Soul Sessions by CreativeMind

How to Explore Your Animus in Dreams

December 19, 2023 Debra Berndt Maldonado and Robert Maldonado PhD Life Coach Training and Personal Transformation Experts Season 7 Episode 192
Soul Sessions by CreativeMind
How to Explore Your Animus in Dreams
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Learn how to explore your Animus (or Anima) in dreams with this week's Soul Sessions episode. We'll also dive into the power of dreams, the pivotal role of Anima and Animus in our personal growth, and how they relate to our ability to create free will in our lives. We discuss: 

  • How the Animus (Anima) directs free will
  • A dream example and its interpretation
  • The phases of the Individuation process


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INTRO  00:00

Welcome to Soul Sessions with CreativeMind with Debra Berndt Maldonado and Dr. Rob Maldonado of CreativeMind. Join us each week for inspiring conversation about personal development based on Jungian philosophy, Eastern spirituality, and social neuroscience. Spend each week with us to explore deep topics in a practical way. Let's begin. 

Debra Maldonado  00:28 

Hello, welcome to another episode of Soul Sessions with CreativeMind. I'm Debra Maldonado, here with Dr. Rob Maldonado. I'm excited about this topic. Today we're going to talk about determinism versus freewill and how dreams play a part in that. But before we begin, I’d like to remind you to not forget to subscribe to our podcast so you can get all those episodes on dreams we have done for the past few weeks and future episodes.

Robert Maldonado  00:57

Is everything determined? Is everything written in the stars or in the tea leaves? Do we have freewill?

Debra Maldonado 01:05

That is the biggest question. I often had that debate a lot when I first started becoming a coach. People would say “You really can't change. You think you have free will but you really don’t.” 

Robert Maldonado  01:17

What does this have to do with dreams? We'll talk about that.

Debra Maldonado 01:22

I want to start off with the definitions of determinism and freewill. Then you're going to talk about its history and psychology and how it’s approached. Determinism is the idea that all events, including moral choices, are completely determined by previously existing causes. It's closely linked to the notion of causality, suggesting that everything has a cause and effect. Therefore our choices and actions are predetermined by a chain of prior occurrences. This view implies that giving the state of the universe at a particular time, there's only one possible future. Now, freewill on the other hand, is a concept that we have the ability to choose differently in any situation. It suggests that individuals have the power to make choices that aren’t predetermined by the past, past events, or natural laws. This perspective aligns with a sense of agency and responsibility that many people feel regarding their actions. I think a lot of people believe they have free will, but there's this determination. How did they come into play?

Robert Maldonado  02:42

If you think about Freud's philosophy, he was deterministic in a sense, because what he was saying is based on your past experiences and what you've held in your unconscious mind, if we knew everything about you, we could predict your future actions, decisions, morality, etc.

Debra Maldonado  03:09

Is that were they say the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior? I hear that a lot.

Robert Maldonado  03:15

Part of it, but the whole idea is that if we had enough information, we could know everything about what you're going to do. In essence, prediction. Because that's part of what science is, it wants to predict the behavior of things, the cause and effect.

Debra Maldonado  03:35

It makes us feel safe in a way, we have this safety net, this determinism. It's like it's fate, it happens when it happens.

Robert Maldonado  03:47

Systems like astrology — not always, we know astrologers that are more subtle and incorporate different ideas — but in general, the idea that depending on what time you were born, your sign, we can predict your future based on where the stars are in alignment. If we think about Jung's work, especially individuation, he's talking about freewill. But it's not guaranteed, it's not something that's apparent or given to you at the start. You have to go through the process of individuation to acquire free will.

Debra Maldonado  04:35

Until we undergo shadow work and the individuation process, which is basically in the early part of life we’re operating from cause and effect to the people around us, shaped by the world. Then everyone can notice their life keeps playing out the same way. Same amount of money comes in. Same struggles with money, same struggles with relationships, parent relationships, friendships. “This keeps happening to me”, you hear that phrase from people. “I don't know why this keeps happening to me.” They're caught up in their pattern, that would be a deterministic type of existence. Now, people who undergo individuation and start understanding what the drivers that are unconsciously driving that determinism are. When you make that conscious, as Carl Jung famously said, you can change your fate. Until you make that unconscious conscious, you will think of it as fate. That's the key. The camps of determinism or free will, it’s actually both depending on what stage of development you're in.

