Category Archives: Psychology

Like the tip of an iceberg…

Like the tip of an iceberg, only a fraction of who you are is visible in the physical world. Unseen and often ignored, the human soul is a place of ambiguity, of contradiction and paradox.

~ “The Shadow Effect” by Debbie Ford and Deepak Chopra

 

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10 Quotes by the Wise Mystical Psychologist Carl Jung

 

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How to Unlock the Gold Within Your Shadow

“We must challenge ourselves to accept all the faces of our humanity; otherwise the characters that got booted off stage and are now repressed will become the silent orchestrators of our secret life.” ~ The Shadow Effect

I saw this quote today as a post by Debbie Ford who is a co-author of the book “The Shadow Effect”.  It is truly a remarkable book that talks about how when we repress ourselves, the “ugliness” emerges that, according to Carl Jung, is referred to as our “shadow”.

Even after reading this book and understanding Jung’s model I’ll say that the shadow can truly appear to be a fine line between the ego.  By definition, they are completely different yet ultimately they are exactly the same.

What I mean by that is this: The ego is how we project ourselves to others.  It is the part of us that is human that allows us to speak the thoughts that come through our mind rather than spirit.  The shadow, on the other hand, is the parts of ourselves that we have repressed.  It develops a child who loved playing music but, because their parents or culture didn’t approve, it is now a repressed part of the child when they are an adult.  The irony, of course, is that what we have repressed in ourselves is that though it may be hurtful and feel shameful to confront, it is ultimately like finding a gold mine.

There are many different guidelines that one can follow in order to recognize and release the shadow within themselves.  Many of which can involve a lot of personal self-reflection at the “ugliness” of your past actions and such.  However, I’ve felt through personal reflection that this concept can be broken down and be quickly resolved in the very present moment by fully choosing to make one simple change.

So how can you completely open yourself to your shadow?  To stop any and all judgment of others and to allow yourself to loving empathy and Divine understanding.

The reason this works is because, truly, we are all connected as one humanity.  If you judge or reject a person rather than understand their struggles and pain then the only thing you are doing is hurting yourself as a result.  That judgment that you now placed upon that person is now a repress part of you.

So how can a person recognize if there is judgment or not?  My rule of thumb is this: If you feel any inner resistance at any time, then your ego-driven mind is speaking.

The second you release yourself of all resistance then you will notice several things happen:

  1. You will open yourself to a greater psychic/intuitive awareness.  You will notice more clairvoyance images appear during your day.  You will have more “A ha!” moments.  You may develop a greater “vision” of your life’s path.
  2. You will feel a greater sense of universal wisdom.  True wisdom cannot come from studying a textbook or critically analyzing.  True Divine wisdom can only come from a greater connection to the divine source.  I do truly feel like that is what made people like Albert Einstein so incredibly intelligent.
  3. You will open yourself to universal love for everything in the world.  You will love the differences, the good and the bad, the challenges, and more — because you can then see and understand the Divine purpose for these things.

Finally, I suggest that you don’t necessarily take this as a linear approach as the human ego-driven mind likes to.  Meaning, reaching these higher levels can be quite variable throughout our lives.  It’s not like a step-by-step program that is going to allow you to “be connected and enlightened” but then never have days where some inner resistance emerges again.  The process is a journey, and we have to support one another and regularly work to maintain balance.  There is no “finish line”, only new and different cycles of challenges.

 

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Psychology and Spirituality: East vs. West

After living in Korea for a little over a year now, I can say that western and eastern cultures are extremely different.  Well, not merely just extremely different but actually quite the opposite in their way of thinking and doing things.  Western culture so often looks at things logically and “black and white” while eastern cultures, I’ve found, actually encourage sharing emotions, harmony in communities, and developing relationships beyond a mere work environment. Though there are many trends that I’ve noticed and have tried to understand, I’ve felt that I’ve still been missing a bit of a “link” in fully understanding the east — and, after visiting Japan, I have been even more curious to “figure these cultures out”.

