Ten years ago, I started a psychology degree at The University of East London; I didn’t exactly fall easily back into education. I was also holding down a full-time job in the city at the same time. I seemed to spend most of my waking hours on the cramped London Underground scribbling down experimental ideas and endings of essays. I did however fall in love with the work of Carl Gustav Jung. So in February this year when I found myself contemplating life and the universe I decided to get back to Jung. Drawing on his teachings, I started my own individuation process and what came out of it was the beginning of a book. Characters that have obviously been living in my wildest imagination, I love spending time there so it’s not surprising I have made some friends along the way!
For those not familiar with Jung’s ‘individuation’ it is self-exploration. Looking into your persona, your self, your ego and your shadow, don’t worry the shadow I’ll save for a rainy day! Finding what lurks in your subconscious is not always pretty. Paring back past the persona that I project into the world, I started to look behind my eyes at my self. I needed to deal with some huge feelings of guilt and loneliness, love and hate, self-doubt, confidence and power.
I also started a new fitness regime called Tough Training; exercise for me had always been about losing fat not building muscle. I was drawn to the name because I knew I needed to be tough again. The advert of the muscly trainers was very impressive. At the end of my first session I couldn’t believe how mentally exhausted I was after an amazingly physical workout. After stumbling back to my car my face was still a shade of crimson. I sat there looking down at my feet and could not remember which pedal was the accelerator and which was the break. How can I forget something that I do everyday? Surely, this skill is ingrained in my sub-conscious, never mind my consciousness. Then of course, I needed to decide which foot to use. What a metaphor of my life, I had forgotten when to accelerate and when to slow down and even how to do it. I then realised I had been driving an automatic car for nearly 2 years now. Could the lack of physically changing gear be decreasing my mental ability to shift gear?
As the weeks went by and I delved deeper into my psyche I lifted weights heavier than I ever thought possible. Training was developing new skills to deal with my emotional state, not just my physical well-being. I was learning when to reset, accelerate, focus, and recognising when to catch my breath. These invaluable tools were making me mentally not just physically stronger.
My book Sharks & Lovers is available to download here: