Have you ever met someone who has undeniably discovered his authentic self? There is a confidence, a conviction in his passion for whatever path he is on. Psychologist Carl Jung described this as individuation, the process by which the personal and collective unconscious are brought into consciousness to reveal one's whole personality. In short: it is the process of becoming self-actualized.
How many of us can say that we live fully authentic lives? In our quest for approval from our peers, parents, mentors, and even from strangers, we often set aside what our intuition tells us is right, what is true for us, to fall in line with the rest of the pack. For example, think of the classic tale of the artist son or daughter who goes to law school or medical school to please his/her parents. And ironically,the energy that we use to suppress our inner voice is the very creative energy that returns to us, to be used for our own vocation. Fear of failure or low self-esteem may further work to push our passions down to a forgotten place, where we tell ourselves they belong. The problem is that by attempting to silence our inner voice, we limit our true potential and our ability to lead full and happy lives.
"What is it, in the end, that induces a man to go his own way and to rise out of unconscious identity with the mass as out of a swathing mist?" Jung asked in his collected works, The Development of Personality. "It is what is commonly called vocation: an irrational factor that destines a man to emancipate himself from the herd and from its well-worn paths. Anyone with a vocation hears that voice of his inner man: he is called."
The individuation process leads one ever closer to the person he is meant to be, with both a sense of awareness and a sense of wholeness. This journey is not just one of becoming whole, but also one of expansion. Through individuation, boundaries of who we are and what we allow ourselves to know and feel, extend even further out into the far reaches of what is possible: our potential.
As we wind down one year, and prepare to embrace a new year full of possibility, ask yourself: What is your passion -- your vocation?
By learning to listen and following your inner voice, you will be able to direct your journey toward a unique and self-actualized life. If you don't follow "herd" consciousness, but rather your own destiny, you will be able to unlock your true potential and discover, at last, a sense of personal wholeness. Only the outcast can lead, for he stands ahead and above the rest... and from that place can contribute back to the group and lead. By listening to that inner calling and pursuing your dreams, you can individuate and live a happy, fulfilled and self-directed life of authenticity and purpose.