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Living The Unlived Life

February 26, 2010 @ 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm PST


This talk explores the essential developmental task in the second half of life – rectifying the loss of abandoned dreams and unrealized potentials to achieve our ultimate life meaning and purpose. What is unlived life?  It consists of those potential aspects of ourselves that have not adequately entered into our experience.  Of course, no one can live out all of life’s possibilities, but there are key aspects of our being that must be brought into life or we cannot realize fulfillment.   We all carry with us a vast inventory of unlived life.  Even if we have achieved major life goals and seemingly have few regrets, there are significant experiences that have been closed to each of us. For everything we choose (or that has been chosen for us), something else remains “unchosen.”

The greatest burden a child must bear is the unlived life of the parents.

– C.G. Jung

Zarathustra goes to the grave with the unfulfilled dreams of his youth.  He speaks to them as if they were ghosts who have betrayed him bitterly.  They struck up a dance and then spoiled the music.  Did the past make his path so weighty?  Did his unlived life impede him and consign him to a life that seems not to pass?

– F. Nietzsche

We can hear the distant drumbeat of unlived life in the mutterings that go on in the back of our heads; “Woulda-coulda-shoulda.”  Or in second-guessing our life choices.  Or those late night longings. The unexpected grief that arises seemingly out of nowhere. A sense that we have somehow missed the mark, or failed to do something we were so sure we were supposed to do. Where did we go wrong, and what is this life that we find ourselves living, so different that what we set out to do?

When brought into consciousness, unlived life can become the fuel that propels us beyond current limitations. By exploring unlived life we learn to rise above fears, regrets, and disappointments, to expand our vision beyond the narrow confines of the ego, and to embrace the full measure of our being.  An enlightened vision is our most profound unlived potential, and bringing it to fruition is the worthy purpose of the second half of life.

Related Workshop: The Power of Symbolic Life (Reconciling Life's Painful Contradictions)

Jerry M. Ruhl, Ph.D, is a psychologist, teacher, and author living in Longmont, CO. A former trustee of the C.G. Jung Society of Colorado, he more recently served for six years as Executive Director of The Jung Center in Houston. He lectures nationally and maintains a private therapy practice in both Boulder, CO, and Houston, TX. He is the co-author with Robert A. Johnson of three books: Living Your Unlived Life; Contentment: A Way to True Happiness; and Balancing Heaven and Earth.  Currently he practices tele-psychology exclusively and can see people via Zoom, Skype, or FaceTime.  He can be reached by email at [email protected] or at his website jerryruhl.com


February 26, 2010
7:30 pm - 9:30 pm PST
We offer Continuing Education Credit through NASW. The fee for CEU credit is for the workshop is $5 for 2 hours. To obtain CEU credit, add the CEU to your shopping cart when registering.


First United Methodist Church, Sanctuary
1838 SW Jefferson Street
Portland, OR 97201 United States
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