Jung stated in his essay The Undiscovered Self: "Everything which is properly conscious, and which has its roots in a conscious ego, consists of opposites: life and death, truth and falsehood, love and hate." When we repress any aspect of ourselves (i.e., when we don't let it grow as part of our personality), we create a vacuum in which the shadow can take over.
The shadow can be found in the judgements we make when observing others. When we are critical of someone else's behavior or beliefs, it could be because we see similarities that we've repressed or have refused to acknowledge as our own personality traits.
The self is neither a substance nor an entity but "a process."
Instead of thinking of yourself as something fixed, tangible, or permanent, think of it like a stream that is constantly flowing and changing. This meaning is important because it allows you to change yourself and adjust while still respecting the uniqueness of every individual.
Since the self is a process, you are constantly changing and adapting yourself to life's circumstances. This is not something that you can control. It just happens. Sometimes it happens so subtly that you hardly notice it. At other times, the shift is dramatic and almost everyone notices it. Either way, it's always happening.
You can affect the self by bringing that which is unconscious to your consciousness. Consider a situation in which you feel that you are not yourself. For example, you may feel angry and yell at someone but afterwards you feel bad about it because you realize that it is not your nature to be angry or to yell. After this realization, you can bring the anger out of the unconscious and deal with it consciously. This is how you start to change yourself.
Three Steps to Self-Realization
Once someone has conquered the persona and integrated the shadow, they may still feel that something is missing in their life. Jung believed that this vacuum was a longing for wholeness, and the self is the key to unlocking it.
- To achieve a state of wholeness or self-realization, Jung proposed that an individual must first be aware of how their personality and behaviors are affecting others emotionally.
- Second, he said, they must acknowledge their own emotions and how they are affected by others'.
- Finally, he said they need to find a way to reconcile these two things.
The Self embraces ego-consciousness, shadow, anima, and collective unconscious in indeterminable extension.
― Carl Jung, Mysterium Coniunctionis, page 108
In the image of Jung's Model of the Psyche, we can see that the self is located at the center because it is the sum of the other processes. It is a collective of the shadow, persona, ego, and anima/animus.
The self then is the sum of everything we are now, and everything we once were, as well as everything we could potentially become; it is the symbol of the 'God within us', that which we are as a totality.
― Carl Jung
The natural flow can lead one to what Jung calls 'Individuation'. Individuation is our ability to define ourselves as unique individuals, as unique personalities. It's our ability to stand apart from the collective and be seen for what we are in our own right. It's the realization of who we are without being defined by others.
The self does not have beginnings and ends, but it is a journey that changes constantly.
― Carl Jung
In Jung's model, the self represents a process that is continually changing within an individual allowing for greater growth during the course of one's lifetime.
Animus - Anima
According to Jung, the anima/animus is a personification of the unconscious masculine/feminine aspects in our mind. Every man contains an anima supplying a minority of female qualities, and every woman an animus with minority male qualities.
The anima and animus have a powerful influence on our behaviors and attitudes. They are the ghosts in your machine, the asymmetrical influences that shape you into who you are, for better or worse. They could be the voice whispering in your ear when it inflicts self-doubt. Or they could be the higher power telling you to take charge of your destiny.
The anima or animus manifests in our dreams, fantasies, and relationships with others. It can frequently cause conflict. The trick is not to try to control these impulses as they are part of our nature and cannot be suppressed, but instead to understand them.
The Function of the Anima/Animus
For a man, the anima represents his feminine side. Most men are taught that being masculine is largely defined by being in control, strong, rational, and unemotional. Yet his anima and the unconscious know a different reality and are always trying to get him to see it. If he ignores his anima too long, she (the anima) will do everything in her power to attract his attention because her purpose is to reconcile the conscious and unconscious minds.
For a woman, the animus represents her masculine side. This side intuitively guides women to be rational, logical, and cool while also being passive, strong, and passionate. By nature, women have a strong sense of intuition and connection with the earth. The male's anima can provide this to a man if he permits it.
The anima/animus is the soul of our mind, the inner essence of who we are. Once you accept this, the fact that your inner soul is female or male becomes obvious, Then you can work to integrate your anima/animus into your rational mind and personality.
Anima/Animus in Relationships
Our relational dynamic with people who have an anima/animus conflict is all over the map. As with all aspects of these types of relationships, there is a pattern that emerges as we chart the dynamics between these personalities.
In a male/female relationship, one or both partners can look like a clone of their anima or animus. That is how people with this dynamic project their anima/animus onto others.
The relationship between these individuals can be seen as a microcosm of the collective consciousness. Each person is an individual, but they are both defined by their gender. They will project those gender aspects onto each other in different ways based on their conscious attitudes towards that aspect.
Journey Of The Soul
This is the journey of the soul as it is transformed and integrated into the conscious mind. Our goal is to achieve greater self-awareness and inner peace. We are only one part of the world, but we are all interconnected. The way we connect is through our consciousness.
If you find yourself in a relationship with an anima or animus, understand that there is a process occurring deep within your mind. Over time, you will learn to create space for that process to occur within you. Otherwise, you are in for a lifetime of never ending conflict with your soul.
There is a lot more to cover when it comes to the mind, body, soul connection. In fact, it's a continual journey. The exciting part is that as we continue to grow in consciousness and tap into realms unseen, the vibrational frequencies shift to change the world as we change ourselves.
The soul is much more than our understanding of the psyche, but our understanding of how the psyche works helps us be more receptive to the soul.
In ancient cultures in the Americas, Persia, and Egypt, they spoke of soul loss which can occur from traumatic experiences. Equipped with the knowledge of the psyche and the assisted by dreams, we can receive answers that may seem irrational
Connecting with the soul is a journey and a process that takes time and personal effort. We encourage you to bring more awareness and light into your life every day.
Stay tuned for more information and activities to help you on your journey.