The Scenic Route To Self Discovery…

The Scenic Route To Self Discovery

The scenic route to self-discovery is meant to represent a path that doesn’t attempt to rush the process, too quickly assume success, or, skip meaningful transitions and evolutions. Contrary to the connotation of the word ‘scenic’, in this appropriated colloquialism, the scenic route to self-discovery is not always pretty nor does it always have great views — to say the very least.

True spiritual development of course gets messy; in part, because for every development there tends to be a prerequisite, or otherwise timed, destruction.

Sometimes one must uninstall a computer program infected with malware, to cop another, more modern, analogy, in order to move forward into a better state. Another possibility is that part of one’s ego or quasi-calcified consciousness must be broken down or fragmented in order to be restructured or rebuilt in a more integrated manner.

The latter idea is supported and validated by the musings and writings of renowned psychiatrist and veritable mystic, Dr. Carl Jung. Jung was originally the prodigy of the iconic Sigmund Freud. Eventually, while still considered an iconic figure in the establishment of academia, Jung famously broke away with Freudian theory.

Soon enough, Jung became renowned for his own overarching theoretical paradigm, which is usually referred to as ‘transpersonal psychology’.

The word transpersonal signifies a collective consciousness — a construct he also theorized much on. It denotes a psychology which defines aspects of each individual as unique, but also incorporates parts of the psyche which are intractably connected to others. (One can think of transnational corporations which are privately held in a given country, even though this may seem an all too unfavorable comparison).

Again though, Jung is very controversial in the academic establishment; and yet, budding psychologists are introduced to his theories which cross a broad spectrum of analyses — from dreams to symbols, to art, to political analysis, and of course, self-development.

While discussions on Jung generally center on his concepts of archetypes, and the anima and animus cosmically assigned to each person, the concepts of the unconscious, subconscious, and conscious are among his less discussed constructs, and fall under separate (but ultimately connected in the integrated self) psychic territories.

The ‘shadow’ is also related, but ultimately a separate manifestation of the unified psyche from the unconscious — but again, nothing exists in a total vacuum, especially in the matrix of self-actualization.

When it comes to self-discovery, in the heavyweight category (which is the choir Jung preaches to) there must be some serious reconciliation with the unconscious — please mind that this is different from ‘the shadow’, once again.

To wrestle with the unconscious is both a privilege and a punishment, and according to Jung, a very rare opportunity for anyone.

Jung is very specific that it must involve some incapacitating neurosis, which can be quite disruptive to a defined lifestyle of any sort.

There is no telling how the ego (another separate concept) or the conscious mind (again, separate but connected) will be affected or altered by such an introduction or interaction.

The unconscious mind is considered by Jung to be completely individualistic, but also completely hidden from the owner, even if it is very obvious to others, Jung adds.

This may be a pretty intimidating thought, in and of itself.

One must indeed crank their humility up to epic levels in order to survive the ‘trip’ to self-discovery as it involves the unconscious. This cannot be overstated.

There will be things one faces which one will deeply scoff at the idea of needing to. There will be deep wounds which you may not realize you had repressed but truly believed you had healed from; this part can be very painful… And, there will be people and situations sent to trigger; and, it can feel very conspirative and/or numinous. This is of course an illusion in the context of the conscious mind, but the underlying experience is very, very, real, and very numinous indeed. One will be rendered somewhat helpless by the process of connecting with the unconscious; and, this may be exactly the point.

The reason it is not immediately ’empowering’ is because in interacting with the unconscious, one is taught how one has very, very little, probably even no control over it. Yet, it has staunch control over everyone. This is beyond humbling; and, the process usually serves up a significant side of humiliation, regardless of how much one believes they do or do not deserve it.

It is only with rigorous effort and focus that a conscious mind may start influencing its counterpart of the unconscious. It is not a wholly natural occurrence; and, it is also mystifyingly unclear in terms of how such influence may be sought or earned. Do not despair on chances or ostensible missed opportunities, though…

The unconscious, like the shadow, can be horrifying. Yet, Jung posits all people are preordained with certain patterns at birth and does not disdain the tenets of astrology in this context nor others. Recognizing this observation of Jung’s may be helpful in realizing how the unconscious is not entirely ‘personal’, which might also be representative as a core tenet of transpersonal psychology.

One major point is clear, integration or even an interaction with one’s unconscious is not something to generally be rushed into (if that is even possible).

Consider reading some of Jung’s related work to prepare for its potential imminence, though. A good initial deep dive might be, ‘Pscyhe & Symbol’ by Carl Jung; however, another of his many published and translated texts called ‘The Undiscovered Self’ might be a bit more digestible for some — as well as lighter reading.

P.S. Jung was also definitively obsessed with mandalas (hence the thumbnail applied here) but that will have to be a discussion for another day.


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Dr. Courtney Parker


Dr. Parker holds a PhD in Health Promotion and Behavior from the University of Georgia, where she previously earned a…

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