Affordable. Health. Care. Part I



Nothing can exist without its opposite;  the two were one in the beginning and will be one again in the end. Consciousness can only exist through continual recognition of the unconscious, just as everything that lives must pass through many deaths.  ~Carl Jung CW Vol. 9i  par. 178

There’s a battle going on in my head.  I hate fights.  I hate conflict of any kind.  But I’ve been witnessing this battle every day for six weeks and I’ve decided to give you a ringside seat. First I need to set the scene so you’ll know where I am and what the fight’s about it and who the antagonists are.

The setting is the political arena as seen from the perspective of my philosophical, introverted, sensitive, non-political mind.  The issue is Affordable Health Care.  The antagonists are various aspects of my Ego, Shadow, and Higher Self. Sometimes I know who’s speaking, sometimes I don’t.

For six weeks now, ever since I had an emotionally-charged conversation with a friend after I attended a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton, some of my inner characters have been having a dicey dialogue.  I wake up to their arguments. They make points throughout the day. Their themes populate my dreams and interrupt my sleep.

So why am I inviting you to view this inner drama? Here are a few of the reasons I recognize at the moment:

  1. To clarify my thoughts.

  2. To ease my conscience.

  3. To heal my conflicts.

  4. To get some sleep.

  5. To show you the kinds of challenges people face when they’re committed to self-knowledge, thinking psychologically, and living spiritually. After all, that’s the theme of this blog.

  6. Because I want to make a difference in individual and collective thinking and living.

I realize the last reason may sound a bit grandiose, but wouldn’t everyone like to think that maybe their lives made a positive difference, if only a very tiny one? In fact, isn’t there an inner archetypal force, a mysterious ‘transcendent function’ that pushes all of us, no matter how craven, to better ourselves, to rise above our ignorance and selfishness?

What but a personal experience of this function could motivate me to write a book called Healing the Sacred Divide:  Making Peace with Ourselves, Each Other, and the World? What but a taste of the joy that comes from heeding its call would cause any of us to do our best at our work and build loving, intimate relationships? Would we be fully human if we cared about nothing but ourselves?  I believe we wouldn’t. Yet sometimes I still fight my mysterious task master.

imagesSo here’s what’s been going on in my head:

“But I’m a philosopher, not an activist.”

“How’s that working for you? And how’s the view from your Ivory Tower?” (Pretty sure this latter comment came from my Spiritual Bully, not the Self.)

“But I abhor politics.  What possible good is there in self-serving rants and self-righteous blame games motivated by power and greed?”

“Don’t be so cynical. You know that’s human nature. We all react instinctively to fear, and the less awareness we have, the more we project our shadows onto others to take the heat off ourselves.”

“I know. But the fear and projection seem to be getting worse. And so few people seem to see it or care, and my psychologizing can’t change that. People have to want to change.”

“So if you really care, what can you do?”

“The only thing I know how to do is write, but I know absolutely zero about this issue and the factors involved.”

“You could find out. Do some research.  Ask around.”

“I’m not interested in that kind of research.  I want to understand how our minds work and why we behave the way we do. I don’t want to read thousands of pages of boring details, know who lobbies whom to get bills vetoed or passed, or learn the depressing facts about the twisted, depressing lies politicians tell to push their personal agendas through. None of it makes any lasting difference in the end. Meanwhile, it hurts to be constantly reminded that some people who are supposedly devoted to serving our country care more about getting re-elected than easing people’s pain and suffering. That they would rather distort the truth and blame the other party than be true to their consciences.  That they may not even have consciences.”

“Hmmm.  I’m hearing some powerful anger and resistance here.  What are you really afraid of.”

“Venturing into this new arena is difficult for me. My position is unusual and I don’t want to be misunderstood or scorned. What if I can’t present my case with clarity and objectivity?  What if people hate me or think I’m arrogant or frivolous?  It’s hard enough to see and deal with my own crap. Do I have to heap more coals on my head?”

“I see. Pooor baby. You think you shouldn’t have to suffer any more. After all, look how hard you’ve worked to become a more conscious, ‘spiritual’ person! (That had to be my Spiritual Bully again.) So if that’s how you feel, why keep agonizing about whether to write about this? Why not let people with thicker skins and extroverted personalities enter this particular fray?”

Consciousness-opposites“Aaarrgh! Because nobody else seems to care what’s happening to him and it’s not fair! I can’t stand to see him suffering over this injustice. And I couldn’t forgive myself if I didn’t try to help.”

