Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life by James Hollis

Sometimes, we find that we have been living someone else’s life. Our parents might be setting goals for us. Once in a while, after a moment of quiet reflection, you might realize that you hate your life. Are professional goals everything? Who wants to leave his reinforced castle and stand undefended? Walk through the dark wood. We are invited to live more consciously. Unknowingly, we might find ourselves in a dark wood. Feelings of boredom, depression etc start to surface. Has the suffering made us more human? Suffering can bring dignity. There are things that lie beyond your ordinary ego. The soul has been neglected. The words ‘soul’ and ‘psyche’ can be used interchangeably. The Self is not almighty. Sometimes, it can be sacrificed for the sake of meaning. It is crucial to live for meaning. Soul essentially means the intuitive relationship we have with our past reflections. It is what makes us human. We all have a deep search towards meaning. A life well-led should not constrict meaning. Meaninglessness inhibits the ability for one to lead a full life. Have a conversation between your conscious and unconscious. We need to attend the wounding of the soul and align our choices. The second half of life is about spiritual enlargement. The Self always changes and is fluid. One can experience harmony with the world. Invite your consciousness on a more meaningful journey. Do not simply serve your ego. It is necessary to bring the larger person back to the world. Many of us lack permission to lead our lives. We cannot choose not to choose. It is difficult to depart from the herd, but sometimes, this must be done. The fundamental question to ask is ‘what do the gods intend through me?’ Does the path enlarge or diminish me? The path of individuation is the way to go. Spirituality is important. We all need to find our journey through the dark wood.

Expensive Ghosts – How Did We Get to this Point? Do not live your life on automatic pilot. What forces are at work within you? We are not aware of what causes us to repeat stupid mistakes over and over again. How can you be in a world with yourself and your parents at the same time? Listen to what your soul desires. The Self reacts by turning to addictions. There is a will inside all of us. Institutions and norms burdened us in the first phase of life. Larger questions have emerged in recent time. We are older and better able to deal with life’s big questions. Whose script do we play? Most people react by being in denial, sticking to the old plan or turn towards a new projection. The last method is to resort to therapy. Does a mid-life crisis exist? There is a world of hurt inside those who suffer from addictions. Please treat ‘mid-life’ crisis seriously. Upon quiet reflection, one might see that what we sought ain’t really what we wanted originally. An identity crisis can strike anytime. An accident could suddenly highlight to you that your time on Earth is limited. There is no quick cure to an identity crisis. It is normal to try and cling on to what you know. Life must be remembered backward but lived forward. Start taking yourself more seriously. It is our life that we are after. Step onto the center stage. You must learn to read the wishes of the soul. Have the courage to follow your journey. Leave your old assumptions behind.

I shall now try to look calmly at myself and being to act inwardly, for only in this way will I be able as the child in its first consciously undertaken act refers to itself as ‘I’, to call myself ‘I’ in a profounder sense. – Soren Kierkegaard

Becoming Who We Think We Are. We are always flooded with nostalgia. Fear of the unknown forces us to revert to our rituals and conventional thinking. We have to consciously choose between anxiety and depression. We should embark on the next stage. The former is much better and it keeps us on the edge of our life. Ask yourself how much of your life has truly be yours? Are you compensating for your unrealized potential of your parents’ life? One needs to read one’s texture of life. Humans are not purely rational and we can’t make all the best decisions. We often think we are completely rational and are well-informed. Our experiences alter the way we see the world. Reality is often distorted by us. There are always unconscious factors at play. Be humble and acknowledge that you do not need to do everything. You can’t keep repaying old scenarios and then try to improve the situation. Build the right relationships with the gods. Harmonize yourself with the cosmos. Do not ignore the summons of the gods. We are expelled from birth into an unknown world. When we were young, we were unable to separate self from the world. We internalize the psychological atmosphere of our parents. As a kid, we might experience from overwhelment, which is the feeling of being of being powerless in an ever-changing world. There are 3 responses to this. The first is by disassociating with the world. This is known as the ‘avoidant’ personality. The second typical response is to seize control of the situation. We all try to control our environment. However, in reality, it is difficult to control it. There are many ways to accommodate. If you keep being nice, you may lose touch with life. We cannot rely on the world to meet our needs. Some people like to make self-defeating choices. Often, we want to overcompensate by seeking fame etc. This is known as the power complex. Narcissists have a will to power. Another common response is to seek reassurance from others. We tend to get what we unconsciously expect. Do not turn to means of getting reassurance from others. Each of the responses are found in ourselves to some degree. Learn to forget the presence of the past? No freedom is possible when consciousness is lacking. The psyche is never silent and it always requires attention and healing.