Upon the end of my vacation in Japan and arriving back to Korea, I happened to make a new Korean friend along the way.  Luckily through our conversations, I felt much more enlightened about understanding Eastern philosophy and culture versus the west.  These are a few points that I’ve realized that I’ve felt (so far) draws the line of differing philosophies clearly:

  • Western Christianity has the philosophy of “You are sinner.  You are bad.  To save you from sin, you need to be educated by the bible and our teachings”.
  • Eastern Christianity has the philosophy of “You are a pure being.  What influenced you to sin?  What influenced you to do bad?”
  • Eastern culture, in general, has a heavy Buddhism influence.
  • Western culture, in general, has a heavy Christian influence.
  • The Japanese have two main religions: Shinto and Buddhism, which they kind of influence each other.  Shinto is only Japanese and Buddhism came over from China and Korea.  Other religions are a minority in Japan.  Japan’s Emperor is looked to as a divine being (which correlates to the view of a “hierarchy” and honor your ancestors and God(s) in the east).  During WWII, all  people were told to honor the Emperor.  Clearly, after the atomic bomb and the end of the war this trend ended and Japan had a cultural impact from the US.  This opened them up to a democracy and starting things (slowly) like clinical psychology.
  • When considering that Japan still has an Emperor, their government structure is actually more similar to one of the UK.  While South Korea, on the other hand, has a government structure like the US because of the US influence after the Korean civil war.
  • The Japanese have had a philosophy of “we need to protect our God” — hence, their past drive for things like suicide missions, which is also a similar philosophy to Muslims.

This Eastern view of questioning “What influenced you to do bad?” is something I find quite fascinating.  This view is even a complete reflection of the police and government’s influence in the east compared to the west.  In western countries, you often see police watching the streets.  They are always wondering “Who is speeding” and to see if you are “Being a good person”.  In the eastern countries, I hardly ever see police.  I have never seen a single person pulled over for speeding.  The reason for this is because they naturally assume that “Everyone is good”.

This differing in philosophy has a greater impact than just with the government and police, but I’ve also seen this in economic and social development in eastern cultures.  When something new is introduced from a different country, the eastern cultures react in a way of “Oh wait, is this bad?  Maybe we should wait it out a bit to check that it is an okay”.

Based on an article about psychology in Japan that I found here, it seems that the country has been rather hesitant into really allowing this “drive to have psychotherapy” from the  states to really take off.  I’ve personally noticed the same trend in South Korea, where, despite a country having the largest suicide rate in the world, there are hardly any therapists.  The reason is because of this cultural philosophy of thought of therapy that says “That tells us we are bad, so how can that be good?”

I can’t help but see a big lesson behind this trend and to feel that it is something that the US and other western countries need to learn is that: You can’t truly help the majority of people by placing the belief on them that they are “bad” with personality disorders, psychological medications, and blaming their parents and family.  It only adds more negative energy, resistance, and keeps people in a stagnant cycle.

I see how the west has certainly done it’s influence on the east and it is producing a positive effect as far as their gradual economic and social growth, but when will the west fully accept and be influenced by eastern philosophy?  I feel that it’s starting and the trends can be found, but there’s still a ways to go.

If there is anyone reading who would be considered from an eastern culture or has lived in an eastern culture, I would love your input!  I can try to understand the cultural differences as much as I can, but it is still something that I’m still really trying to wrap my mind around because my own cultural upbringing has me in a “western” view of thought.

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Why You Should Never Say “I Don’t Have Time”

Have you ever said “I don’t have time?”

Have you ever been stressed out because you’ve felt like “You didn’t have enough time in the day to get everything done”?

I’m sure you have at some point or another, in fact, I’ll even admit that I have more times that I would like to admit, but it is a train of thought that our ego-driven minds like to lead us to as humans.

I came across a quote a while back that basically made the point of: Did famous and successful people have more time than you?  Of course not, so you should never say that you don’t have enough time — everyone has been given the exact same tools, we just have to utilize them most efficiently for ourselves.