“Well alright.  Let’s get on with it then, shall we?”

So that’s it. Next time, the full story from my friend.

Jean Raffa’s “The Bridge to Wholeness” and “Dream Theatres of the Soul” are at Amazon. E-book versions are also at KoboBarnes And Noble and Smashwords. “Healing the Sacred Divide” can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications.

Image credits:  Google Images. Gustav Dore’.  Jacob Wrestles with the Angel. Vincent van Gogh.  The Starry Night.


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0 Responses

  1. Kapow! In the gut there Jean (thank you – even if it hurts!) When to step into the fray and when to step aside – an ongoing dilemna. Always lend your support when and where you can is my politic I guess, and don’t stand aside when injustice is in front of you .. and if it means checking out a 1000 pages (ugh) to get the real side of the story to form a well considered view and if you want to say something, then go for it.. I’d want to know whether any candidate is funded by eg Monsanto; who has ties with other powerful businesses who have only their own interests at heart; who is ego driven; who has the nous to stand up and be counted etc etc etc
    ‘None of it makes any lasting difference in the end’ – your words. Yes it does make a difference. And yes suffering may be the cost to you if people don’t get what you’re saying and lambast you accusing you of stepping out of usual role. Goes with the territory …
    Good luck – eagerly await about Affordable. Health. Care. Issues – to which we surely all have a right and not just those who can afford private health care. It ain’t right …

    1. Hi Susan,
      “None of it makes any lasting difference in the end.” You’re right, of course. A wiser part of me knows how cynical this attitude is. And untrue. Everything we think, do, and say makes a difference.
      Yet there’s another participant in my inner dialogues that feels so hopeless when I confront the endless, mindless, thoughtless, clueless, depthless twisted repressiveness and self-servingness of ego-driven political surface solutions! Because I know that ultimately, humanity’s problems will only be resolved by digging deep into the depths of our unconscious selves and changing ourselves from the inside out.
      But, of course, that’s an extremely deep ocean to fathom, let alone live in. Nonetheless the fact that so few seem to have “the nous” to go there gets me down sometimes. I have to keep reminding myself of the Buddhist ideal of “joyful participation in the sorrows of the world.” Unfortunately, (or maybe fortunately?) when it comes to politics, I haven’t attained that level of detachment. It occurs to me that maybe I shouldn’t even try. After all, in my experience, creative solutions come from facing the tension between the opposites, not avoiding it.
      Thanks for the helpful and encouraging comments!

    1. Yes. And they can be relentless until we take them seriously and agree to listen to them. Just writing about them was cathartic for me.
      In fact, I’ve just remembered a dream from last night….my first in several days. Fittingly, it was about being in a big house with several people who shared one quality: they were all reflective, progressive, non-conforming types. I knew a few from waking life, but most were unfamiliar. I was trying, rather unsuccessfully, to fix them a meal of round hamburgers on round buns (one of which fell apart into three pieces), which I planned to pile up on a round plate on a very interesting and unique low round table with a painted pattern.
      Meanwhile, some “storm-trooper” soldiers in white Star Wars armor were gathering outside, setting up huge weapons on tripods, like rocket launchers and machine guns, all pointed at the house. Then I noticed that some of our people had gone outside and were sitting quietly on benches against the walls of the house, a tacit acknowledgment of surrender. I kept thinking what a great idea that was and that I should get Fred’s attention and we should join them. But I couldn’t get his attention, and I stayed in the house, trying to fix this meal and wanting to vacuum the carpets.
      To my surprise, a few of the “storm troopers” came inside and were very casual and friendly, and I realized maybe they weren’t really much of a threat. Some of them were even helping clean up the house. One hosed down the floors, others took a big pool table outside. I had no idea why. But I somehow knew I had nothing to fear from these guys. Their big show outside was just that: a show.
      Hmm, this will be an interesting one to work on!

