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Feb 13, 2023

Video Summary:

Individuation is a concept that Carl Jung brought to us. Here I’m using individuation to refer to when we're making something ours. During the development of the independent personality which begins at six or seven years old, we're primarily learning things by watching what our parents, teachers, and coaches do.

And then somewhere in adolescence and then into early adulthood, we start finding our own way to do things. We might say, “My dad did it this way, but this is my way to do it.” We're rebelling, by saying, “I'm not my dad. I'm doing it my way. It has a willful energy that can be appropriate and productive.

Of course, this doesn't just happen in adolescence. The Medicine Wheel or Wheel of Life guides us to navigate a developmental cycle as we experience different aspects of ourselves. Maybe parts of us are still going through this individuation process of making an aspect of life ours.

A couple of examples come to mind. Bob Dylan learned his craft of folk music by learning from, and in some ways imitating, Woody Guthrie. After doing that for several albums, his own sound started to develop. He individuated after learning from Woody just like I individuated from my dad.

A personal example includes me studying with my teacher for a long time during which I was really working to do things as he did. I called it the purity of the tradition. And then it got to be important that found my own connection to spirit and expression of shamanism.

And I did this at sixty years old. So it doesn't just happen in adolescence. It's really important to realize that when you're going through these times, some adolescent qualities may arise. It might be that you are rebellious, oppositional, or willful. Perhaps it becomes important to do things your way.

I've really noticed that this is a tough one for people spiritually. It takes a lot of courage to do it your way. We have these wonderful spiritual teachers like Pema Chodron, Brene Brown, and Adyashanti, and there's a real tendency to want to do things the way they do.

But if you listen to the teacher closely, they're probably encouraging you to not do it the way they did it. They might say something like, "This is my expression, find your own way." At some point, it's really useful to make it yours by creating your own tradition, life path, and way of practicing spirituality.

This can be really scary. Maybe you've been this amazing student or follower and did everything just right for years. And then it gets becomes time to find your own way to do it. And when you do that, you may recognize some adolescent qualities in yourself that you swore you would never go through again.

But it's worth it. We already have a Pema Chodron, we don't need another one. We need you and your expression of spirituality.

What do you think?

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