Timing and Discernment on the Journey of Your Life

Sanderlings

You will have some important and pivotal decisions to make as you journey through your life. A decision at the right place and at the right time can make all of the difference. In biology and developmental psychology, there are windows of opportunity known as “critical periods.” An organism has the potential during these limited periods of time to actualize a potentiality, and if this window of time is missed, the growth, change, or the development of a necessary skill, like language acquisition in humans, is less likely or maybe even impossible.

The same can be true for you on your own unique journey through life. There are critical periods of time when your inner support, the support from the unconscious, is present and the time to make your move is now. If missed, there is the potential to miss this opportunity and to never have it back again. These missed moments can lead to a build-up of regrets and a life full of missed opportunities.

The successful businesswoman learns this about her decisions related to making the next move to grow her business. The artist, the investor, and the politician learn that when critical moments or opportunities are passed on, the specific moment is lost—sometimes forever. Creative moments related to a particular image or symbol, a feeling, or a “hunch,” do not always return.

A twenty-something year old woman learned about the importance of timing in her life and career. She had been accepted to a prestigious university for graduate studies and was preparing for the fall semester to start. As fall approached, she became more and more depressed. She entered psychotherapy, and started working with her dreams and learned more about her deeper feelings related to her choices of career. Rather quickly, she decided that graduate work in her chosen field was not the right decision for her and soon afterwards she felt guided from within toward a new career. Just as importantly, her depression lessened significantly.

After making this important decision, there was more flow in her life. After she started work toward a new and different career, she said that she noticed other life decisions coming easier for her and she had more focus and ability to concentrate upon the tasks at hand. Another way to put this is that she now was in sync with her own life’s timing and patterns, and she now had the support of her unconscious.

When you follow a way through life in which you have an intimate connection to your inner world, as manifested in dreams, synchronicity, and intuition, you are more likely to have direction to assist with proper timing and discernment on some of the more important decisions in your life.

The psyche has its own timetable and it is not uncommon for it to be at odds with the ego. This can be a hard lesson to learn and one that ideally requires a delicate balance between the desires of the ego and the goals of the deeper Self. Sometimes we are understandingly anxious and ready to plow ahead with the task at hand, especially when it is coupled with feelings of excitement. And sometimes this is exactly what needs to happen.

At other times, however, timing and discernment are required.  You must remember that the psyche knows your unique situation. It has its own perspective about your sense of urgency. It knows, for instance, that you are single, and ready to find a partner for life, but perhaps it is not time just yet. It knows that you dislike your job and that you feel ready for both a new challenge and a new job.

The timing and flow related to your next job, your next big “move” or life decision will work best when you have the support of your psyche and you honor its psychological “critical period,” and not that of the ego alone. This distinction is not always so clear cut. Yet, like the ebb and flow of the ocean tides, there are discernible patterns here, if the proper attention is given.

Consider the sanderling, a type of sandpiper. I see these birds regularly along Coastal California where they winter and frequent the beaches and tidal zone. You can watch them in small flocks dashing out following the water as the last wave recedes. These sandpipers then scurry about picking for food in the wet sand in the seconds before the next wave washes in toward shore. Then, as the next wave washes in, the small brown and white birds, dash toward shore again. Watching sanderlings in this quest for food is like watching a finely choreographed rhythmic dance.

The evolution of these small birds is quite extraordinary if you think about it. They have found their feeding niche, in the seconds long “critical period” between waves. They have a precise time when they must find food.

You can learn about timing from animals and nature. Like the sanderling, and the ebb and flow of waves, your psyche has its own pattern and timing. Dreams, intuition, synchronicity, and other unconscious material can help to guide you on the journey of your life. Similar to the feeding patterns of  sanderlings when they are dashing after a receding wave to find food in the wet sand, there are times when it is right for you to take a similar action in your life.

The outcome of taking a certain type of action at the time that you have inner support can make all of the difference. Timed to the patterns of the psyche, the results of a big life decision or a bold move can have more flow and seem more like a dance. This type of big decision feels right. On the other hand, you can make an important, arbitrary decision solely with the ego, and feel more like you are pushing or forcing your way through your life while having symbolic waves crashing down upon you. On the journey of your life, it is best to be like the sanderling, timing your dance through life to the rhythmic patterns of nature and psyche.

 

© 2012, Dr. Jeff Howlin. All rights reserved.

This entry was posted in Biology, Depression, Ecopsychology, Editorial, Individuation, Nature, Psyche, Psychology, Psychotherapy, Self, Symbolic, Unconscious and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Timing and Discernment on the Journey of Your Life

  1. Ira Katz says:

    Jeff- thank you for the reminder that I am a human sanderling in full formation. Your blog once again is brilliant and very insightful. I have taken your advice to write- everyday. Thank you for your encouragement. I am in the midst of my second book now dealing with the issue of being safe and unharmed in the multiple healthcare environments we may encounter. I hope you get a chance to read the email I sent you today quoting from a wonderful article by a psychologist taking a Budhhist approach to overcoming our demons. It is based on Tibetan Buddhism in the latest issue of Tricycle-The Buddhist Review- a great resource to me and for thinkers and meditators everywhere. Thank you for stimulating my meditations with your spot-on blogs.

    Ira

  2. Dr. Howlin says:

    Thank you again Ira for the supportive comment. I did enjoy the article that you sent and look forward to future exchanges of ideas.

    Jeff

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