I am what I choose to become

Carl Jung

Sigmund Freud said that bad things happen to us in our childhoods and these upset us when we get older.

But Carl Jung said, hang on a minute — everything in nature is part of evolution. So if this happens then there must be a good evolutionary benefit from it. What could that be?

Jung realised that different people get upset about different things — what might upset one child will have no effect on another. So in a sense we must ‘choose’ what we get upset about: which events we react to and which ones we don’t.

This interpretation says that the reason we get upset about things now isn’t because of the past, it’s because we care about those things and we also cared about them when we were children. When we were children we had little power to control our worlds, but now we are adults we can choose how we respond.

In a world where so many messages are telling us what we should buy and who we should be, the things we got upset about in our childhoods are a gift: they show us what we really care about, who we truly are, and what, as adults, it is most important for us to build instead.

Yes the past happened, but it is over. It doesn’t define who we are. It shows us who we want to become.

As Carl Jung said:

“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.”

If we combine learning from our past with learning from our future and learning from the people we most admire, we can create a deeper understanding of what drives us. This will provide motivation and focus to get us through this time of change that will not only inspire us but also show us what we most want to create and enable us to become who we truly are.

Can you remember a traumatic event from your childhood? (We all have one.) Would you like to build a world that is the opposite of that? Have you started to find ways to put that into practice?


Inner Leadership is a framework and a set of tools for building inspiration in a time of change.

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