June 24, 2019

Surviving a Personal Apocalypse — Part 4: Judgment Day

rhodes(Since we just took a holiday break, you might want to go back to Parts 1, 2, and 3 and refresh yourself on the topic of “personal apocalypse.” Go ahead; we’ll wait.)

Jungian psychology identifies observable, predictable patterns of human experience called “archetypes.” One of them is the Apocalypse archetype. Like the others, it plays out both individually (personal apocalypse) and collectively (public apocalypse).

Jungian scholar Edward Edinger identifies four phases of the Apocalypse archetype: The first is revelation, which we talked about last time. The second is judgment, today’s topic.

No, this isn’t the Last Judgment we’re used to hearing about, when all wrongs everywhere for all time are thrown into the Lake of Fire, and us along with them. Instead, as global trends analyst, futurist, and Jungian student William Van Dusen Wishard describes it, this is the “judgment of existing beliefs and institutions against the background of the new truth” we’re given in the revelation phase.

In other words, this is the phase where we find out how our personal beliefs and behaviors, plus the operative dynamics of the important institutions in our lives, all combined to create the mess we now find ourselves in. We’re going to get a private briefing on the topic, and we’re not going to like what we hear. If we thought revelation was a tough pill to swallow, then our personal judgment day is like chugging cod liver oil.

As Edinger says, the judgment phase “can be so overpowering that it can threaten complete demoralization.” No wonder: nobody likes to be told that the thoughts and practices they relied upon colluded with the institutions they trusted to bring about the collapse of their world. That’s never happy news, and hearing it NOW makes it less so: this is after all the end of the world as we’ve known it, and we’re not exactly having a good time here.

As a result, we usually respond by blaming others or dumping ourselves into the tank of guilt and shame and remorse. But really, there’s no need for that. There’s no moral judgment here, no need to punish ourselves or anyone else for what we’ve done or what happened to us. Forgive, yes; punish, no. It’s just that there’s a new sheriff in town, and things are going to be different around here. That’s all. Nothing personal.

Still, the deflation is hard to overcome. We weren’t trying to screw things up, weren’t trying to get sick, get laid off, get hit by a train… things just turned out that way. Maybe so, but if we want to move ahead with rebuilding our post-apocalyptic lives, we need to accept responsibility for what just happened. No, we didn’t and don’t control everything, but we do control what we believe, how we behave, and the choices and responses we make, and now that the leases we had on all of those have been terminated – however unfairly – it’s time to renegotiate. Entering those negotiations with an understanding of how we got ourselves here gives us our best shot at restoring the trust, hope, confidence, and security we’ve lost.

Welcome to Judgment Day. Thankfully, it’s not the end of the process.

To be continued.

Kevin Rhodes is a lawyer in private practice and a registered mentor with the Colorado Supreme Court’s CAMP program. He offers career coaching for lawyers and leads workshops for a variety of audiences, including the CBA’s Solo and Small Firm Section and the Job Search and Career Transitions Support Group. You can email Kevin at kevin@rhodeslaw.com.

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  1. barb cashman says:

    Happy New Year Kevin. I think the apocalypse is about liberation. Beliefs, identities, whatever doesn’t work anymore and that we have to “die” to what we thought we were. This e quote attributed to Confucius comes to mind: What the caterpillar calls the end of the world the master calls a butterfly. … Richard Rohr calls this wake up call falling into the second half of life.

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