Dr. James Hollis: How to Find Your True Purpose & Create Your Best Life

Dr. James Hollis: How to Find Your True Purpose & Create Your Best Life

Dr. James Hollis (00:00:00)

  • Dr. James Hollis is a Jungian psychoanalyst and author of over 17 books on the self, relationships, and creating a fulfilling life.
  • His books include "Creating a Life: Finding Your Individual Path" and "The Eden Project: In Search of the Magical Other."
  • He has also written about resilience in his book "Living Between Worlds: Finding Personal Resilience in Changing Times."
  • Dr. Hollis believes in asking ourselves certain questions regularly to understand who we are and what we truly desire in life.
  • These questions include:
    • What do I really want?
    • What are my core values?
    • What are my strengths and weaknesses?
    • What are my passions and interests?
    • What is my purpose in life?
  • Our family dynamics, trauma, and attachment styles can influence our life trajectories.
  • These factors can sometimes lead us astray from our true path.
  • Dr. Hollis provides practical tools to help us get back on track.

Sponsors: Mateina, Joovv & BetterHelp (00:02:14)

  • Huberman emphasizes that this podcast is separate from his teaching and research roles at Stanford.
  • The podcast aims to provide free information about science and science-related tools to the general public.
  • Sponsors of today's podcast:
    • Mateina: loose leaf and ready-to-drink yerba mate with high antioxidant content, appetite-suppressing effects, and potential neuroprotective benefits.
    • Joovv: medical-grade red light therapy devices with clinically effective wavelengths and a safe and effective dose of red and near-infrared light.
    • BetterHelp: online therapy with licensed therapists, offering support, insights, and improved emotional, relationship, and professional life.
  • Dr. James Hollis, a Jungian psychoanalyst, discusses finding one's true purpose and creating a fulfilling life.
  • Self-reflection is crucial for understanding one's true self and purpose.
  • It involves looking inward, examining one's thoughts, feelings, and motivations, and becoming aware of one's strengths and weaknesses.
  • Childhood experiences, both positive and negative, shape one's personality and life choices.
  • It is important to understand how these experiences have influenced one's current beliefs and behaviors.
  • The "shadow self" refers to the hidden or repressed aspects of one's personality, often containing negative traits and desires.
  • Acknowledging and integrating the shadow self is essential for personal growth and wholeness.
  • True purpose is not about achieving external success or fulfilling societal expectations.
  • It is about discovering one's unique gifts, passions, and values, and aligning one's life with them.
  • Authenticity is key to living a fulfilling life.
  • It involves being true to oneself, expressing one's genuine thoughts and feelings, and living in accordance with one's values.
  • Fear, self-doubt, and limiting beliefs can hinder one from pursuing their true purpose.
  • It is important to challenge these obstacles and have the courage to step outside one's comfort zone.
  • Every individual has the power to choose their own path and create their own life.
  • Taking responsibility for one's choices and actions is essential for personal growth and fulfillment.
  • Finding one's true purpose and creating a fulfilling life is an ongoing journey of self-discovery and growth.
  • It requires patience, persistence, and a willingness to embrace change.

Self, Ego, Sense of Self (00:05:57)

  • The self is a mystery governed by instincts, seeking expression and healing.
  • The ego is a collection of experiences that differentiate the individual from others.
  • Complexes are clusters of energy that can temporarily take over ego consciousness.
  • Therapy helps individuals realize they are not defined by their experiences or circumstances.
  • People often enter healing professions due to their sensitivity to others' pain.
  • The unconscious mind can rise, take over provisionally, and spin out its program before receding back into the unconscious.
  • Unconscious factors can significantly impact our decisions and actions, and the more unconscious they are, the greater their autonomy will be.

Unconscious Patterns, Blind Spots, Dreams; Psyche & Meaning (00:13:59)

  • To find your true purpose and create a fulfilling life, become aware of your unconscious patterns and behaviors.
  • Seek honest feedback from those around you to identify self-defeating or hurtful behaviors.
  • Pay attention to your dreams for insights into your unconscious mind.
  • Our energy systems support us when we align with our true purpose, but misalignment can lead to boredom, burnout, and depression.
  • Dreams and a sense of meaning are crucial in finding our true purpose.
  • The soul represents our organic wisdom and purposeful expression. Listen to its wisdom and question external expectations.
  • In the second half of life, prioritize finding your true purpose over mere adaptation.