  2. Dear Jeanie, thank you so much for another rich, insightful article. With clear language once more, you effortlessly illustrate the tension of the opposites. Ah! That old chestnut I hear myself say (ego, no doubt!) for are the philosopher and activist not two sides of the same coin, battling it out within? Consciously, I’m also not politically minded either (persona) yet unconsciously (shadow) I’m sure there’s a raging politician within, forever shouting out the odds!
    That great philosopher Jung recommended that we neither give the shadow free reign nor try to suppress it. We need, he reflected, to simply recognise that these movements are within us and are part of our internal dynamics … he advises us to accept them, without trying to cure them, recommending that cultivating a sense of paradox is best. For if we over-identify with either, persona or shadow, we will cause ourselves huge problems in life.
    Over-identifying with the persona tends to bring about huge anxieties, stopping a person from being able to fulfil their legitimate aspirations. Perfectionists fit into this category. Those that do the same with the shadow means that a person will adopt deviant, primitive, infantile and regressive behaviours … in other words they give free reign to all their desires. As you can see, consenting to become your shadow, condemns you to live a life controlled by your passions alone.
    After reading the wonderful book, ‘How To Befriend Your Shadow: Welcoming Your Unloved Side’ by John Monbourquette, I have learnt that every family has its shadow too, and this will be whatever your family didn’t allow itself to live and express. National (countries) and workplaces (institutions) have shadows too, i.e. An institution that cannot recognise its own shadow will gradually begin to deviate from its goals. But worse still, completely fascinated by its shadow, it will end up promoting the very thing it is trying to avoid. With a National shadow, a country will begin to isolate itself, the more it becomes blind to its own failings, the more it will tend to project its fears, loathing’s and old stereotypes onto its neighbours.
    I digress, (Ha-ha! we introverted, sensitive, philosophical types do!) okay back to your inner drama … let’s call it, ‘The Philosophy of Politics’ or ‘The Politics of Philosophy’ depending on which lens you’re viewing this performance with. Here’s something I find really helpful when that inner stage show continues longer than I can bear it! I look for images of both antagonists online … you may choose a contemporary or ancient philosopher like Aristotle, Plato or even Jung … or you may choose an image that represents philosophy for you, like the symbol of the Owl, or a thousand other google images for ‘lovers of wisdom’ and as for the image or symbol for the politician, well, the world’s your oyster, maybe you might choose to use an image of Hilary herself.
    Anyhow, I print both images off, then cut them out and glue them onto a new, third piece of paper, I literally bring both images together. Sometimes I’ll sit them at a table that I’ve already pasted in, or place them in a swimming pool or I’ll put them into armchairs by a winter fire where they can meet and talk. You can get really creative with collage and bring other stuff into the scene. Once, I cut out two books ‘The Red Book’ and for me, its nemesis (some kind of business book, can’t remember which title today!) in order to integrate something for myself. In any case, one way or another, it happens that the opposites will start talking to each other in a more focussed, clear way, and come what may, the integration process begins.
    Now I will leave this (third) image out, in view, for several days until I recognise that it’s ok to leave them to it, and trust that between all of us (within) who are paying attention to this now inner/outer drama that these aspects of myself will know what they’re doing and are finding new ways to related to each other. Ha-ha! Currently on display in my living room I have a very fat man and an anorexic looking woman, hmm, I’m thinking, that fat animus is so going on a diet! And as for that skinny woman, well she sure needs plumping up … a work in progress! I hope to write about it soon. Warm winter wishes, Deborah.

    1. What a rich, insightful commentary on the opposites, Deborah. I’m especially drawn to your observation, “for are the philosopher and activist not two sides of the same coin, battling it out within?” Oh, yes, indeed they are!
      Synchronistically, the first quote I came upon when I checked Facebook this morning was one posted by Lewis Lafontaine on his Jung page: “There is no consciousness without discrimination of opposites.” Then when I read your observations on the same topic, they were so inspiring and appropriate that I realized I had neglected to include relevant quotes about the opposites in this post, so now I have revised it to reflect Lewis’s and your contributions. So I want to thank you. The inspiration you and Lewis and so many others in my Jungian community continually bring to me is so very heartening. And embolding.
      Let’s see, I think that I shall call my inner drama ‘The Politics of Philosophy’ this morning! As you know, a philosopher is always having to weigh varying positions, often opposing and almost always paradoxical, to create order out of the mess in her inner house. (See last night’s dream in my comment to Diane McPhail above.) A political task if ever there was one!
      I love, love your marvelous practice of creating an artful collage of images, and appreciate your sharing it here very much. I’ve also successfully used a physical ritual involving my inner antagonists in which I place two seats opposite each other and physically occupy one, then the other, alternatively speaking each character’s truth aloud, then voicing the other’s response until they reach some kind of mutual agreement and closure. Your more artistic practice is a great addition to my active imagination tool kit. Thank you.
      Warm winter wishes to you too, Jeanie

  3. Ha-ha! Initially I always feel like a madwoman when first meeting myself in the empty chair yet know the transformative power that this Gestalt exercise brings to myself and clients. Thank you for reminding me today. ‘The Politics of Philosophy’ … no wonder the Self is referred to often as the Philosopher’s Stone. That was a fabulous dream last night Jeanie. Hmm, with hints and glimpses of new work (a book she hopes!) I feel. Excellent, as always.

