Individuation: Fulfill Your Unique Pattern



Manly Palmer Hall Collection of Alchemical Manuscripts, 1600

“If you fulfill the pattern that is peculiar to yourself, you have loved yourself, you have accumulated and have abundance; you bestow virtue then because you have luster. You radiate; from your abundance something overflows. But if you hate and despise yourself—if you have not accepted your pattern—then there are hungry animals (prowling cats and other beasts and vermin) in your constitution which get at your neighbors like flies in order to satisfy the appetites which you have failed to satisfy. Therefore…the bestowing soul is lacking. There is no radiation, no real warmth; there is hunger and secret stealing.” ~Carl Jung, Nietzsche’s Zarathustra, Vol II (29 January 1936), p. 801.

Each of us is a mysterious, unique individual, born with our own personality, our own pattern of gifts and complexities. As we grow and move through life we are exposed to a variety of people and experiences, some helpful, some hurtful. All that we inherit, see, experience, are, and do effects us in ways that can either pull us farther away from our pattern, or draw us closer.

Unfortunately, we are not taught to seek our own pattern. Rather, compelled to find the love and acceptance we seek, most of us pull farther way from our pattern. We try to please and impress. To be like, and liked by, others. That never works. Instead of making us more lovable, conformity adds to our wounds, stifles our inner radiance, generates more yearning. The way to find love is to fulfill your pattern. That can only happen by first establishing a relationship with the Self, for that is the source of our pattern and the source of love.

Dr. Bud Harris, author of several Jungian books, including Sacred Selfishness: A Guide to Living a Life of Substance offers this advice to those who would find and fulfill their true selves.

1. Remember, love is difficult, the poet Rilke explains, in contrast to the sentimental way we like to think about it. Review your thoughts about love. Do you think it should just bring happiness, ease, or at least security? Do explosions, struggles, and failure make you think love has failed? Life isn’t easy and love can’t be easy either.

2. Cultivating self-love is an odyssey with moments of difficulty and joy. It’s an excursion into knowing ourselves, into asking whether what we are doing is adding to or diminishing how we feel about ourselves.

3. Self-love challenges the boundaries of how we have fenced ourselves into practicality, conventional wisdom, and other people’s perspectives. We must gently ask ourselves: whose voice are we really hearing in our head? Is it the voice of our heart or of our true Self?

4. Self-love isn’t self-indulgent. It isn’t shopping sprees, outlandish vacations, sneaking sweets, or pouting moods. It is the commitment to growing in self-knowledge and our capacity to love. Remember, taking the time for reflection isn’t egocentric. It is the key to having the kind of vitality that overflows.

5. Self-love is the foundation that determines how strongly we can give and receive love. Without it, our relationships will crumble under the slightest storm. Take the responsibility for understanding your fears and needs, and for facing them in a loving way.

6. Self-love rests on self-forgiveness, on being able to understand who we were when we failed ourselves, and what needs, hurts, fears, and deprivations were driving us. Only then may we meet ourselves with compassion and kindness. This is why our growth in self-understanding brings healing and reconciliation with our essential selves.

7. Self-love is learning how to be tough with ourselves and to take the driver’s seat in our life when we need to break a destructive mood or habit. We must remember that being tough with ourselves means being committed and energetic, having high standards and tenacity. Being tough with ourselves is the opposite of being hard on ourselves, which means being perfectionistic, self-critical, self-punishing, and unaccepting of our mistakes and weaknesses. It is important for us to remember each day that to embody love, to be love, begins with a foundation of self-love and self-compassion.

[Y]ou can never get to yourself without loving your neighbor—that is indispensable; you would never arrive at yourself if you were isolated on top of Mt. Everest, because you never would have a chance to know yourself.  You would have no means of comparison and could only make a difference between yourself and the wind and the clouds, the sun and the stars, the ice and the moon. And if you lose yourself in the crowds, in the whole of humanity, you also never arrive at yourself; just as you can get lost in your isolation, you can also get lost in utter abandonment to the crowd. So whoever insists upon loving his neighbor cannot do it without loving himself to a certain extent. ~Carl Jung, Nietzsche’s Zarathustra: Notes of the Seminar Given in 1934-39, Vol. II (24 June 1936), pp. 1019-20.

With thanks to Bud Harris for permission to reprint his Seven Principles.

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 Her new book, The Soul’s Twins, is available at Schiffer, Red Feather Mind, Body, Spirit and wherever books are sold. Subscribe to her newsletter at

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8 Responses

    1. Good morning Sally. I love it when that happens! I’m glad to know this speaks to you today. Blessings, Jeanie

  1. Brilliant! Thank you so much Jeanie for sharing Bud Harris’ seven incredible insights taken from his book “Sacred Selfishness”. I love the title alone and will definitely look into more of his work, although I do think I have a couple of his books and a jointly written one (Into the Heart of the Feminine) with his wife on my bookshelves.

    The sixth insight, “Self-love rests on self-forgiveness” really resonated with me today. Why? Because I don’t think I would’ve been able to live the life I’m living without forgiving myself the times I’ve failed in life. Learning to meet myself with kindness and compassion has been a long, slow, still unfolding journey, yet ultimately worth it!

    Oh, I love, love, love the whole idea of fulfilling our own unique pattern! Especially around (spiritually and psychologically) transitioning one’s “gender” at the moment in order to find unique place on the masculine and feminine continuum. Hmm, I think I’m going to be digging into this topic for most of this year! Love and light, Deborah.

    1. Thank you, Deborah. Bud Harris has a way of speaking directly to our psychological/spiritual needs and sharing practical advice about how to acquire them in very clear language. These insights are so simple and helpful.

      Yes, Self-forgiveness, perhaps the toughest of all. I struggle with it too. My idealism and perfectionism make it second nature to criticize myself for my failures. His distinction between being tough on ourselves and hard on ourselves in his 7th insight is a helpful reminder. I try to practice self-awareness. It can take a while to hear my negative self-talk and notice how it makes me feel. But when I do, I stop and and remind myself with a smile that it’s okay. I’m just human. Much love, Jeanie

  2. Hi Jean, This is a beautiful and timely post for me. I love the idea of having a unique pattern.

    1. So do I, Pamela! It’s comforting, isn’t it, to know there’s a beautiful design awaiting our discovery beneath all the detritus of our life? Some years ago I learned from the Jungian analyst Karen Signell that pattern and love are among the primary components of our core Self. They’re already there. We just have to acknowledge them. 🙂

  3. Thanks so much Jeanie and to Bud Harris for his Seven Principles each of which is a pearl of wisdom. I’ve been writing out into a large book 100’s of scraps of paper that have littered my study for too long and one of them is ‘acceptance of lowest parts of one’s self’. I know that Jung said something along these lines. And Jesus too. Another scrap – ‘consciousness goes hand in hand with conscience which leads to congruence’ and one more – ‘collective task within the crucible of our own souls’. There are plenty more – but the hour is late. For me it was wonderful to come across these hidden gems .. and I know I have several more piles of papers to transcribe into my big book. Love, Susan

  4. I do the same thing, Susan. Except I usually eventually enter them into files in my computer. Unfortunately, not in any really systematic way, so it can take me a while to find them. I very much like your big book idea. Underlining, writing, and re-writing have always helped me remember things better than just reading through without a pencil in my hand.

    I especially liked ‘consciousness goes hand in hand with conscience which leads to congruence.’ That’s so true. I expressed a similar sentiment in Healing the Sacred Divide. All three ‘C’s’ absolutely go together.

    Thanks so much for writing. Love, Jeanie

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