Second Half of Life, Purpose, Depression (00:21:56)

  • The real question is what does the soul want of me, not what the world asks of me.
  • People who find and live out their soul's purpose are the most admired in history.
  • External stimuli and societal expectations can lead us away from our true purpose.
  • Many people only seek therapy when their internal conflict reaches a point of significant suffering.
  • Depression can be a sign that our psyche is withdrawing its approval from our current agenda.
  • At the bottom of depression, there is often a task or issue that can lead to a new and more fulfilling journey.
  • Depression can be a positive force that leads to self-discovery and a more meaningful life.
  • It can prompt individuals to reevaluate their life purpose and make significant changes.
  • Depression can be a catalyst for personal growth and transformation.

Dr. James Hollis: How to Find Your True Purpose & Create Your Best Life (00:00:00)

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  • True purpose is not about achieving external success or recognition.
  • True purpose is about living a life that is authentic and meaningful to you.
  • True purpose is about discovering your unique gifts and talents and using them to serve others.
  • True purpose is about finding your passion and pursuing it with all your heart.
  • Self-reflection is essential for discovering your true purpose.
  • Self-reflection involves looking deeply within yourself and exploring your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs.
  • Self-reflection helps you to understand your strengths, weaknesses, and values.
  • Self-reflection allows you to identify your passions and what truly matters to you.
  • Obstacles are a natural part of the journey to finding your true purpose.
  • Obstacles can include fear, self-doubt, limiting beliefs, and external challenges.
  • Overcoming obstacles requires resilience, persistence, and a willingness to learn and grow.
  • Overcoming obstacles leads to personal growth and a deeper understanding of yourself.
  • Creating your best life involves living in alignment with your true purpose.
  • Creating your best life involves making choices that are consistent with your values and passions.
  • Creating your best life involves taking risks and stepping outside of your comfort zone.
  • Creating your best life involves surrounding yourself with positive people who support your goals.

Tool: Daily Reflection; Crisis (00:27:08)

  • Daily reflection is important for understanding the deeper meaning of life.
  • People often don't prioritize reflection due to distractions and busyness.
  • A crisis is often needed to prompt people to reflect on their lives.
  • It's recommended to spend 15 minutes each morning meditating and reflecting on dreams.
  • Evening reflection is also beneficial for understanding the stories one is living.
  • The first half of life is often spent reacting to external events and circumstances.
  • This reactive living is not generative and does not lead to a fulfilling life.
  • It's important to develop the ego strength to reflect on one's life and make conscious choices.

Families & Children, Permission & Burdens (00:31:47)

  • To achieve personal growth and self-awareness, individuals must confront and examine their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, taking accountability for their actions and impact on the world.
  • Living an authentic life requires breaking free from societal pressures and pursuing what truly matters, finding meaning and purpose beyond external success or material possessions.
  • Meaningful insights and self-discovery come from within, and individuals should seek what is most significant to them rather than blindly following cultural norms and expectations.
  • The speaker's transformative journey began with an appointment with their soul, which they realized during a period of depression, leading to a challenging but ultimately transformative process.

Complex Identification, Self-Perception; Social Media & Borderline (00:37:27)

  • Hardship often stimulates self-reflection necessary for change.
  • Self-reflection is important for understanding internal drivers and complexes.
  • People often identify with their complexes rather than their true selves.
  • Being honest with oneself and others can be challenging and may not always be well-received.
  • Social media can be a borderline organism, fluctuating between adoration and disgust.
  • Self-perception is often inaccurate, and it's futile to try to convince others of who we believe we are.
  • Social media is the emerging property of all individuals and can be unpredictable and emotionally manipulative.