    1. Thanks, Deborah. You make another important point. So many active imagination exercises start out making us feel silly and embarrassed, and, unfortunately, I think that’s why so many people I know reject them out of hand. Yet I’ve never participated in one that I didn’t experience a powerful resonance and a healing change. Somehow we have to get over our preference for Logos and disdain for Mythos! How can we possibly hope for health and balance when we cave in to our ego’s pride and insist on being one-sided?
      Yes, if the Philosopher’s Stone is a symbol of consciousness, enlightenment and completion, then even it contains and entertains political conflicts and paradoxes and frustrations, with the difference being that in this state we face our fears and faults consciously.
      New book? We’ll see. Thoughts are definitely stirring around in an underground cauldron, and ideas keep bubbling up, but I’m still waiting for two things: their distillation into their essence, and the time to express it in writing.

  4. I was never entirely happy with what I wrote Jean above – and TODAY I came across Edinger’s Intro to Jung’s Mysterium Coniunctio pg 30 in which he responds to a question about our concern re political issues – to quote: ‘And each of us, trying to be as conscious as possible, must ask ourselves what our proper life arena is. … if politics, then we are obliged to to prepare ourselves to function effectively in that arena and live out our life there. … if distress at what’s going on in the world .. I ought to do something about it … THINK TWICE. The most effective way to .. transform the world… is … transform the little piece that is oneself. .. one isn’t entitled to attempt the transformation of the outer world – unless .. one’s work arena happens to be there’.

    1. Thanks, Susan. That has pretty much been my thinking too. And I guess thinking twice is what I’ve been doing for the last 6 weeks. I know politics isn’t my arena. But inner work and self-discovery are. And so is writing. So I finally realized that all I really needed to do was give my friend a platform from which to share his story.

  5. Inner equals outer … so once the inner is in the process of being changed the outer has to follow suit…. I appreciate your struggles. Hang in there!

  6. Thanks, Fran. I sometimes think of this truth in these ancient words: “As above, so below.” Or, “As without, so within.”
    In my experience, just tolerating the tension of our inner conflicts by reflecting on them is enough to change the situation if we keep at it long enough. Things change without our even having to make any major decisions or take drastic action. That’s already happening with this piece.
    For example, just writing about it has dramatically eased my conflict; in fact, I’m not even having it any more. Now I’m thinking, why was I fretting so much? I was worried that I wouldn’t get the words right—I don’t know Insurance language or the issues of the Affordable Health Care Act—but the other day my friend handed me a typed summary of the issue in his own words, and suddenly my having to learn all this stuff is no longer an issue. So yes, “hanging in there” is actually the best advice we can give someone who’s undergoing inner turmoil!!
    Blessings to you.

  7. A brave post loaded with huge issues. My philosophy/Jung teacher in the 1960s said, and I paraphrase, “Suffering will always be with us. We need to understand ourselves and our minds and deepen our meditation practice.” I didn’t buy it entirely, but did step back from spending much of my time on Vietnam and anti-nuclear war protest. Slowly the urgency transferred to environmental issues–and I admit that happened when the land and lakes near me were threatened. But this is where I have energy, so I pay attention to environmental problems. In the end, I’m afraid climate change and population control are past the tipping point, but who am I to give up? There are many knotted problems in this world and life. I still struggle inwardly with how to use my time and resources. Thank you for writing this and exposing the inner voices as they weight in on this issue.

  8. I follow you on Twitter Jean. My name is Jay Balding. I became aware of you via Elaine Mansfield. Isn’t she something?!! I love you post. I have written extensively for many politicians on health care…perhaps even for the one you cite in this article!
    Affordable health care. ObamaCare is certainly well intentioned. It is so limited in scope though it is hurting the overall health of those it is intended to help most. There is no approach for the entire well being of a patient. Medically, holistically, spiritually–how do we in good conscience not make affordable healthcare for the whole of a person? Ironically, the pre-ObamaCare system afforded more options for a patients overall well being. The affordable Health Care Act really is just survival care.
    The inner drama you describe comes from a place of spiritual wellness. Your blog is activist. Why though is being labeled an activist a bad thing? Trying to improve other lives while improving your own seems a noble goal. It should be The Goal. It is why the best of the policy writers for the person at your fundraiser have long since bailed.
    Perhaps one day we will care and insure the whole of a person, pun intended. We should either turn back the clock on healthcare or better yet fast forward it to an enlightened place. Right now we are all being shortchanged…mind, boy, and spirit.