Robert Maldonado  05:43

That's usually the case. Life is not always black and white, yes and no, or good and bad. It's always those gray areas. This is one of those cases. It's not either/or, it's depending on your state of mind, your personal development status, your ability to really take charge of your own life and your mind, then you can develop freewill. It’s something that comes into being through the individuation process. What we have been talking about is how dreams can guide, instruct that individuation process, how the unconscious mind produces dreams that give us direct messages about what the nature of our work is as we go through individuation.

Debra Maldonado  06:38

The big thing for me when I discovered Jungian psychology is the idea that cognitively we can try to rationalize and self-examine our thoughts and feelings and create goals and understand our past, “my parents were this way”, understanding our patterns in a way, but it doesn't change it. The insight isn’t transformation. We need to go deeper into the unconscious to see what it is that we can't see, what are the things that we’re making our assumptions of life on and our limits of life based on. That is irrational. If we don't know what that is, we can't change it. You can't change what you're not aware of. Dreams are amazing because every night they're giving you information you can't access on a conscious level.

Robert Maldonado  07:29

At the heart of this ability to direct your life, to have freewill is the anima and animus. We want to focus on the animus to simplify because the words are so close it gets confusing when we talk about them both at the same time. Jung conceived the animus primarily as the unconscious element in women. As soon as a woman undergoes individuation, after the integration of the shadow, after she realizes she’s not the persona, there's more to her, the next level of integration has to do with integrating the animus.

Debra Maldonado  08:18

That's a really important thing you just said, because so many people stop at shadow work. They think shadow work is the key, once I do my shadow work, I'm going to be fine. But that's just getting you back to a little bit of more self awareness. But what do you do with that self awareness? That's where the anima animus come in, where you're able to make huge changes. I see them as your spiritual power or your emotional power for men? This is a deep soulful power you aren't able to access until you do the shadow work. After that, this greater part of you comes through.

Robert Maldonado  08:54

Jung talks about it as an evolution. There are basic physical, social elements to it. But as you proceed further in developing that relationship with the animus, there are more spiritual, psychological, emotional elements to it.

Debra Maldonado  09:16

I’d say the anima or animus, if you think of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, it's the same thing. There's more things that are more related to survival and social, then you go to higher places. When we used to do our engagement program, we worked a lot with the social part of the anima or animus. But there's another layer to that, that's creating and self realization, all those wonderful things, living your mission, living your purpose in a bigger way.

Robert Maldonado  09:47

A lot of people get hung up on the gender issues with the anima animus but it's that Jung had to frame it in that context to build the structure of that theory. You can't really have a good theory if you can't account for human behavior. Human behavior at the social level is all about relationships. The anima animus plays a big part in that. The animus for a woman, he thought, at that basic social level, is a balancing out of the feminine principle that's already there. Nurturance, emotionality, intuition is already there. He says the animus is what gives a woman that assertiveness, the use of logic, the ability to assert and take control of things.

Debra Maldonado  10:42

Their volition, they have more power over their will, to will themselves versus be passive. It's more an active force, how women can be a more active force in their life toward what they want to create versus waiting for the right time or waiting for people to just cooperate with them. It's that ability, where a lot of women think that's aggressive, or that's asking for too much, or being pushy. It's not, it's that power we have. I hate to say masculine power, because people get confused by it, but spiritual power that we need to effectuate change in the world, to live our purpose, to be a powerful partner with someone romantically. If you don't have that animus, you're going to just project it all onto your partner and they are going to be your source of power versus you have it within yourself. If you think about the ego and the shadow, the persona shadow, that's really coming to terms with your past, and the anima animus work is about creating your future.

Robert Maldonado  11:42

The animus is beyond the social aspect of it, balancing out the nurturance and the assertiveness, then it goes into creativity. Creativity has to do more with tapping into the deeper aspects of the psyche, the collective unconscious, as he says, into the symbols and archetypes that arise from the collective unconscious that are then able to be introduced into to society and culture and transform that culture.


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Debra Maldonado  13:11

Would you say the more individuated you are from shadow work, the more pure relationship you have with the animus? You'd have to do that work first or else you'd just project your ego onto it. Because it's such a power, if the ego idolizes the animus or anima, it's not a healthy, equal relationship, basically.