Daily Stimulus Response, Listening to the Soul (00:41:55)

  • Reflecting on dreams, journaling, meditation, and therapy can help connect with the self and understand inner thoughts and emotions.
  • Positive feedback reinforces certain behaviors, while negative feedback leads to avoiding those behaviors.
  • Social media interactions often involve friction-based interactions.
  • There is no one-size-fits-all formula for self-reflection.
  • Psychotherapy, meaning "to listen to or pay attention to the soul," can take various forms depending on the individual.
  • Activities like working in nature, using hands, creative enterprises, dream work, meditation, etc., can help step out of the daily stimulus-response routine.
  • Self-reflection allows for rest, restoration, and recollection of the self, preventing unraveling and promoting meaningful choices.

Exiting Stimulus-Response, Loneliness, Burnout (00:45:40)

  • Engaging in activities that fully absorb attention, such as drawing, can help individuals gain insights into themselves and exit the stimulus-response cycle.
  • Despite increased connectivity through electronic media, loneliness has become a significant issue, leading to the creation of cabinet-level posts for ministers of loneliness in countries like the UK and Japan.
  • Finding moments of solitude and self-reflection is crucial for combating loneliness and accessing one's deepest resources for self-care.
  • Social media, while useful for education and learning, can be addictive and unsatisfying as it operates on a stimulus-response mechanism without providing true fulfillment.
  • Spending time alone, even for short periods, can be highly beneficial for self-care and personal growth.
  • Exiting the stimulus-response mode allows the unconscious mind to reveal itself more fully, providing space for acknowledging and expressing inner thoughts and emotions.
  • Meditation can reveal surprising insights about oneself.

Meditation & Perception, Reflection (00:51:19)

  • Meditation is a perceptual exercise that aims to enhance focus and understanding of one's unconscious processing.
  • Meditation can be done through various methods such as focusing on a specific location, open monitoring meditation, or through activities like listening to music or working with the hands.
  • Meditation helps still the internal traffic of thoughts and allows for presence in the moment, leading to a more authentic response to stimuli.
  • Meditation is a tool that can help individuals become more present and aware of their unconscious processes, leading to more intentional and authentic responses to life's challenges.
  • To find one's true purpose, it is important to go inward and reflect on one's values, passions, and unique gifts.
  • It is also important to be open to receiving guidance from others who can help identify blind spots and provide support on the journey of self-discovery.
  • The process of self-discovery and purpose-finding is ongoing and requires continuous reflection and exploration.

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Recognizing the “Shadow” & Adulthood (00:56:15)

  • The shadow refers to the hidden or repressed aspects of our psyche and group affiliations that may contradict our values or self-worth.
  • Shadow issues include human capacities for jealousy, envy, aggression, and greed.
  • We can become aware of our shadows through introspection, observing our dreams, and noticing recurring negative patterns in our lives.
  • Projecting our shadow onto others prevents us from taking responsibility for our own issues.
  • Recognizing and owning our shadow is crucial for personal growth and societal well-being, as it allows us to stop blaming others and take responsibility for our actions.

Socialization; Family & Life Journey (01:02:48)

  • Shadow sides exist in everyone and can lead to confusion, especially in large groups where consciousness levels are lower.
  • Addressing one's shadow can be challenging due to the perception of attacks, the reflection of others' shadows, and the comfort of finding like-minded people.
  • Excessive socialization can interrupt natural expression, leading to depression, compensatory dreams, projections, or illness.
  • Leaving one's family of origin can be necessary for personal growth, even if it goes against protective messages received in childhood.
  • The inner quickening of life's energy and service to something greater is essential for living a fulfilling life.
  • The first step in finding your true purpose is to leave home and start the journey.
  • Initiatory experiences can be challenging, but it's important to keep moving forward.

Relationships & “Otherness”, Standing Your Ground (01:09:04)

  • People tend to either adopt or resist their parents' traits, rather than responding in a balanced way.
  • Self-awareness and self-ownership are crucial for personal growth and becoming a fully-functioning adult.
  • Complex relationships can lead to growth and enlargement through encountering the otherness of the other.
  • Balancing legitimate dialogue and compromise in relationships is important, while also standing up for one's well-being and integrity.
  • Individuation is essential for personal growth and understanding one's purpose.
  • Relationships help individuals break free from self-referential systems and avoid getting caught in a cycle of complexes.
  • Striking a balance between self-sacrifice and commitment to a shared project in a relationship can lead to constructive growth and mutual fulfillment.

