I am what I choose to become

Sigmund Freud thought that the memories of bad things that happened 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. And an event that upsets one person might have no effect at all on someone else. And different people often interpret the same event quite differently. 

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

This means that the things we get upset about are gifts of gold. In a world filled with messages telling us what we should buy, how we should live, and so on, the things we get upset about show us what we care about the most. Of all the things that happened, these were the things that affected us the most. And if we got upset about an injustice, it’s because we care most about justice. If we felt upset about being alone or excluded it’s because it’s hugely important for us to be with other people or part of a team.

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

The means, as Carl Jung put it, that

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

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

And when we work to become what matters most to us, we take another step to becoming antifragile.

Can you think of an event 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.

You can sign up to daily posts here.

You can buy the book here and the workbook here.

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

Leave a Reply