Now, from a psychological standpoint I find this cycle that we often place ourselves in to be rather interesting.  We say to ourselves or those around us “I don’t have enough time” yet the paradox is that the thought itself is what causes a greater separation from the present moment. Well silly, of course you don’t think that you have enough time… because you’re wasting all of your precious time by worrying and thinking that you don’t have time! (I have stopped and told myself this on a few cases, upon a quick realization).

The truth is that we are supposed to live for the moment.  We are supposed to take things in, experience it, and move on to the next thing.  We are not supposed to attach ourselves to people or things.  We are not supposed to dwell on emotional disappointments and hurts.  We are only supposed to experience them in the moment, accept them, and move on to the next experience with optimism.

Perhaps some of you may be able to remember back what life was like as a young child.  At a young age, when we still looked to the world with curiosity and endless possibilities, we spent our days playing with toys after toys.  It was exciting to dig a hole outside.  We loved riding in a wagon to the grocery store.  And if we ever fell down, we cried and let it all out and then moved on to the next thing.  We never started crying 2 days later about the bruise on our knee — heck, that was in the past!  So why does it matter, right?  It was at those ages when the days felt long, we were content, and felt rather fulfilled, despite we didn’t actually do all that much activity (as far as “work” goes).

Perhaps this is one of the concepts that was missed in “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” is this: That those with the most success in life and positive impact for humanity are those that, not only know how to manage time effectively, but live in the cycle of: take in the moment, experience it, and move on to the next thing.  It’s a matter of living with an eye of continuous curiosity and adventure and to not focus on any one thing for too long.

Yes, that may sound a bit ADD or ADHD, but aside from popular belief it is actually a positive way of living.  I can say from experience that you feel much more alive and overall fulfilled. And, as a result, you become even more intuitively in-tune because you are living so much in every single moment.

Now, I’ll admit, it’s been easier for me to become re-attached to this way of being when I’m really doing things I enjoy (like exploring a different country and culture while I’m on vacation), but nevertheless it is still possible to be achieved in day to day life.

I know this is certainly much more easier said than done at times, especially once you are already on the self-defeating cycle, but if you take a day of “I just want to adventure and enjoy X, Y, and Z and I want to be so busy and occupied with it that I have no time to think” it can have a very positive effect on you.

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4 Scary Dream Symbols for Transformation

We have all experienced a nightmare at some point in our lives.  Some are only mildly disturbing while others cause us to wake up in the middle of the night in fear of falling asleep again.  It is most commonly the dreams that are dark and dreary where we are being chased by someone or there is a gun or knife involved that can scare us the most.

Though these dreams can be very unpleasant and leave us feeling very weary, they are actually a blessing in disguise.  It are these terrifying dreams that are calling us to make changes in our lives and can signify a transformation from our current way of living.

Here are some common dream symbols that can strongly signify a need for change in our lives:

1.  Knife.  If you are holding a knife, this can signify feeling a need to defend yourself out of anger or aggression.  It may very well mean that you need to, quite literally, “cut ties” with some people in your life and make ties with those who will influence your growth.  It can symbolize a need to end your current relationships (personal or work related) and start a new.  If someone else is holding a knife towards you then this can signify a fear of the other person.  You may be feeling intimidated and you are allowing yourself to feel inferior.  This can call for a need to set your boundaries, gain confidence, and stand up for yourself more.

2.  Gun.  If you or another person is holding a gun, or perhaps even a gun is shot, this can symbolize the need to end something in your life.  Something may need to be “put to death” so that you can start a new.

3.  Graveyard or cemetery.  If you are walking through a graveyard or cemetery it can signify that you are currently in a period of mourning or dealing with sad emotions.  A relationship may have recently ended and you are trying to adjust to life without them.  It may also represent parts of yourself that you may have disregarded.  You may have talents and opportunities around you that you are not currently utilizing to achieve your full potential.

4.  Dead people.  If you are talking to or associating with dead people in your dream this can signify that you need to break yourself free from your current relationships.  There may be some people around you currently that are negatively impacting you and you need to set you boundaries and find others to be around.