Marriage, “Starter Marriages” & Evolution; Parenting (01:15:51)

  • Many marriages end in divorce because people enter them without a deep understanding of themselves.
  • People often marry and have children young, and their circumstances and perspectives change over time, leading to the need for renegotiation or dissolution of the relationship.
  • Starter marriages may evolve into good ones, but for many, they are based on unhealthy dynamics such as running from or replicating parents' relationships or insecurities.
  • Marriage is an institution with good intentions but is sorely tested over time.
  • A long marriage does not automatically indicate growth and development of the individuals involved.
  • Parenting is difficult because parents often assume they know what is best for their children, leading to conflict as children try to establish their own identities.
  • It is important to pay attention to what a child wants to express rather than assuming they will replicate their parents' lives and values.
  • Despite the challenges, it is perhaps surprising that 50% of marriages survive.
  • Surviving marriages may not necessarily be good marriages in terms of personal growth and development.
  • It is important not to judge individuals based on their marital status or family dynamics, as there may be complex factors at play.

Shadow Issues, Success & External Reward, Personal Growth (01:19:37)

  • Living authentically and in accordance with one's true self is more valuable than seeking societal approval.
  • Individuals who remain true to themselves, even in challenging circumstances, are often admired and celebrated.
  • Celebrities and public figures may not always portray their authentic selves, and it's important to remember that everyone's journey is unique.
  • The essence of life lies in discovering and expressing our true selves, rather than solely pursuing personal desires or societal expectations.
  • Dealing with past issues and personal growth involves an ongoing process of outgrowing challenges rather than attempting to solve them.
  • Achieving external success and material wealth may not bring fulfillment if it conflicts with our inner values and desires.
  • Nurturing friendships and relationships is crucial, especially during difficult times.
  • True fulfillment comes from finding a purpose that resonates with our inner selves, aligns with our values and passions, and brings genuine meaning to our lives.
  • External success alone does not guarantee inner satisfaction or psychological well-being.
  • Ignoring or suppressing our true needs and desires can lead to negative consequences such as depression or relationship problems in the long run.

Men, Alcohol, “Stoic Man”, Loneliness, Fear & Longing (01:27:59)

  • In the past, men were expected to be stoic, duty-bound, and mysterious, leading to rigid role expectations and self-definition through function and duties.
  • Today, men are more likely to seek therapy and express their emotions, recognizing the need to understand their own psyche and address their deep pain.
  • Men's culture is characterized by fear-based responses and competitiveness, while women learn to cooperate and support each other.
  • Men often fear expressing vulnerability or emotions associated with femininity, leading to estrangement from their inner selves and a sense of isolation and loneliness.
  • The women's revolution has prompted men to re-examine their own roles and expectations, leading to a deconstruction of societal norms and a search for individual paths.

Women & Men, Focused vs. Diffuse Awareness; Male Rite of Passage (01:37:33)

  • Focused awareness (gold directed behavior) and diffuse awareness (context and relationship) are two different modes of orientation to the world, and we need both.
  • Men and women share a common goal of finding their true purpose and creating their best life, and they can support each other in this process.
  • Many men today feel lost and are searching for meaning and purpose in their lives due to the dissolution of traditional masculine roles.
  • Men need to go through a psychological initiation process to leave home and find their own path in life.
  • Many men over 50 are interested in dealing with aging and mortality, as well as defining themselves beyond their work.
  • Pay attention to the things that cause a reaction within you, such as art or music, and value those experiences.
  • Numinosity is something that is defined by the individual and not by the collective.
  • Both women and men have similar goals in life, which is to balance their personal journey with the commitments of relationships.