    1. Hello, Jay. I’m very pleased to make your acquaintance. Yes, Elaine Mansfield is most definitely something!
      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on the Affordable Health Care Act here. As you will see from the next post, my friend’s story is an example of its limited scope and the problems it’s causing for him and his wife. Survival care. Wow. Well, I guess we have to start somewhere, and surely helping people survive is the best of all places to start.
      I really appreciate your acknowledgments that my inner drama comes from a place of spiritual wellness and that my blog is activist! You’ve put into words my intentions and intuitions about what I do here, but it’s especially nice to see them coming from someone else.
      I can’t imagine why being labeled an activist is a bad thing! (Well, actually I can, but I don’t think I’ll go there.) Frankly, I think it’s just about the best thing ever…truly a noble goal. I so admire Elaine for her brand of activism and have often felt guilty for not doing similar things. I didn’t realize that “the person at my fundraiser” has given up on it, and am disappointed to know it. Perhaps she will go back to it if/when elected? One can hope.
      Thank you for writing. It’s so good to know I’m not alone in my goals or my disappointment at the flaws inherent in the best of political intentions. It would be so very nice if we could fast forward healthcare to an enlightened place, but I sincerely doubt that’ll happen in my lifetime. After all, it took democracy 5 centuries to move from an ideal to a practical reality. I just keep hoping we’ve evolved to a more expanded collective consciousness since then!
      My best to you,

  9. Sorry, folks. This answer belongs to the comment above Jay’s. Unfortunately, I have no way of moving it there now!
    Thank you, Elaine. Yes, above all else, before we can make a lasting difference in any way, we have to understand ourselves and become more conscious. That alone will be enough to make a difference. I have to keep reminding myself of that when I think of you and all you do to protect your environment, and of my friends who devote so much of their time and energy to important humanitarian causes. But I have no doubt about what I do best, and I’m doing my best to do my best my way, because that’s where the energy is! One can only ask so much of oneself.

  10. Hello Jean,
    I am always interested to read your blog but at times find it a little incomprehensible. As someone who has a long standing interest and respect for Jungian Ideas I am always interested to see how they are integrated into the life experience of other people with similar values. What I find difficult is that the lifestyle you describe in your blogs is so far removed from my own experience that I sometimes feel that it is self indulgent and privileged. I don’t mean to be insulting in this and will explain it a little. I live in England and have a background which has included times when I have struggled to feed my family and pay the bills. In England there is a valued tradition of Socialist ideas which I have always adhered to alongside my Jungian interest, and basic moral core. The basis of this is the idea that we have a common responsibility for everyone in our society, this has been embedded in the culture through the National Health Service which provides free healthcare for everyone. It has been there for the past 60 years. To me it is incomprehensible that a civilized society would not provide this (though we are currently under attacked by a despised right wing government who want to introduce the free market and make health a profit making enterprise.) So to get to the point, Our internal conflicts do not usually kill us, poor healthcare and poverty does, physically, psychologically and spiritually.
    We are part of a humanity which is capable of great things, but in the same way we have our Shadow so too does our community . Those of us who are lucky enough to have been able to develop our gifts should always remember and fight for the less fortunate.
    There is a blunt Northern English expression which i could use but modesty prevents me using this in the company of strangers.
    I hope you resolve the conflicts you are experiencing, and find what it is you need to do.
    Best Wishes

