The Collective Unconscious and the Year Ahead

We are oblivious to the majority of hidden messages in the conversations we have with our friends, colleagues, family, loved ones and strangers. We are even more unaware that they are usually centred around beginnings or endings and sometimes both. You are contemplating that? Thinking back on the last discussion with a friend or the two minute phone call to a colleague? What was the topic? Troubled relationship? Difficult client? Problematic child? No matter what we discuss, we are always hoping something will end and something new will save us from frustration, pain and suffering.

No conversations are more focused on this than the build up to, and then settling into, a new year. The hopes for closure of the “bad” that hounded the 12 months passed are usually showered with wishes for a new, brighter and much easier time ahead. Once the hours draw near to the start of a fresh and neutral year, we all begin to fight our own demons of the collective fears that are dragged into the new year.

We know the story … a man goes to the office and does not put on his brightest face, yet nothing is really wrong at all. As he walks through the building people begin to question him. You look sick, are you feeling alright? You do not have that same glow as you always do, are you sick? Go home, you look sick. He begins with a bold fight for his truth and tells his colleagues that he is merely having a day of contemplation. No one lets up and why should they, because as more concerned colleagues point out their perception of his well being, the less he is able to stand up against the collective conclusion of his health. By lunchtime he is thinking they may be right; he does feel a slight headache coming on and within hours he has forgotten his own truth and fallen into the trap of perception and opinion, dragging himself home in a very sickly state.

We are always given choice, yet we decide on a path according to the consequences we are most concerned about. Personally, I concern myself that people will perceive me as arrogant and a “Little Miss Know-it-all”, especially when I am chatting with potential friends, clients, students or lovers. I watch myself intently when around my family and have to constantly remind myself that my friends do not always need my advice on how to heal their lives. As the year has crept on though, in order to save myself from being sucked into the collective unconscious of 2009, I have chosen to speak up and pull everyone up with me, instead of allowing anyone to pull me down.

Recession, saving pennies, global chaos, new governments, property prices plummeting, food shortages – we have discussed this at nauseam as we panic about the impact these issues will have on our lives.

I have a dear friend in London who is out of work at the moment, as are a number of his friends. Wishing him a happy new year was one of the saddest conversations I have had in a long time. “What is going be happy about it?” was his response to me. He went on to point out that a good number of his friends were out of work and that some had been trying to find jobs longer than him. He was preparing himself for a year of poverty, hand me downs and loss of dignity and pride. Why? Because the world had told him this would be his fate and because the collective unconscious of 2009 is one of unemployment, chaos, financial struggle and depression. He could have chosen to find me annoyingly positive, yet he listened to everything I had to say, without argument, without doubt, without fear. He believed me for a moment in time, because I was the candle in the window drawing him to a place of warmth, hope and opportunity.

I dropped my own fears and slipped on my very bold and outspoken hat of the teacher and I “lectured” him:
In the early 1950’s scientists in Japan were studying the monkeys on the island of Koshima and were feeding them sweet potatoes in order to study them closer. One day a young monkey was not happy with the sand that covered her sweet potato and went to wash. Over a period of time, she had taught her mother and some younger monkeys to do the same. The younger ones then went on to teach their parents. Before long, the majority of monkeys on the island were washing the potatoes before eating them. Although this intrigued the scientists, this was not the surprising phenomenon. That came in the discovery that, at a certain point, when a given number of monkeys were washing their potatoes, the same species of monkey across the ocean also began to wash their food. This discovery became known as the hundredth monkey syndrome and paved the way for the understanding and proof of the existence of a collective unconscious amongst people.

I had his attention at this point and went on to explain that everything within the human paradigm has a collective consciousness that we blindly adjust to. Families have their own, so do religions, schools, sports clubs, countries, businesses, cultures, women and men. Teenagers around the world are behaving the same and parents around the world fear the same things – all because they are unaware that they are but a number in the collective mindset of the world.

“What’s the point of this collective unconscious?” he asked.

“To drag you so deep into it, knowing that our human instinct is to survive. Knowing you will eventually sink so low that you will hopefully choose to start swimming against the stream in order to save yourself”, was my reply.
Sadly, not enough people have the courage or the belief in themselves or the gift of the collective unconscious to attempt to save themselves and they forget their one human instinct – to survive.

I know my friend wants to survive. I know he wants to do much more than survive. He wants to live and laugh and be all that he dreams of. What better way than to find himself amongst the chaos of a collective opinion that employment is scarce and that 2009 is going to be bleak?

The collective unconscious is very real and so is the financial turmoil, economic crisis and global uncertainty the world over. The point of this journey is not to deny the realities of this world, but to rise above them and set yourself aside from the masses who will suffer the recession and will battle to maintain the lifestyle they are accustomed to.

The gift of the collective unconscious is to show you that it might be the reality of the world around you, but it does not have to be the truth of who you, because you are an incredibly resourceful and determined individual. Just because you neighbour has forgotten to fight, does not mean that you need not put on your armour and head out into the world in order to claim what is rightfully yours – happiness, success, love, fulfillment and joy.

Chances are, the hope that I am right is more real than the belief that you have the power to overcome the obstacles ahead. Right now, that’s a great place to start. Rather believe me than the 99 other individuals around you. You are that powerful that you could tip the scales. You could be that hundredth monkey or you could come to where I am standing and start the count to a new, brighter and more positive collective view of the world in a year that has begun with its share of turmoil.


Through the gift of conversation and through the power of your opinion. And your opinion is this: There are abundant opportunities for new beginnings, new ways to tackle your obstacles and fears. There are magnificent ways to end the fear, the uncertainty and the darkness. Talk about this, to everyone you know, tell them about this phenomenon called the “Hundredth monkey syndrome”. Become the listener in the conversation and learn to hear the echoes of the collective mindset of those you share your fears with. The more you actively listen, the more you will hear the unconscious churning of words that people blindly spew out when talking about their lives, their beginnings and their endings.

I do not have to tell you to do much else than listen, because in that, you will awaken something within your Soul that will feel more determined to stand up against the voices, to fight the negative opinions of the year ahead and to run into the great unknown with nothing else but the willpower to escape the noise of the collective.