Robert Maldonado  13:46

There are different interpretations of Jung's process of individuation. But we've been working for about 10 years or more, taking people through the individuation process. What we've learned is it's better to focus initially on the persona shadow work and integrate those elements before going into the deeper aspects of the collective unconscious. Because the ego always wants to get away from shadow work, it wants to jump ahead, it wants to bypass all that difficult stuff and just go to the fun stuff. This is really the fun stuff in the sense that it allows you to create, this is the birth of freewill, it's your ability to determine who you are and how your life is going to play out. That's a powerful mental state of mind.

Debra Maldonado  14:42

Wouldn't you say that if you skip it and do archetypal work, let's say, I'm just going to work with the archetypes, I'm not going to do the shadow work, what tends to happen is the psyche, you process it very intellectualized, it becomes very high concept. When you do shadow work, you're integrating all those emotions you pushed away. You want that emotional energy for those archetypes, you don't want to think of it as a logical, rational way to look at these archetypes and how they show up in that they become more personality traits versus really this psychic force that's showing up when you say that.

Robert Maldonado  15:24

I defer to you, because you had to integrate your animus, whereas my work was to integrate the anima. But that sounds right along the Jung’s way of thinking about it.

Debra Maldonado  15:40

When I first started doing animus work, I wasn't sure, I didn't know I was doing it. It was just visualizing my ideal partner. I’d do this active imagination with this person, I never saw his face, but imagined what it’d be like to have someone love me in his beautiful way. Then when I worked on my shadow, which I didn't know I was doing at the time, I was actually working on the shadow work and the projections and retrieving them all, working on the emotion through starting out as a coach and being an entrepreneur. If you ever want to accelerate your individuation process, become an entrepreneur because it really stretches your comfort zone, you can work with it. But after that, I found that once the relationship part was taken care of, I was complete with that, not complete fully, but what I'm saying you're not struggling anymore with the same pattern. I was ready for a bigger option. It becomes more or less of a social fitting in and drive to be in a relationship, but now as a woman, where is my power? How can I exert my power in the world to live my purpose? We talked about the animus matures at first, it's this sexual, physical reaction, then we evolve into the social, then we go into higher visions of purpose with it.

Robert Maldonado  17:04

Purpose, I like that. Because if you think about shadow work, it dissuades you of the illusion that you’re the persona. But then what? Who are you? How are you going to act in the world if you're not acting to sustain and uphold this persona, this mask, this role that you've been playing? The animus for a woman serves that purpose, it gives you then your higher purpose, your direction in life, not only your ability to drive your life and direct it, but also to instruct you what it is that you're meant to be building.

Debra Maldonado  17:46

It's like intuition in a way, accessing your own inner wisdom. For me, my animus is my inner wisdom. It's not some man in my psyche that's separate from me, but it’s my masculine energy that doesn't fit into my persona, which is a woman. But having that, being able to exert my will, feel powerful in the world. We do need both. When we say masculine or feminine, it's not a gender thing, but it's more the creative, nurturing, allowing force versus the active force, the assertive force, the will, the drive. They work together. Just like a baby's born from two people, it’s the two energies moving together.

Robert Maldonado  18:33

A lot of people use the idea of yin and yang to help them understand it in a more creative way.

Debra Maldonado  18:42

In yoga philosophy, Shakti and Shiva.

Robert Maldonado  18:45

Shiva and Shakti, the consciousness and material world.

Debra Maldonado  18:51

Now that we have that straightened out, we want freewill, we want to work with the animus, you have a dream someone submitted that is clearly an animus dream. We wanted to share parts of it with you and show you really the power of this concept.

Robert Maldonado  19:07

In this series, we're focusing on dreams. In this instance, of course, we want to see how the animus appears in dreams to guide the individual. This is someone who is undergoing individuation. She's already done the heavy lifting of integrating her shadow, and now is starting to receive these dreams, pointing her in the direction of her spirituality, her higher purpose. She’s at a house party. There's family around, there's kids. Then while they're enjoying the festivities, a group of men appear, maybe on motorcycles. There was a feeling of wildness coming from them, people notice them. I went inside, I find myself in a room with people I know, everyone is friendly and having conversations, then the main figure comes in, the leader of the gang. He's strides in purposefully, comes straight towards me and stops a couple of feet away.

Debra Maldonado  20:28

I like this “The energy of his approach takes my breath away.” You know this person has power.