    1. Dear Gary,
      Thank you for your honest and thoughtful comments. I’d like to respond to a few of the excellent points you’ve made.
      First, I don’t blame you for feeling that my lifestyle is self indulgent and privileged. I know that it is, especially when compared to the early years of my life when my mother struggled to pay our bills after my father died. Had I not somehow earned a scholarship, I would never have gone to college, and when we married, my husband and I paid for our daily needs and advanced educations with our own income from our jobs. Like you, I grew up feeling a common responsibility for everyone. Both my parents came from humble backgrounds and dedicated their lives to serving humanity, my mother as a nurse, my father as a policeman. In her spare time and after her retirement my mother learned to type Braille to make the lives of the blind easier. She also knitted and donated thousands of bootees and caps to the local Women’s Hospital. Neither of my parents ever dreamed of living the kind of lifestyle I have now.
      Over the years I’ve donated much volunteer time and unsolicited money to several social causes including the hungry, the homeless, single parents, abused women, and children with physical and emotional challenges. I care about social injustices, and I write with the hope of somehow being of help in the way that is most in accordance with my particular passions and gifts. I write to educate people to understand themselves so they can see and acknowledge their shadows and society’s collective shadows. I write to raise our personal and collective awareness of injustice so we, as individuals and societies, will be motivated to behave in more just, caring and humane ways.
      I know many Americans do not share the social conscience of many English citizens, and I’m not proud of that aspect of my national heritage. It’s the main reason I dislike politics so much. So many of our elected officials only seem to care about themselves and getting re-elected and I find that unconscionable. I see the struggles so many have, and I feel guilty and ashamed for not doing more. I struggle with this moral conflict on a regular basis, and that’s one of my reasons for writing this post.
      It’s also my reason for expecting and fearing criticism. The friend I’m writing this post about does not enjoy the same lifestyle I do. While he knows me pretty well and, I believe, respects me, occasionally his anger at the economic injustices he and his wife are subjected to comes out in remarks that remind me of my privilege and suggest he thinks I’m insensitive to his situation and to others who share his problems. His economic background, morality, and work ethic are similar to mine and he and his wife have enjoyed a relatively comfortable lifestyle until now, although without some of the luxuries enjoyed by others in our community. But because of the exorbitant payments he’s having to make under the Affordable Health Care Act, he fears this may not last.
      He’s been a valuable teacher who’s shown me an unknown and unexpected aspect of my shadow and raised my awareness of the economic struggles of many others. The reason for most of my inner turmoil is that I’m afraid he’s right. I guess I believed that coming from humble beginnings and working hard and caring and having a strong conscience and high ideals and hoping to make a change with my volunteer work and writing should somehow exempt me from being considered thoughtless, insensitive, and self-indulgent. I see that it does not.
      I agree with all my heart that “those of us who are lucky enough to have been able to develop our gifts should always remember and fight for the less fortunate.” I’ve tried to do that. And as one who’s always been sensitive to criticism, I’ve hoped that what I’ve done and continue to do was enough to spare me from criticism or judgment, but of course, that’s naive. So has been my belief that sharing my inner triumphs and struggles would be helpful. But of course, there is little I can say that would be relevant or helpful to those who are involved in a daily struggle to pay their bills and do not have the luxury of time for reflecting on their moral conflicts. I understand how they and others might see my inner work as self-absorbed and my worries as self-indulgent.
      Your thoughtful response to my post has helped me see this more clearly. I apologize for any thoughtlessness or insensitivity. I wish I knew how to talk and write about the benefits of psychological thinking and spiritual awareness without offending. The last thing I want to do is add to another’s suffering.
      My sincere best wishes to you and your family,

      1. Hello Jeanie ,
        Thank you for your response I very much appreciate your answer. There is absolutely no need for you to apologise, I agree with you that the benefits of talking of psychological thinking and spiritual awareness are of great importance, and appreciate you standing up to assert it’s importance and share your experiences of your journey and the struggle to be who you can be. I do find it odd that you are so sensitive to criticism.
        I work as a mental Health Nurse in the NHS, and when I still had a bit off wall in an office I used to have my little gallery of inspirational quotes and poems. I can’t remember the exact quotes but hopefully you will be familiar with them. There is the one ” if not now, when? If not me, who?”, ” First they came for……. when they came for me there was no-one left to help me.” My favourite was a D H Lawrence quote ” Let us be Men, not monkeys minding machines.”, As someone who was destined to spend my life rotting as a factory labourer like my own father, this helped me understand how we create our own fate and how important it is to fight for our values and follow our spiritual muse and conscience, regardless . We can’t do everything, but we only have one chance at life, and though we will inevitable make many mistakes we can but try.
        Best Wishes