From a tarot card perspective, these dream symbols easily represent the same messages that lie behind the Death card of the Major Arcana.  This card, along with these symbols, are telling us to allow something in our lives to “end” so that we can create something new, fresh, and ultimately better for our own evolution.

Related posts:

Deciphering Pre-Cognitive Dreams

Numbers in Dreams

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The Spiritual Growth of Living Abroad

It is nearly the middle of August, which symbolizes for me the year mark that I have now spent living abroad as an expat.  At times it doesn’t feel like a year and other times it feels even longer.  If you probably would’ve told me 10 years ago that I’d be living in Korea, I probably wouldn’t believe it.  I suppose that, on some level, I always felt that I was meant to travel and live in various places but I certainly wasn’t expecting Korea to be on that list.

To say the least, and as many would expect, it has been challenging.  I mean, I’m living in a country where I don’t speak the native language nor do the people here really know my native language well.  On top of that, compared to other countries I’ve visited, this one doesn’t always seem to favor diversity.  The natives stare at you, but you can’t blame them to some extent because you do kind of stand out like a sore thumb.  However, I have been told that their reactions are different to those of China or Japan, though I suppose I will find out for myself soon enough.  Truly, I can’t really blame them because Korea is a country of a long unfortunate history of invasions along with their country still separated to this very day.

On a personal level, this transition was perhaps a bit more stressful than some.  I came here after coping with a lot of opposition, where I was challenged to really set my boundaries and not give in to emotionally toxic actions.

It’s been a long journey in only one year and I would be lying if I said that I still didn’t have frustrations daily.  It’s the days when you have a craving for banana bread, but you don’t own an oven nor can you find the proper ingredients to make it.  It’s the days when your boss tells you that you have to sit at a desk for 8 hours that day, but they give you no work to do.  It’s the days when all you want is a regular cup of black coffee, but they give you an instant coffee mix that has more cream and sugar than coffee.  It’s the days when you just wish they would stop driving so stressed-out and crazy.  It’s the days when all you want is your students to sit down and listen, but they won’t because you’re not Korean.

It’s been challenging every day, though some more so than others.  Anybody that has lived here understands and it’s hard for anyone who hasn’t to get a full grasp of the experience.

As far as the community of other foreigners, I can fortunately say that there is a lot of diversity.  Within a year, I’ve met and made friends with Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, South Africans, English, Irish, Scottish, Egyptians, Mexicans, Italians, Germans, Greeks, Russians, Japanese, Chinese, Thais, Filipinos, fellow Americans, and more.  The mixture is of people working here, visiting here, or simply traveling.  It’s not too difficult to realize when you are out and about, especially in a city area, that the whole world is at your finger tips.

For myself, I can say that I knew this on some deeper level coming in.  In fact, I still distinctly remember during my first week here coming to the realization of: There is no one that I know here.  I can be whoever I want. I can do whatever I want.  Yet, at the same time, there was a realization that I am completely responsible for my own happiness.  

Was this realization the only thing that I needed?  Certainly not.  In fact, it has been and continues to be a process of uprooting my own self-defeating beliefs and overcoming my own inner obstacles and challenges.  However, I can say that by making this decision I have learned and grown more in a year than I would have in 30 years (or perhaps more) had I stayed in the same area in the US.

When you pack up all of your belongings into two suitcases and travel to a place where you do not know a single person you are setting yourself up for a potentially great spiritual transformation.  You are setting up your outer environment for a great shift in your perspective.  Your limiting beliefs come up and smack you in the face and you realize how little power they truly have.

Now, does this happen to every expat?  Unfortunately no.  Though I have met several that have allowed transformations and changes to happen, some are for the better and others for the worse.  There are also those who hold such strong beliefs that they would rather argue with someone from a different culture (or perhaps not even a different culture) about it rather than have a respectful, understanding, and accepting discussion.

It has been quite an interesting 12 months and it has proven to me the amount of limitations we can place upon ourselves due to our culture, upbringing, or our own fears.