The Collision of Selves. It is easier to live small and not in a manner in which our soul demands. We need a formal and therapeutic relationship with oneself. It might take a big event in your mind before you look in a mirror and examine yourself. We see the world through our own lens. Do not succumb to early wounding and that be subjected to adaptive strategies. We have a tendency to mis-read the world. We often suffer from overgeneralization. Most of our day involves reflexive action. Even unconscious choices should be examined. Most of us do not listen to our psyche in the long term. The very damaged souls like to seek someone else to blame. You might lose your marriage, but you won’t lose your life. Depression is a huge indicator and must be monitored. We need to continue loving our children. If you truly love them, you will empower them and allow them to lead their own lives. Do not cling on too tightly to them. Even in a relationship, you should cover life’s tasks yourself. A close cousin of depression is boredom. The way out of depression is through it. The trick is to ask what the soul wants. Seize it back today. We need to define where the soul wants to go. Relationships tend to disappoint. They are constantly subjected to unconscious choices. We need luck, grace, patience and devotion. It is very easy to put the blame on our partners. We project our vision of our parents. We tend to count on our loved ones to make us happy. Our projections of others arise unconsciously. Projections can feel magical at the start. You do not project your soul onto your career. At the end, we suffer the rejection. Talk is cheap. We look for jobs that confirm doubts about ourselves. Learn to be humbled by knowledge and wisdom. Life is not fair all the time and it might betray you once in a while. Sometimes, we all lose our understanding with the world. There are always limitations that are beyond your control. Life is much more mysterious that we know. The world is magical and not very predictable. We are often caught between opposing values. In the second stage of life, we have to reframe our personal experiences. Ask spiritual questions of yourself. Do not ignore collisions between the natural self and provisional personality. Always understand that the soul is in charge.

None of us can help the things life has done to us. They’re done before you realize it. And once they’re done, they make you do other things until at last everything comes between you and what you’d like to be, and you’ve lost your true self forever. – Eugene O’Beill

Barriers to Transformation. Why do we ignore our wishes. Do not confuse between what life presents us and what we are meant to become. We all have to deal with consequences in life. Human beings all have complexes and experience psychological territory. Do not view the world with your lens. Humans like to think tit-for-tat and it is not healthy. Sometimes, you will realize that music can disturb your consciousness. Our psyche will also reflect on this incident. Sometimes, after the stimuli has hit, we tend to narrow our future and to over/under-generalize. There are always invisible forces at work. You need to choose your life. You need to be aware of the complexes are. You need to understand that they are unconscious forces controlling your past. Most of time, we are not fully aware of what we go through in life. Recognize the inner presence in your life. Fear governs a lot of our lives. Do not run from personal responsibility. Never be afraid to show up. Treasure the power of personal authority. It is very easy for lethargy to suck you in. Taking responsibility is sometimes more difficult than you can imagine. Children have lost their habit of reading. Do not sleep your way through life. Take responsibility and do not blame others.

In fact, a person who voraciously seeks outer validation through social position is one most likely to have large, unfinished business within. – James Hollis

Standing up to our fear is perhaps the most critical decision necessary in the governance of life and the recovery of the soul’s agenda in the second half of life. – James Hollis

The Dynamics of Intimate Relationship. Most of our life is going to be spent with the one we love. It can also be our deepest fantasy. We all dream of the perfect someone. Relationships are important for humans. Why are we preoccupied with them? Is there someone out there who will truly understand us? Almost all cultures believe in relationships and love. How does our ‘soulmate’ become surprisingly normal? Many are choosing not to get married. Two psychodynamic stratagems are present. They are projection and transference. Often, we often seek out people who are similar to us. What are we projecting on the other person? This stems from our past experiences etc. Sometimes, we like to exercise power over another. We are unconscious in such behavior. We are constantly scanning for someone who can carry our burden of unconscious agendas. The key is to understand ourselves better so that we do not leave others with a burden to carry. Moments of love are highly celebrated. Lovers are blind. Sometimes, when people change, it is because they are now different from our projections. We are drawn into a part of our psychological life. The weaker the consciousness of a person is, a more a person will get fixated in it. Do not remain captive of the power of history. Whatever moves us is likely to lie deep inside us. We secretly wish to colonize the other. To have a good relationship, you have to grow up. Both parties need to bring maturity to a relationship for it to grow. One must include and embrace differences for a relationship to grow. You need to like the person whole. Engage in the mystery of the other person. Encourage the other party to grow. Romance in the long run doesn’t work. Both parties will start wanting the same thing from the other. Romance doesn’t last for long, unfortunately. We need to tolerate this mystery. You need to establish a good relationship with the self. Growing up means taking responsibility for ourselves. You will learn that it is not possible to fully understand someone. Learn to love life as well.

The more we wish another person to repair our wounds, meet our needs, and protect us from having to grow up, really grow up, the more dissatisfying the relationship will prove over the long haul. – James Hollis

The Family During the Second Half of Life. Males were programmed to spread their sperm to ensure survival of their species. Females want to protect the young. Not everyone looks forward to returning to their families. Family love is not as romantic as it seems. The modern family, if not careful, can inhibit the developmental needs in the individual. Marriage is a security zone. Is there too much issue of conformity in the family? Is there room for individuals to grow?. In each family, it is necessary to ask whether the individual was allowed to follow their own course. Few parents are able to give unconditional love to their children. If the parent is afraid of growing, the child’s growth will be hampered too. The key for parents is to give their kids room to be different. Yet, you need to maintain and keep reasonable expectations of them. Not everyone should be a parent. It is a role that requires a lot of sacrifice. Some people are simply incapable of parenting. Parents should support their children’s choices in life. In general, home is the sanctuary in an intimidating world. If you need to provide care for your aged parents, also ensure that you will have time for yourself. Do not feel guilty if you cannot meet your parents’ needs all the time. The role of the family must be re-designed.

What usually has the strongest psychic effect on the child is the life which the parents…have not lived. – Carl Jung

The ultimate test of the family is not whether it provides safety and predictability, but whether or to what degree each person can leave it, freely, and return, freely, as a larger person. – James Hollis

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2 thoughts on “Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life by James Hollis

  1. Pingback: My top 10 success goals – Ursula Marinelli

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