Sacrifice, Relationships; Facing Fears (01:44:31)

  • Balancing sacrifice for shared values with the journey of individual spirit.
  • Symptoms can indicate misalignment with the right path.
  • The psyche may use depression to signal the need for a different life path.
  • Real conversations in a psychiatric hospital motivated a shift from academia to therapy.
  • Retreating into the life of the mind was an unconscious response to family and social context.
  • Fears from childhood resurface in midlife, but with the added capacity of adulthood.
  • Facing fears reduces the threat posed by the fears of others.
  • Avoiding fears leads to their manifestation in behaviors or blockages.
  • The importance of finding your true purpose and creating a life that aligns with it.
  • The need to balance personal values and relationships.
  • Facing and overcoming fears is essential for personal growth.
  • The value of real conversations and meaningful connections.
  • The journey of self-discovery and personal transformation.

Therapy, “Abyss of the Self”, Repeating Patterns & Stories (01:48:20)

  • The purpose of life is to understand ourselves, find fulfillment, and live a benevolent life.
  • In romantic relationships, it's important to balance self-sacrifice with personal growth for both partners, avoiding emotional stagnation while acknowledging the need for endurance.
  • Therapy is a modern invention that provides support and guidance for individuals navigating complex relationships, although it may be resisted by some.
  • Ancient mythological systems offered a sense of belonging and guidance within a collective experience, while conventional practices and belief systems may no longer be effective for some individuals.
  • Many people are living in accordance with internalized stories and messages rather than their own true selves, leading to patterns of behavior that can cause emotional distress.
  • Emotional well-being requires honoring both the life of the mind and the world of repressed emotions, as neglecting either can lead to distress.

Women, Career & Family, Partner Support; Redefining Roles (01:55:17)

  • Women should critically examine societal and cultural messages to ensure they support their personal growth.
  • Balancing career and parenting can be challenging for women, leading to feelings of missing out on important aspects of life.
  • Men should support their partners' growth, share household responsibilities, and avoid feeling threatened by their success.
  • Despite progress, many women over 70 have experienced significant restrictions and segregation.
  • The 1960s saw efforts to challenge oppressive societal norms, resulting in changes in attitudes towards interracial marriage and same-sex relationships.
  • Traditional role definitions are being questioned, leading to greater freedom but also ambiguity.
  • Ambiguity can cause discomfort and reactions such as racism and abortion debates.
  • The conflict lies between traditional roles and individuals' autonomy to live their lives as they choose.

Pathology & Diagnosis, Internet (02:01:40)

  • Social media has led to increased use of psychological terms without proper understanding or diagnosis.
  • The speaker, Dr. James Hollis, acknowledges his limitations as a non-clinician in diagnosing individuals or the internet.
  • There are real pathologies of the psyche and mind, but their underlying mechanisms are often mysterious.
  • Dr. Hollis invites a different perspective on these conditions from a psychological viewpoint that embraces biology.
  • As a therapist, Dr. Hollis emphasizes the importance of differential diagnosis to identify the specific type of depression a person is experiencing.
  • Reactive depression, which is a normal response to loss, should not be pathologized unless it lasts too long or interferes with daily functioning.
  • Biologically driven depression can be treated with medication, but therapy tends to be more effective in the long term.
  • Intas psychic depression refers to suffering caused by unaddressed parts of one's life.
  • Dr. Hollis criticizes the internet for allowing people to express their unaddressed issues without censorship or genuine dialogue, leading to the misappropriation of psychological terms.
  • Accurate diagnosis requires observation over time, as initial logical actions may not reveal the underlying motivations.

Life, Suffering & Accountability, “Swamplands” & Task (02:07:05)

  • Most people get their information from the internet or polarized media.
  • Labeling people with psychological diagnoses can diminish the suffering of those with actual pathologies and create catastrophizing.
  • Life is suffering, and the question is what does that suffering make you do or keep you from doing, calling for personal accountability.
  • Anxiety and depression often lead to feeling victimized, but the task is to address the underlying issues and recover self-worth.
  • Some people are willing to accept responsibility for their actions and work on themselves, while others want an easy fix and stay stuck.