Do I still struggle?  Certainly.  Balance seems to have become a key ingredient here, as it is easy to become frustrated with lack of resources that I would normally have in the US (Come on, why can’t we have a gym that doesn’t cost $80+ a month that actually has some strength training equipment?).

The key I’ve mostly found to maintaining balance here is this: I can’t always have everything that will please me in my external environment at all times.  There will always be good and bad.  There will be a day when I will greatly miss bibimbop, shabu shabu, green tea ice cream, speaking Korean language, the gorgeous mountains of Korea, and their ridiculously “poppy” K-pop music.  It’s just another piece to the song, a chapter to the book, and there’s truly a little piece of heaven everywhere in the world.  Savor it.  Enjoy it.  Love it.

Korea in the Spring

Tarot Card of August 2012: The Moon – How to Overcome Fear

I have recently decided to do a short video at the beginning of every month for “Tarot of the Month”.  For August 2012, the card I received was the Moon.  Check out my video below for a deeper understanding of the moon and some tips on how to cope with the challenges this card represents.

I hope that was beneficial to you!  If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions then feel free to comment below!

The Purpose of Dreams

A wolf is chasing you through the forest.  You reach a wall with no where to go.  You turn around and the wolf, terrified, and knowing that this wolf is going to eat you.  The wolf jumps, you close your eyes and put up your arms to protect yourself.  And THEN… you wake up.

Even awake you still feel distraught and a bit restless, and you kept help but wonder What on earth was that about?  We’ve all felt this way at some point or another.  We’ve all had some really weird dream that left us puzzled and wanting to have the dream interpreted so we know what it meant.  Not only do I find the dreams themselves interesting but even our response to them the next day by being so influenced to find answers to the meaning behind it.  Because it is such a non-concrete topic, science hasn’t quite established any one “true” explanation as to why we dream, yet we can see by human reaction that what we dream must be important or else we wouldn’t have so many emotions and motivations tied to them.  So why do we dream?

I feel like this could probably be taken two routes: psychology and spirituality, yet both of these routes are interconnected whether we really wish to believe it or not.

From a psychological standpoint, many dream theories can be based off those of Carl Jung, who believed that dreams are a reflection of personal challenges that our subconscious is working through.  Jung believed that our dreams and the symbols within them are different aspects of our psyche.  The psyche includes all aspects of us, which includes the self, persona, ego (how we act and project ourselves), personal unconscious, shadow (the part of us we repress), anima/animus (male/female counterparts), and collective unconscious.  Instead of going into any complex detail with each one of these parts (which gets rather confusing and I honestly don’t even fully understand), I will keep this simple by saying that the dreams are signs of what psychological aspects we need to become aware of and work through at that point in time.  The dreams are a reflection of the anxieties, fears, and blocks we are creating for ourselves that is influencing us to repress a deeper part of ourselves.

This is very interrelated from even a spiritual standpoint, though, of course, when you consider more of the spiritual aspect of it you consider that these dream messages may not only be coming from a part within you but also from a source higher than you.  You can consider that these symbols, messages, and feelings are in fact coming from your spiritual guides and angels.  Personally, I’ve always found this to make the most sense.  After all, many historical texts and religious texts like the bible even document receiving messages through dreams.  Whoever said that people could back then but then “suddenly” can’t communicate with your guides and angels today?  Your guides, higher self, and angels are always trying to communicate in anyway that they can with you all the time for guidance, but you just have to allow their messages to emerge by becoming more aware of them.

So, to sum up this initial post on the topic of dreams: We dream in order to become more aware of the blocks that we are causing ourselves.  Dreams are filled with symbols and messages that are there to notify us that many of these emotions and limiting voices that we are hearing in our heads are truly, in fact, only in our heads!

To give you a better understanding of this, I’ll give you a recent example of mine.  For the past few days I’ve been under a debate about where to spend my summer vacation.  I had one idea in mind that I was very excited about, but I kept having anxieties and doubts about following through with this idea because I heard that it was a very expensive place to go to.  So for a few days I kept debating on the idea and putting it off in making any flight booking.