Robert Maldonado  20:36

“He is dark and his hair is disheveled. He is a bit dirty, his clothes are worn. Middle-aged, he looks as though he’s just emerged from a forest or wilderness or jungle. There's an intensity in his look, he takes me in. I know he is there for me. I feel his desire and his need. I know he is dangerous, wild. There is some lingering madness surrounding him. I'm not afraid for myself. I was unsure of him, but not afraid.” Here the unconscious is presenting what relationship this woman has with her animus at this point.

Debra Maldonado  21:28

The house is our comfort zone, her social circle, her determined future, set comfort that people have.

Robert Maldonado  21:38

The home — not always, but, let's say, in this dream represents her comfort zone, her way of being up to this point. Now there's a new element coming in now that she's gained some comfort working with the unconscious. This new wild element is coming in. The wildness here has a lot of layers of meaning. But in general, we see it as indicating that there's been no contact. If somebody is has been living in, something from the wilderness, from the deeper unconscious mind is emerging and coming in. It's powerful. She senses that. There's danger here, meaning, it's unknown to me, something new has come into my life. What does Jung say? Something has awakened in me?

Debra Maldonado  22:38

Somebody has come alive in me that needs my attention.

Robert Maldonado  22:42

The dream goes on. She says “I'm nervous, wondering if he’ll cause a scene in front of my family.” Then a few other things happen. The rest of the gang comes into the house and disturbs the party. They have to flee. She has to escape through the back window. But as she's exiting the house through the window, the man is there. The wild man is there on the other side, helping her.

Debra Maldonado  23:24

Moving away from the ego conditioning into this new unknown.

Robert Maldonado  23:29

But here, he looks more human. His appearance is already changing, he's friendlier, he's more approachable, he's playing the role of a helper, a guide. “He gives a nod and points in the direction of my escape.” He's pointing the way to the new house or the new place that she has to go.

Debra Maldonado  23:59

Wouldn't you say in a typical dream with the anima animus, they sometimes evolve in the dream itself? They start in one state or one symbol and they’d evolve. It’s showing you the before and after of how you need to evolve your relationship with the anima animus. Or sometimes it's a number of dreams that you start to see the evolution.

Robert Maldonado  24:20

It usually plays out as themes, a series of dreams that might have the similar theme. This wild man, how the relationship shifts as she become conscious of this new element arising in the psyche. This is the aspect of dream work where Jung talks about the integration of the conscious and the unconscious mind. Remember, this is someone undergoing individuation. She's studying, reading, contemplating, working at a much different level than simply believing she's the persona. She's starting to realize “Everything I'm perceiving in my waking life is teaching me, it's telling me something about who I am.” That's a very different state of mind than the ordinary person has. The unconscious now starts to present dreams that are guiding her in a much deeper way. Because now, the task becomes about creating something new in life, not simply balancing the ego persona, but directing her in which way to go. In this dream, you see very clearly that if she's meant to escape her own family system, meaning the shadow work she did, she's accessing that aspect of her life in which direction is she meant to go. The animus is there to direct her and help her.

Debra Maldonado  26:08

That home and the family represents our conditioning, because our family has a lot to do with our determinism. If we don't become conscious of it. Going through the window too, isn't that spiritual? Windows represent the spirit, looking outside, then also, stepping outside of this frame is like going to the unlimited parts of yourself. So many layers. It's so cool because we all learn and all of us who study personal development want that magic, we all want this “How do I create my life? How do I escape these patterns?” Instead of just looking at the cognitive level, “I'm going to believe differently or think differently”, we're getting a deeper access to our own self that is so profound, it's so symbolic that it's a much more direct experience of our own journey, more creative. This is so much better than thinking “I'm good enough, I can make it” or even being motivated to keep working through resistance. You want to understand why there is so much resistance. Then, instead of having the ego create from that, pushing through the mud, you can have the access to the spiritual power that you can use versus your ego trying to create your life. It's such a different element of power that you have to create your life.

Robert Maldonado  27:34

The way we see symbols that come through dreams is that they do have a power in themselves. The appearance of that dream and the symbol of the animus in the dream will begin to shift the individual psyche, but remember, she's also participating in a conscious way. She's studying her own developmental process of individuation, which means that the conscious mind can participate with the unconscious content that's coming into awareness and direct it in a much more powerful way.

