Neglecting any one area of your life can lead to dissatisfaction with your story and imbalances that can no longer be ignored. As a Jungian analyst, I have seen many clients who achieved success in one area of their life but were not successful in resolving issues in other areas. They continued to be dissatisfied with some of their current stories’ chapters on health, emotional well-being, relationships, career and finances, spirituality, or service to the community. Eventually, these dissatisfying chapters drew their attention. They were experiencing the consequences of focusing solely on what was working in their lives. To achieve balance, you have to address all the chapters in your story and work at making them satisfying.

When one area of your life is bearing fruit, you may find yourself turning your attention away from those aspects of your life that are not working out quite as well. It can be uncomfortable to look at the disappointing or distressing parts of your story. It feels good to look only at the positive. However, if one area of your life seems to require a great deal of energy and attention, and you neglect it, you may develop problems you can no longer ignore because they pose a threat to your well-being and security. Then, the consequences of imbalance—paying too much attention to this and not that—are experienced.

There’s a scene in the classic movie Kramer vs. Kramer in which Meryl Streep’s character is trying to explain to her husband, played by Dustin Hoffman, that she’s leaving him. He is so caught up in the distractions of everyday life, and so used to not truly looking at her or listening to her, that he doesn’t even know there is a problem until she stands by the door with a suitcase and announces, “I’m leaving you.” When he finally focuses on her, he can’t believe what’s happening. This scene of shock over what should have been an obvious outcome to neglect resonates for many people who are taken by surprise by a spouse, boss, or friend who says, “Things haven’t been working out for a long time.” Then too, a health issue that is causing subtle symptoms may get brushed aside for so long that you truly are taken by surprise when a medical test reveals that you have a serious condition.

Using shamanic and Jungian techniques for accessing your unconscious mind can alert you to areas of your life you have been neglecting. Your inner wisdom, hidden from your conscious mind, can help you see what you need to address. Regularly use Jungian dreamwork or shamanic journeying, a technique for altering your consciousness and perception so that you can access and work with hidden insights as well as archetypal energies that are influencing you. These are just two techniques that can be invaluable for remaining alert to areas of your life you have not attended to as much as is necessary.
Once you’ve been alerted to imbalances and neglected needs, you may decide that it is time to look more closely at those areas. If you feel you have no choice but to continue neglecting your health, finances, relationships—or any aspect of your story—temporarily, it may be because you have hidden fears and resistance you need to face and learn more about. By using shamanic and Jungian techniques, you can uncover and release obstacles to achieving balance. Then you can make new plans for yourself. You might change your priorities and put more effort into a particular chapter of your life for a time before returning your attention to your work and finances, for example. You might set small, achievable goals, such as devoting an evening a week to reconnecting with friends, family, and neighbors, or to spending time in spiritual practice. If you tend to focus too much on one aspect of your life, you can set limits for yourself and make a plan for checking on how you are spending your time.

Sometimes, looking at your planner, calendar, or even your email list can help you see that you are dedicating more time to an area of your life than you intended. However, your conscious, rational mind can talk itself out of the truth about imbalances. Often, messages from your unconscious mind will give you a much clearer sense of whether or not you are neglecting an important aspect of your life.

Pay attention to any images that come to you in your dreams or when you are meditating or doing shamanic journeying. Because symbols can have many meanings, don’t be hasty in trying to analyze the images that come to you. You can set the intention to encounter the symbol again in a shamanic journey, or in a dialogue you conduct with this aspect of your consciousness. This dialogue is a form of Jungian active imagination, and I describe this process in detail in my book Change Your Story, Change Your Life. Having made your own unique interpretation of a symbol or image, you can then consider more universal meanings. Some of the more common symbols of imbalance are a scale, a symmetrical symbol, and a figure or object precariously balanced. A cat might symbolize the balance between independence and togetherness while a dolphin or fish might symbolize the balance between taking individual action and going with the flow of others and the currents surrounding you.

So think about your own experiences of the symbol or figure. Get in touch with your feelings about how you interacted with it—or how you relate to those people or objects in your everyday life. Be open to messages about having too much of something in your life and too little of something else. Be willing to listen to the insights hidden in your unconscious mind.

Have you ever received a powerful, symbolic message about your need to refocus your attention and energy? What form did that message take, and did you heed its call? What were the results?

Author's Bio: 

Carl Greer, PhD, PsyD is a practicing clinical psychologist, Jungian analyst, and shamanic practitioner. His shamanic work is drawn from a mix of North American and South American indigenous traditions and is influenced by Jungian analytic psychology. He has worked or trained with shamans on five continents and trained at Dr. Alberto Villoldo’s Healing the Light Body School, where he has taught. Carl Greer is involved in various businesses and charities, teaches at the Jung Institute in Chicago, is on the staff of the Lorene Replogle Counseling Center, and holds workshops on shamanic topics. He is the author of the new book Change Your Story, Change Your Life: Using Shamanic and Jungian Tools to Achieve Personal Transformation by Carl Greer © 2014, Findhorn Press. Now available at and and