The dream that I had after a couple days was this:  It was Christmas and I was with my parents and brother.  I believe I was also a younger child again in this dream.  For some reason, we didn’t have any “official” plans for Christmas Eve yet.  We went to church and there was a posting for a concert event that was going to go on that evening.  I was excited about it and so was my brother so we told our parents that we wanted to go.  It cost $300 and my parents said no because they thought it was too expensive.  Instead we went to a movie theater though I was disappointed and still wanted to go.

Though there are still some symbols in the dream that I’m not 100% sure of the meaning (so if anyone could offer additional insight it’d be appreciated!), the general message I gathered here was that I was excited about something but I was allowing my inner voices (in this case, of my parents) to make me believe that it is not okay to spend money on trips and events that I’m really excited about.  So should I allow these inner voices to block me in doing things that I find potentially exciting and fulfilling?  Probably not.  I also feel like the “3” in the 300 symbolizes a need to stay focused of a sense of harmony and balance that are three-fold.  For me, what comes to  mind are things such as: “mind, body, spirit”, the holy trinity, “past, present, future”, and the 3 of Cups tarot card.  Of course, that can vary upon the person and what emotions and feelings they have associated with that type of symbol.

A lot of times if we just sit back and reflect on the general emotional tone of the dream, that alone can provide us with the main message that the dream is trying to convey.

The Limitation of Thought

I recently came across a post with a thought pointing that “Emotional negativity is the cause of a lack of intelligence”.  I kind of laughed to myself a bit, in reflecting on how this frame of thinking is so common among particularly young guys that I have dealt with or even older guys (though that, of course, depends on the individual).  I can’t blame them for it because I can empathize with their perception, but at the same time it seems to ring within me this reminder of trends that males can have toward the female gender.

Are emotions the problem?  Or the better question is: Is intelligence the answer?  Yes and no to both — for a number of reasons.

First, emotions should never be looked to as a problem of any sorts.  The second we look to emotions as a problem then that causes greater inner resistance (no matter who you are or what your view or opinion is because you are, therefore, making a judgement).  This then causes us to want to PUSH away those emotions and feelings rather than accept them for what they are in that moment and releasing them.

Can intelligence help to reduce the effect of negative emotions?  Sure, because being more aware of your thought pattern can certainly reduce the chances of having some negative emotional outburst.  If you stop the limiting or negative thought from occurring first, then chances are you might not have any bad emotions.

But yet — it STILL becomes more complicated than that, especially in the case of women because so many of us are highly empathetic.  All of the empaths out there can easily walk into any room and pick up on all the good and bad energies of those in that area.  I can certainly relate to this more than I’d probably like to admit some days.  By living in a country where the people have a high stress level, are CONSTANTLY rushing, and often subconsciously have negative views and beliefs of foreigners, it can be quite emotionally draining some days and it’s not even so much my own thinking that initially triggers it (I may get discuss that farther in another post).

Now, jumping back for a moment, is mere intelligence the answer?  Not really because that only does so much.  You may understand how to run and drive the car but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll never get into an accident.  There is another level that has to be reached.  Also, I often feel that a high focus on mere intelligence often reduces the amount of compassion and understanding that a person has for others — and so it entraps the knowledgeable one equally as much.  The second one has that simple thought of “I know more than you” it now places that person at the same level as the one with the negative emotions.

In the general population, what we so often fail to realize is that it is the thoughts in themselves that are causing this seemingly never ending cycle effect.  It maintains this limiting frame of mind of “them versus me” — but it’s completely an illusion.  It’s all rooted in our ego and shadow selves.

So what’s the first step to breaking the cycle?  As Eckhart Tolle stressed in his books and what is the base in various meditations is the clearing of the mind.  To realize what thoughts and beliefs that you have developed through your culture and experiences.  To realize that by focusing all your thoughts on the past and the future is weakening you.  This is the initial cycle to break — at least for mostly men anyway, as I can’t help but continue to feel that women need something else to counteract this cycle.

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