As many of you already know, I’m inspired a lot by Jung’s work. This week, I wanted to cover seven Jung terms as I understand them, because I see them mentioned a lot out there; from the collective unconscious and the shadow, to the persona and the animus.

Transcript below!

Pick up my brand new book! Men’s Work: A Practical Guide To Face Your Darkness, End Self-Sabotage, And Find Freedom:

Did you enjoy the podcast? If so, please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or Podchaser. It helps us get into the ears of new listeners, expand the ManTalks Community, and help others find the self-leadership they’re looking for.

Are you looking to find purpose, navigate transition, or fix your relationships, all with a powerful group of men from around the world? Check out The Alliance and join me today.

Check out our Facebook Page or the Men’s community.

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts  | Spotify


All right, team. Welcome back to The ManTalks Show. I’m Connor Beaton. Today we’re gonna be diving into seven principles of the Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung. Now, if you’ve been following my channel for any amount of time, you will probably know that I am a sort of avid and active student of Mr. Carl Jung. I really appreciate the work that he has. It’s interesting because in the psychological field, some people see it more as philosophy. Some people refer to Jung’s work more as a sort of philosophical nature than psychological, which you can debate that. I’m not really here to have that conversation.

I just wanna lay out seven of the principles for you and talk about how they might apply to your own work, your own betterment. So let’s begin, first and foremost, with the personal unconscious. Jung and Freud, and a number of psychologists, were talking about the concept of an unconscious, the concept that there’s a part of you that you are unaware of, that you’re unconscious to, and this just makes sense because our conscious mind can’t hold at any given time all of the data and all of the information that is available to us. And so the way that I like to think about this is like a computer, right? Your computer has a hard drive, it has programs, it has software that it’s operating. And at any given time, your computer isn’t accessing the entirety of the data that’s available to it, nor is it accessing the entirety of the data of the internet that it could connect to, which we’ll get to in a moment. So hold that analogy.

So the personal unconscious is kind of like all of the data, imagery, messages, memories, experiences, and impulses that you are currently not aware of, right? Impulses that you’ll have in the future, instincts that you’ve had in the past, memories that you’ve had in the past. So that’s a sort of accumulation of the unconscious, the personal unconscious within each individual. Now, the important aspect of the personal unconscious in many ways is that through Jung’s work and one of the other principles that I’ll talk about later, a lot of the work dreamwork, being able to question your motives, your decisions, was about coming into contact with the things that you didn’t know about yourself. The sort of deeper, under the surface aspects, this massive sort of unconscious that you can’t really see, but you kind of know is there. And so that’s the personal unconscious. So that’s Number One.

Concept Number Two is the collective unconscious. Now, the collective unconscious is interesting because Jung believed the human psyche is made up of three different parts: the ego, the personal unconscious, and the collective unconscious. And you can get into the archetypes and some of the different variants of this, and we’ll talk about more of them in a second. But the collective unconscious is fascinating because it’s the universal part of the human psyche that contains archetypes, right? So Jung talked a lot about how the unconscious mind operates in dreams, in archetypes, and in mythology. So in many ways, it operates quite different from how the rational logical mind works, which is very linear, very straightforward, very direct. Whereas the unconscious mind works through association, right?

So you might be trying to sort through some relational problem in your marriage or in your life and you’re trying to think about it in a very straightforward way. Maybe you and your wife or your girlfriend haven’t been sexually active in a few weeks and you’re trying to think about, “well, what’s happening in the context of our relationship that’s causing this sexual disconnection,” whereas your unconscious mind would represent that in a more mythological structure. So you might have a dream, let’s just say, about an archetype of the feminine, right? Some woman would show up in your dream and that woman maybe is a little apprehensive of getting close to you, but you feel this desire to be with her. And then you go on some quest to procure something that allows her to see that you are safe or that you’re grounded or strong or some version of that. And so, in your unconscious, a lot of what operates in that space is gonna be symbolic in nature. It’s gonna be archetypal in nature.

Now, the thing that I think is important about the collective unconscious, and I’ve talked about this a few times, and this is just my structure, but I feel like it’s helpful for me to maybe lay out here, is we interact with the collective unconscious on a daily basis now, which is a very new structure within the human experience. It’s a very new experience, and the reason why I say that is that every day that you log on to Facebook or Instagram or any social media platform, and any day that you go online and onto the internet, that is an extension, I believe, of the collective unconscious where you are interacting with the unconscious emotions, feelings, thoughts, beliefs, reactivities, social programming, familial programming, cultural programming of other people.

And we got some of this as a human species throughout time, but for the most part it was very limited, right? If you traveled, if you met people that were outside of your culture, or just when you interact with people that you were close to, whether it was a hundred years ago or a thousand years ago, sometimes you would be interacting with their unconscious mind and thus interacting with the collective unconscious.

But now we’re inundated with this data of unconscious reactivity. You put a tweet out and suddenly 50 people are hostile towards you, and a hundred love it, and 200 aren’t too sure. And you’re getting this bombardment of information and data from people that is oftentimes very unconscious. Their instinctual feeling about it, their belief systems, their cultural programming – all of that is thrust at you all at once.

And so to use that computer analogy that I was talking about before, the collective unconscious, you can think about if your mind is like the part of the computer, and then your unconscious is all the information on your computer. The collective unconscious is the internet, right? It’s being able to access this massive, vast type of data and information that refers to society and culture, and human behavior, and a whole bunch of other stuff that we’re starting to figure out.

