Individuation is the process of making what’s unconscious conscious, to improve as a person by accepting and including the unconscious and repressed elements of our personality. Encouragement on this process however, is not as common as it should be.
Looking around online at type, the advice is almost always to focus on your strength, and stay away from your weaknesses. I’ve written about this before, here. And, as I wrote before, there is a strength in focusing on what you’re good at. And I am not suggesting anything else. But that doesn’t mean we can freely repress it just like we want.
To focus only on the strengths of our type is a huge mistake, since we in many ways are governed by our weaker functions, and since they are repressed, we cannot control them. Since they are an unconscious process for us (super-id), we are not aware or even in control of how those functions works, which puts us at a strong disadvantage.
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.”
This quote, from Sun Tzu’s Art of war, isn’t just something we can apply to strategy, business and warfare, but to ourselves as well. The repressed parts of our psyche is something that Jung called the shadow. To be able to avoid the shadow to influence too much of our life, even govern it, we must be aware of it. Jung has another quote about this.
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate”
This is essential, as we otherwise will have little control over who we are, and we cannot bring out a healthy use of our stronger functions. We cannot focus on our strengths anymore, because of the negative influence on them from our weaker ones.
One of the most obvious examples in type when it comes to this are NTs. They are somehow a lot more proud of this fact than many STs – namely that they are thinking types. Many NTs has a tendency to repress their feeling functions, to a fault. When the feeling function is repressed, so is its influence on us. Repressing it however, is not something that makes it cease to exist. That’s virtually impossible. Instead, repressing it pushes it out of our conscious, we choose to ignore it and turn a blind eye to any consequences that might come.
Of course, this looks very different in different types. But even if the repressed function isn’t a feeling one, it’s essential that we understand it, or it will have a devastating effect on who we are. Repressing a function creates a very one-dimensional individual.
Instead, what we have to do to grow is to accept and embrace our lower functions. This does not mean that we should rush into it head first and try to use it as we use our ego function. This is just as damaging. However, we should look at it, try to make it conscious and accept it, both its existence and influence. To grow, this is very important. Anything else hinders our development and ability to become better.