Debra Maldonado  28:13

We have talked about pre-determinism and freewill, we said that in order to get unlocked from our predetermined future, from our conditioning, we need to individuate. How we individuate is through dreams. What would be the next step for someone who's done their shadow work and had a dream like this? What would be something from a practical place, what she can do with this dream?

Robert Maldonado  28:44

As a coach, she's building a practice. Can she use the spiritual power that comes through the animus to build her practice? Absolutely. She needs that assertiveness, use of logic, that spiritual presence.

Debra Maldonado  29:03

Even the messiness. He’s wild and messy, and when you start your own business, it is not "step one, step two, step three”, it's like the wild jungle. You've never traversed through this jungle before, you have the hatchet, you got to find your way, you don't know what's going to show up. You need some kind of connection to something within you that's much deeper, because if you look at your external and just look outside of yourself or your senses to navigate, you're going to get lost in the jungle. This is like your inner beacon that will help you navigate this wild, unruly place of stepping outside your comfort zone, whether it's starting a business or being in a new relationship, which can cause lots of upheaval, wildness and wild feelings. How do we navigate that and how do we balance that?

Robert Maldonado  29:53

We have to remember that wildness now is tempered by the logical, conscious element that's empathy, nurturance. She's a coach, she’s been practicing and learning how to listen, how to be empathic. Now the mixture of the two, the combination, the integration of the two, that's where the power comes from, it's not only one or the other, it’s the integration. She will be a more complete individual in that regard.

Debra Maldonado  30:27

Versus trying to continue to create her life or even as a coach, create her coaching business through ego, through making it about “I need everything to be perfect before I start.” A lot of people get discouraged. Where do you go when you're discouraged? You have to find that resource within to continue. It's a beautiful process. We do need both logic and creativity when we create anything. We can't create fully, if we just use logic, it’ll only get you so far. If you just use creativity, you’ll get lost. You will have fun, but you're going in a circle. You want to have both to create something amazing, your masterpiece, the canvas and the paint.

Robert Maldonado  31:13

Ultimately, it's the balance of the anima, the soulfulness of the individual in her right. The soulfulness is already in her persona, she's a beautiful person that wants to help others. The animus brings in that powerful spiritual force that in combination is the divine marriage of the conscious and the unconscious.

Debra Maldonado  31:42

Usually women, or anyone who's in the helping field, feel hesitancy to exert their power, because they want to be nice and helpful. Sometimes they don't keep boundaries or are afraid to look too assertive, even pitching their services, charging money, all those things that help them have a successful business. The animus can help balance out that desire to help others, that soulful, meaningful, as well as the logic of “you do need a business, you got to make money, you got to do certain things, you got to put yourself out there”, all those that balance of both. A lot of people that are in the helping industry love to teach and nurture, but they have such resistance to integrating that will in the world.

Robert Maldonado  32:30

The divine marriage of the conscious mind and the unconscious now yields this new self, a new sense of self, a more complete sense of self, which is the third stage of individuation, that movement towards the self, as some people call it, the higher self, the true self. But Jung says it's the self, meaning it's who you really are, not just your persona, not just the mask, the role you're playing in society but your essence, your beingness.

Debra Maldonado  33:04

Your self-concept growing up is that you're this little persona. Then when you start working with the shadow, your self-concept gets shaken up a bit. You're like “That's not who I think I am anymore.” You are discovering who you are, what your individual life means, what your purpose is, what your role is in life, relationships. Then as we evolve to anima animus is to do bigger things, live our purpose. Then the last stage is our self concept is so far away from the ego. The ego is still there, you can't get rid of the ego, but your ego has no power anymore to drive your life and the higher concept of your self. Your true nature is the one that basically drives your life, that's a beautiful thing. It's a gradation, it's not like you're done with step one. It's an evolution as you go through and a gradual process of growth.

Robert Maldonado  33:55

Next time we'll talk about the process of individuation and part that dreams play on the path to self realization.

Debra Maldonado  34:05

I can't wait. I loved talking about anima animus, I hope you did too. But before we go, I do want to remind you to subscribe to our channel and not miss the episode next week where we go for the big picture of how dreams work in shadow work, in anima animus work, and the work with the big self. 

Robert Maldonado  34:25 

See you next time. 

Debra Maldonado  34:26 

Take care.

OUTRO  34:27

Thank you for joining us. Don't forget to subscribe to CreativeMind Soul Sessions. Join us next week as we explore another deep topic where you can consciously create your life with CreativeMind Soul Session. See you next time.

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