The next one is the ego. So Principle Number Three or Structure Number Three is the ego. The ego has been talked about by many psychologists and psychiatrists and therapists. And I think for this purpose, the ego as Jung talks about it, is really the part of the psyche that mediates the demands of the unconscious coming into the conscious and the external world.

So the ego is this sort of manifestation of the part of you that’s trying to express itself out into the world, trying to temper your expression, based on how you might fit in, how you might be perceived. And so the ego is really responsible for your sense of self and your ability to function in the world.

So ego in our modern culture has got a bad rap. When you say that somebody has a big ego, it usually is a negative connotation, right? They’re arrogant, they’re maybe condescending, et cetera. But having a healthy ego is actually a very important part to psychological health, right? In the spiritual world, we talk about abolishing the ego or seeing the ego as a kind of garb that we wear, but it’s still an important element to being able to interact with people around you, right? So if you had zero ego, if you had literally obliterated your ego and you had no context for that, you would have a very hard time actually interacting with people on a regular basis, because how we interact is often through the lens or the filter of our ego.

So some of the times when I’m actually working with men, one of the things that we’ll talk about is reconstructing, or altering our ego, or a kind of ego improvement, because sometimes we as men, or we as human beings, have these sort of deep insecurities that we are operating from, and so our ego is very fragile. It’s wounded. It maybe perceives itself to be very weak and meek. And so sometimes, part of the work that we actually need to do from a psychological standpoint is reinforcing our ego, is building and developing a healthy quality of ego that has a certain level of competence and confidence.

Whereas on the other hand, when you’re working with people who have maybe narcissistic tendencies or are very arrogant or cocky, then working to humble that ego in a healthy, constructive way, not deconstructing it or obliterating it, which sometimes we try and do, which can be very psychologically jarring and maybe even damaging. What we want to try and do is humble that ego and start to temper it.

The next is the persona. So the persona you can think about as the mask that the individual presents to the world. So this is like a little bit of your identity. It’s the part of the ego that is concerned with how a person is perceived, how that person belongs socially or culturally. And the persona is often shaped by social and cultural expectations. So you can think about the family that you grew up in, the expectations from that family. Maybe the expectations from the religion or the culture that you grew up in, right? If you grew up Roman Catholic, in an Italian family, there’s certain expectations and social and cultural norms that will have influenced your persona and the kind of mask that you actually put out to the world and represent.

The next is the shadow. Now, I’ve talked about the shadow extensively. But essentially the shadow is the part of our unconscious mind that contains the elements of the individual or the individual’s psyche that we are unwilling to accept or understand, or even be aware of. So these might be your insecurities, they might be your inferiorities, your fears, your doubts, the pain that you experienced from the past; these are the elements of the self that we have tried to disconnect from. So you might disconnect from your anger. You might disconnect from assertiveness, you might disconnect from sadness or a grief or whatever it might be in an effort to try and fit in or assimilate, or belong in your family system or culture environment or whatever it is.

Jung believed that this shadow was really the first big step that we had to take in order to individuate, which I’m gonna talk about next, in order to find a sense of wholeness. He actually went so far as to say – I’m just gonna read off a quote for you from a lecture in 1937 where Jung spoke at Yale. He said:

“The new man must bear the burden of the shadow consciously. For such a man knows that whatever is wrong in the world is in himself, and if he only learns to deal with his own shadow, he has done something real for the world. He has succeeded in shouldering, at least an infinitesimal part of the gigantic unsolved social problems of our day.”

And so here you can see this statement that Jung is making, that the shadow, and this is why I talk about shadow extensively. It’s why it’s the bulk of my work, because until we can reconcile with or understand our own shadow, it’s very challenging to be able to make any kind of meaningful impact outside in the world, and that actually by tackling our own shadow, our own darkness – however you want to put that, we are doing something deeply meaningful for ourselves, our families, and our communities.

Okay, two more pieces and then we’ll close off.

Individuation. This is a concept that Jung created and it’s really the process of becoming an individual or integrating the various aspects or elements within your psyche to move towards cohesive wholeness or a more comprehensive type of wholeness. So shadow work is one of those first steps, right? Let’s just say you’re disconnected from your anger, you’re disconnected from your assertiveness. That causes a kind of psychological harm and dis-ease that you operate from because you probably don’t set boundaries and you don’t tell no, you don’t say no to people.

And so by starting to integrate that anger and integrate these parts of yourself that you’ve tried to discard or dislike, you create a deeper sense of wholeness; and wholeness is health, in essence, from a psychological standpoint.

The last thing that I wanna talk about is the anima and the animus.

Jung, in the last component was this: anima and animus, and it really represented the masculine and feminine qualities within all of us. And here, Jung kind of enters into an alchemical standpoint, right? In alchemy, they talk about how, if you read Hermes Trismegistus, I can’t remember the book is called right now, off the top of my head. But in Alchemy, they talk about how everything has a quality of gender and everything has a quality of polarity, and gender being masculine and feminine. And so Jung took this and created the concepts of the anima and the animus. And essentially within men, the animus is your conscious mind. That’s the masculine, that your forward orientation is the masculine; and then your unconscious is the feminine, it’s the anima. And in women, it’s reversed. And so I’m gonna dedicate a whole video to getting into that because it’s a little bit more complicated, but it’s wildly fascinating. And I think it talks about it and it explains a lot of the dynamics that we’re experiencing today.

So, fire me off a message on Instagram @ManTalks. DM me. Let me know what you’d like to get into, what you took, what you learned, what you enjoyed. Let me know what concepts you’d like me to elaborate on, what questions you have. And until next week, as always, this is Connor Beaton signing off.