  11. Hi Gary,
    Thank you for your kind response.
    I think my sensitivity to criticism comes mostly from my personality type. The Jungian-oriented Myers-Briggs Personality Type Inventory says I am a rare type identified as an INFJ (Introverted/Intuitive/Feeling/Judging.) I know this to be true. My type feels things deeply. One characteristic can be a pronounced sensitivity to all sorts of phenomena that others easily ignore or brush off, including one’s emotions and the emotions of others, conflict and criticism, etc. Just yesterday I was reading the Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt. In the first 50 or so pages she describes herself as a child who preferred to be alone, was shy and withdrawn, conformed to convention, was very sensitive to scolding and conflict, etc., and I thought, “Wow. She could be describing me!”
    So I googled her name and the MBTI, and guess what type she is. Yes, an INFJ, same as me. As I read further, I learned that she struggled with these and other qualities well into her adulthood. Of course, after her marriage her circumstances were such that she had to be “out there” in the world on a daily basis, and eventually this constant conditioning “immunized” her against much of her internal discomfort. The same has happened to me as well, though nowhere near her scale! Anyway, it’s comforting to “meet” other people, whether in life or books, who have had similar challenges to overcome. It makes it easier to accept and forgive oneself.
    Yes, I am familiar with all those quotes and find them inspiring as well. I admire you for stepping out of the life-pattern inherited from your father. In my experience, that’s rarer than one might think. Most people tell themselves they’re nothing like their parents, yet whether they realize it or not, end up being controlled throughout their lives by dicta they received as children. I believe that our goal in life is to evolve into our truest, best, unique selves, so to me it feels that to never become oneself must be the most horrible fate of all!
    My best to you,

    1. Thank you again Jeanie.
      I’m not sure what time it is in USA at this moment. It really is very interesting to hear from you and get some sense of how someone else has negotiated the events of there life. Also the influences which we are exposed to in relation to our different cultures. I am certainly an introverted character and although I have never bothered to look at my personality type, I’m sure there are significant similarities. ( one difference being my dislike of being explained and categorised.) There is one glaring difference which was highlighted by your last sentence which struck me very powerfully.
      “So to me it feels that to never become oneself must be the most horrible fate of all.”
      The difference in our view is that in my experience we can NEVER become ourself. It’s just not possible and if that is what we want we will be always disappointed. We are not is the process of becoming ourself, we are ourself all the time whatever we are doing, we are a work in progress that will end the moment of our death. Rather than finding this to be a horrible fate, I find it quite inspiring, it means that we are always in the process of becoming and can become more (or Less) than we are at any moment. It is definitely not an easy option. As we are moving through the stages of our lives and have negotiated the expectations of our parents and peer group and society we then encounter the expectations of our spouses and grown up children, and grand children, to be what they want us to be, so it all carries on with a whole lot of other expectations.
      I am terrible at remembering quotes and also mis-remembering then to suit my own purposes (transforming them?)
      A great instruction for life ” try… fail.. try again… fail better. ” this is a mishmash of a Samuel Beckett quote.
      Anyway thank you for your time and the thought provoking words. If it’s late at night over there, goodnight, if it’s morning ,have a good day.
      Best wishes

      1. As I see it, we’re dealing with a paradox here that is not easy to sum up in a single, simple quote. I agree with your beliefs that the journey to individuation is never over and that we are constantly changing, but to me this doesn’t mean I can’t ever become myself at any given point in time. I was coming from the perspective of people like Joseph Campbell, who said, “The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are,” and Ralph Waldo Emerson who said, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
        I believe I am both being and becoming myself in this moment, or at least I’m being a very real part of the very real self I am becoming. I’m doing what I love and saying what I think without holding back or pretending or trying to impress or be politically correct. But because I have many parts of me that I still don’t know, and because I’m constantly growing and changing through this adventure I call my life–and will continue to do so for as long as I live–I might say something very different and even contradictory tomorrow, and still be being myself.
        The distinction I’m making when I talk about becoming myself is the difference between my old habitual, unconscious self which spoke and behaved from within the conforming constraints of the limited perspective of the limited consciousness of my ego self, as well as the old, unconsciously conforming social self of my persona (both of which withhold much of our true selves from others), and, on the other hand, from having become conscious enough to know when I’m conforming and when I’m being totally authentic in the moment, doing what I love, feeling what I feel, and saying what I think without trying to censor myself to fit tradition or the current fashion. Just being authentic no matter what others think or how much I may grow and change. Insofar as I can stay conscious, I am both being and becoming myself. But to be clearer, perhaps I should have said something like, “So to me it feels that to never discover what it means to be authentic, and to never allow oneself to be authentic, must be the most horrible fate of all.” 🙂
        At the moment it’s 5:14 pm EST here, so I imagine it’s 5 or 6 hours later where you are. Sleep well!

