I am what I choose to become

Sigmund Freud thought that the memories of bad things that happened in our lives could sometimes return to haunt us, messing up our lives.

But for Carl Jung this explanation made no sense. Everything in nature, he reasoned, is part of evolution. So if this type of thing happens so often, to so many people (as it undoubtedly does), then it must bring some kind of benefit

What could that be?

Jung realised that different people get upset about different things. An event that upsets one person might have no effect at all on someone else. And different people often interpret the same event differently. 

In a sense, he realised, we each choose the events we get upset about and what we imagine those events mean.

This means that whatever upsets us is a gift of gold. In a world filled with messages telling us what we should buy, how we should feel, how we should live, who we should vote for, and so on, the things we get upset about show us what we care about the most. They show us, out of everything that is happening in the world, the things that affect us most. 

The things that trigger us are reminders. They remind us of our priorities. No matter what anyone else might say, the things that upset us show us who we are. They show us who we most want to become: the opposite of whatever has happened. 

And as Carl Jung said, 

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

What seemed like a problem to Freud is actually an opportunity. It’s another signpost pointing us towards whatever will most inspire us to move through this time of change with passion, energy, and enthusiasm.

And when we work to transform our emotions and achieve what matters most to us, we take another step to becoming antifragile.

Can you think of something that really upset or enraged you? How much energy and enthusiasm would you have if you were working each day, with others, to build a world that is the opposite of that?

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

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(And remember: you can’t learn to swim just by reading about swimming, you also need to do the practice.)

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