Abuse & Recovery of Self, Patience, Powerlessness (02:11:32)

  • The litmus test for personal growth is whether someone focuses on blaming others or directs their efforts towards self-improvement.
  • The task of personal development involves introspection and self-direction, rather than criticizing others' actions.
  • Individuals who have experienced serious abuse in childhood must undertake the task of recovering a sense of self and purpose that is independent of their past experiences.
  • This process requires patience and acceptance of powerlessness, as it involves sorting through experiences and allowing something new to emerge.
  • Despite the challenges, it is possible to live differently by honoring what emerges from within and having the courage to address it.
  • The first step to finding your true purpose is to understand yourself, your values, and your passions.
  • This involves self-reflection, exploration, and experimentation to discover what truly resonates with you.
  • Once you have a good understanding of yourself, you can start to identify your unique gifts and talents.
  • Your true purpose lies at the intersection of your passions, values, and unique gifts.
  • To create your best life, you need to align your actions and choices with your true purpose.
  • This may involve making changes to your career, relationships, or lifestyle to bring them into harmony with your purpose.
  • Remember that finding your true purpose and creating your best life is an ongoing journey that requires continuous self-discovery and growth.

Living a Larger Life; “Shut Up, Suit Up, Show Up” (02:14:11)

  • To live a larger life, one must depart from their own story, culture, and family of origin.
  • The author found inspiration in biographies of famous people and was supported by teachers and a librarian.
  • The author's motto is "shut up, suit up, show up":
    • Stop whining and complaining.
    • Prepare and work hard.
    • Step into life and do the best you can.

Life Stages; Despair & Integrity Conflict (02:17:49)

  • Erikson's stages of developmental maturation describe the core conflicts individuals face at different life stages.
  • The second half of life involves integrating the self into the world while navigating life experiences and brain plasticity.
  • Life stages are influenced by roles, aging, and societal expectations.
  • The final stage of life involves confronting despair due to loss, mortality, and unfulfilled aspirations, while also embracing accountability and finding purpose in a changed environment.
  • Life is full of suffering, loss, and mortality, and the best way to live is to face these challenges with integrity and authenticity.

Death, Ego, Mortality & Meaning (02:25:00)

  • The human brain can adjust its perception of time, allowing us to focus on the present or imagine vast expanses of space and time.
  • Acknowledging our mortality is crucial for self-recognition and finding meaning in life.
  • Overemphasizing or underestimating our impact can lead to dysfunction or a meaningless life.
  • Mortality gives life meaning because our choices are finite.
  • The fear of death can be mitigated by accepting mortality and letting go of the illusion of the ego's sovereignty.
  • Ask large questions about life and your purpose, as children do.
  • Avoid getting too caught up in societal expectations and adaptive necessities.
  • When faced with a decision, consider whether the path will enlarge or diminish you psychologically and spiritually.
  • Ignoring these big questions and avoiding self-reflection can lead to psychological problems.

Dr. James Hollis: How to Find Your True Purpose & Create Your Best Life (00:00:00)

  • Dr. James Hollis is a Jungian psychoanalyst and author who has spent over 40 years helping people find their true purpose and create their best lives.
  • In this discussion, Dr. Hollis shares his insights on how to find your true purpose, overcome obstacles, and live a more fulfilling life.
  • Your true purpose is not something that you can find overnight. It takes time, self-reflection, and a willingness to explore different paths.
  • To find your true purpose, you need to start by asking yourself some tough questions:
    • What are your core values?
    • What are you passionate about?
    • What are you good at?
  • Once you have a better understanding of yourself, you can start to narrow down your options and find a path that aligns with your true purpose.
  • There will always be obstacles in your way, but it's important to remember that these obstacles are not insurmountable.
  • To overcome obstacles, you need to:
    • Be persistent.
    • Be willing to take risks.
    • Be open to learning from your mistakes.
  • Most importantly, you need to believe in yourself and your ability to achieve your goals.
  • Once you have found your true purpose and overcome the obstacles in your way, you can start to live a more fulfilling life.
  • To live a more fulfilling life, you need to:
    • Be present in the moment.
    • Be grateful for what you have.
    • Be kind to yourself and others.
  • Most importantly, you need to live your life according to your own values and not according to the expectations of others.

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