  12. Hi Jean,
    My wife and I were talking this morning about how much we are inspired by your writing. You not only have a unique insight into Jungian principles, but you are able to explain them clearly and translate them into real world action. The way that you have shared yourself and your experiences has had a great impact on both of us and on life’s daily struggles.
    We have studied Jung’s work since a serendipitous moment (on 11/25/92) at the Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver when by whim I bought a Gerhard Wehr biography of Jung and my wife bought “Women Who Run With The Wolves”. I wondered who this guy was and I also could not quite grasp the strange title of her book. But we were both hooked from that day forward. The shocking thing is that each new discovery seems like the final one – until the next one shows up unexpectedly. I remember well Jung’s warning about how easily inflation sneaks up on us and we quickly forget what we learned yesterday and do foolish things today. I am reminded of Yogi Berra’s observation: ” In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.” What a Jungian Psychologist he was! So, you have helped both of us greatly with this process of trying to see what our shadows are up to. Thank you.
    P.S. When you mentioned sensitivity, we both knew exactly what you meant. I am INFJ and she is INFP. Boy, do we have to be careful what we say to each other…

    1. Hi Richard, I’m still laughing at your last line. Your situation is so familiar. My husband’s type is opposite mine in 3 of 4 continuums, and our vast differences can create the same problem. Do you suppose people who are smack dab in the middle of all 4 continuums can communicate with each other without hurt or misunderstanding?
      And the Yogi Berra quote has me chuckling too. He really was psychologically savvy, wasn’t he? Even though he tended to mix up metaphors and wording, he still somehow made sense!
      I so appreciate your very kind and affirming words. Today’s one of those days when they really helped more than usual. Knowing there are people who feel as you do about my writing makes all my efforts feel so worthwhile! Not that they don’t feel worthwhile anyway, but I think you know what I mean. We are social creatures, after all.
      It’s so true that each discovery seems the final one—until the next one pops up. I’ve had that experience so many times that I think I finally recognize it well enough to not get sucked into believing I’ve reached some final ideal destination, or ever will! It’s very humbling, isn’t it?
      Thank you for writing. And thank your wife for me too…..just for understanding.

  13. Replying from Canada with actual public, free health care (no dental sadly) brought in decades ago It certainly has made a huge difference in my life (having this sort of health care system). And frees me up to a large degree to live a life able to focus on things such as what you discuss in this blog. I can’t imagine taking a second or third job to pay medical bills.

    1. Thank you for this input Steven. The system you describe, and the freedom from economic pressures it gives you to pursue other aspects of your life sounds wonderful.
      As you know, socialism in any form is deeply threatening to many Americans who have an almost morbid fear of government control. I’m sure this is at least partly because we are a nation of immigrants who came here to free themselves from repressive governments. My own ancestors left the Netherlands to escape religious persecution at a time when religious authorities were perhaps even more powerful than the government.
      As one who sees psychological reasons for everything, I recognize the fear beneath this resistance and know it can take much experience and many generations to balance it with a measure of trust.

  14. The breadth and depth of your post and the generous comments by others as well as yourself are inspirational. I found myself wanting to jump into the conversation, yet really have not much to add other than nodding in appreciation and encouragement.
    Your final paragraph in your response to Steven McCabe (above) mirrors much of what I have been thinking and writing about (short blog post at though my writing on this has been a lot more extensive) since moving back to the family area in which I grew up — an area where the religious and political culture is vastly different from my own.

    1. Hi Darla, I’m glad to know you found this inspirational. I love the way people are sharing their thoughts here and on the next post. I checked out the link you sent me and loved your post, but when I tried to answer it, my comment was rejected several times until I finally gave up! So I’m including it here:
      “Thank you for providing me with the link to this post, Darla. I’m very glad to know about Founding Faith! I can’t wait to check it out. I love the way you blend your thinking with your love for Nature into one organic and balanced whole. I tend to do the same thing, especially when I’m in the Smokies! Nature has a way of doing that, doesn’t it? Jeanie Raffa”

  15. Lovely comments and your responses Jeanie thank you – I’m glad I popped back here again in attempting to access your more recent post … which I’ll get to now-ish. Thank you – like a breath of fresh air, deepening and widening …

    1. I’m glad you popped back too. I always appreciate your observations. Having avoided political discussions here for so long, I’m quite surprised and pleased to see how much interest and commentary this topic has generated. It’s giving me the confidence to pursue more topics like this that touch me so deeply though I know so little about them.

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