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  • Writer's pictureKari Wetherill

What is Jungian Life Coaching?

"The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are." -C.G. Jung

My purpose as a Jungian Life Coach is to empower you to discover who you truly are. You can call this process enlightenment, becoming whole or the journey to the True Self. I like to use the term Cosmic Self because it reflects our ever-expansive nature. Jung called this journey through the psyche Individuation, and he has given us a roadmap which helps to guide us on a clear pathway through the otherwise dense and allusive layers of the Inner/Cosmic Journey.


Like enlightenment, Individuation is a process not a destination. It is an ongoing journey with many layers for us to move through.

The purpose of this journey in Jung’s words is to “make the unconscious conscious”. This process moves you through the fog of obscuration, bringing the parts of you that have been hidden to the surface so they can be examined and then integrated. Each time you bring a part of you out of hiding you are bringing it to light. When you become aware of this hidden part of you, you are now able to integrate it. With every integration you become more whole.

The Psyche

From a Jungian perspective, your Psyche refers to all parts of you, both conscious and unconscious. It is the totality of who you are (at least as far as your form here on Earth is concerned). There are many parts to your psyche; perhaps you've heard of the more common ego, persona and shadow.

The psyche can be broken down into two groups: the conscious (the parts of you that you are aware of) and the unconscious (that which you are unaware of). The conscious parts of you are the ego and the persona. The unconscious parts are all of the rest including the shadow. This means that even if you think you know what is in your shadow, by definition it is not your shadow. Your shadow is that which you are not aware of. It lies in your unconscious.

There are two parts to your unconscious mind: The personal unconscious and the collective unconscious. Your shadow is in your personal unconscious as well as the anima/animus archetype. Beyond the personal unconscious is the collective unconscious. The collective unconscious is common to humankind as a whole. Every human has the collective unconscious as a part of their psyche. It encompasses the stories and experiences of humanity throughout all of time. This is where the archetypes live.

For the purpose of this blog post, however, I will keep this discussion to the ego, persona and shadow.

The ego

Your ego is your sense of identity. It gives you the feeling of "I".

It is very important that a person builds up a strong, healthy ego in the early part of their life. Your ego has kept you alive. It has taught you how to survive and how to be accepted in society. Without it you would be lost. We are not looking to get rid of the ego, nor can we. You simply need to realize that you are not your ego and see if for what it truly is: merely a function of your mind.

Your ego itself has two functions: survival and social acceptance. Its job is to keep you safe and comfortable, and it does a very good job! But when you think you are the ego, you are now limiting yourself to a very small part of your psyche. This can make the world appear very big and foreboding.

At all times your ego is seeking comfort and safety. Like all forms of energy, when it is threatened it will fight for its life. When you make the decision and set the intention to move beyond the ego, it can put up some very powerful walls. These walls are erected to keep you in your comfort zone, because when you step outside of your comfort zone you are now directly threatening the existence of your ego.

The persona

In the effort to keep you safe and accepted by society, your ego helps you build up a persona. You can think of your persona as the mask that you wear or the suit you put on to present yourself to the world. It is the role that you are playing on the stage that is Life.

When you identify with your persona, you are again shutting yourself off from the much larger, ever-expansive YOU. It is important to become aware of your persona so that you can learn how its past conditionings have been limiting you. You are then free to make conscious decisions outside of these boundaries.

Not only does your persona impress itself on the world and those around you, it also conceals your true nature; it keeps the real you hidden from others as well as yourself.

Like all other dual aspects in this world, the persona has a polarity: the shadow. When a persona is created, a shadow element is simultaneously created.

The shadow

The shadow is the counterpoint to the persona. It helps to balance it out. What doesn’t fit into the persona goes into the shadow. For instance, if you wear the persona of a nice person you may have in your shadow boundary setting. If you tend to be a people pleaser you may have in your shadow the confidence to say no. Let's say that you have being accepted in your shadow. This could limit your persona to dimming itself so as not to stand out, even if it is a "good" way.

The shadow is not necessarily negative. It is simply called the shadow because it is unseen. It is hidden from your view. It is in the dark. The shadow can hold negative as well as positive qualities within it. Either way, the qualities in your shadow are limiting to your true nature. They have been created so that your ego can prop up your persona and keep you comfortable.

While your ego wants to keep you from discovering and integrating your shadow aspects, your unconscious wants you to shine the light on them as its prime motivation is for your growth and wholeness. However, since the shadow by definition is that which cannot be seen, it can be tricky to bring it to light.

Here are 3 ways that you can shine the light on your shadow:

  1. Work with your triggers. When you are ready for deep inner work, your triggers become your new best friend because they are pointing you to what is in your shadow. It is therefore seen by inference. Since you cannot see your shadow directly you project it onto others and then become triggered by that projection. This is a great time to bring awareness to your feelings!

  2. Visualizations and active imagination. When you bring intention and imagination together, and combine it with a relaxed receptivity, you are inviting the unconscious to speak directly to you. In this way, you can begin to speak the language of your unconscious and hold a "dialogue" of images, thoughts and feelings which allow you access to your shadow.

  3. Dreamwork. Dreams are the gateway to your unconscious. When you develop a relationship with your dreams and begin to learn their language, you can begin a conscious communication even when you sleep! By setting your intentions and reflecting upon your dreams you can discover areas that have been hidden in your shadow. You can even experience emotions in your dreams, which allows for the process of integration!


Integration is the blending or merging of a part of you into the whole. For instance, once you become aware of what is in your shadow, you are now able to integrate it. By bringing it into your awareness, you now have the power to merge with it, to embody it, to bring it into the light of your wholeness.

Insight is only the first step. You can become aware of what's in your shadow and yet its integration can still be allusive. You must access your emotions for true transformation. As Carl Jung puts it, "There is no change from darkness to light or from inertia to movement without emotion." Insight is what happens when you become aware of what is in your shadow. Integration happens when you let it be a part of your awareness and then make a choice to bring it into your life.

Awareness is the key to accessing your emotions. Only when you are aware of the stories that your ego is telling you and the emotions that arise due to those stories, are you empowered to begin making changes. After awareness comes embodiment. Embodiment is when you put those changes into practice. You are practicing making a conscious choice in how to present yourself and respond to situations. This usually is accompanied by feelings of discomfort as you go against your past conditionings. However, this discomfort is a good sign! It means you are changing your old behaviors and creating new conscious choices.

In Summary

You can think of your ego as propping up your persona and holding back your shadow. As mentioned previously, your ego wants to survive and its job is to keep you comfortable. This is a very powerful energy force and it can be quite allusive. When your ego puts up walls it can very easily go unnoticed. As soon as you begin to threaten your ego with change it will begin to defend itself and it is quite common to mistake the ego's defense mechanism for the feeling of intuition.

Your persona is a very limited part that you play. It is balanced by your shadow. The key to your journey of individuation is awareness. Becoming aware of the roles that the ego and persona play in your day to day life is a huge step. When you begin exploring your shadow by way of your triggers, visualizations and/or dreams, you have now opened the door to your Cosmic Self. There is an ever-expansive YOU waiting to be brought out of hiding!

A Jungian Life Coach is here to be your mirror and reflect these shadow elements back to you, so that you can learn to see beyond the walls of the ego. As your Jungian Life Coach, it is my intention to hold space for you so that you can learn the language of your own unconscious. When my intention for your empowerment combines with your intention to grow, an incredible magnetism begins. This magnetism magnifies your journey to your wholeness and allows for a clear and direct transformation.

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