Episode 13: Individuation
August 24, 2020

Episode 13: Individuation


Individuation (in·di·vid·u·a·tion) is the word used to describe when a person is differentiating themselves from their prior groups of association. In other words, it’s when a person decides to start deciding who they want to be. From people, to a person; soup to nuts…. is this making sense? We probably butchered this description but we guarantee you’ll understand what we’re talking about once you start listening. Individuation is probably not a word you’ve used often but you have experienced it. Michael, Lindsay and Evan will explore this topic and the many scenarios you’ve probably seen it played out in your own lives.

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5:30 - Intro to Individuation

“Individuation is the process of finding yourself and your own identity. We find it most often when adolescents are leaving home and going to live on their own for the first time. Often times that is college, a first job, or a first apartment. These are the biggest moments of people finding their own identity separate from a former group.”

11:05 - How individuation often is revealed in moments of conflict. Michael shares his own experiences interacting with college students as they figure out their own identities as human beings.

“[Individuation] creates conflict when we go against norms of our former communities. We usually aren’t actively aware of it happening.”

17:50 - How individuation is played out when young adults are forming their own opinions in politics as well as their religious beliefs. These forms of self-exploration are important to our maturation process, but they often create conflict within our families or friend groups.

“When I (Michael) worked at Mercer Wesley, students used to pour into my office when they found out there are two creation stories. We sometimes construct things for our children only for them to see them deconstructed in the real world. It is an emotionally powerful moment for them. The Bible either comes alive to them or they are freaked out that nothing might be true anymore. We move from a very ordered world to a world that’s less ordered, then we start to reorganize things in our own way.”

28:30 - How do, we as individuals, approach this experience?

“Realize this is a normal experience and embrace it. From a parental perspective, you must deal with your children’s experiences [of individuation] with grace and an understanding of their own individuality.”

31:00 - How do we bring up the ways we think the world is changing? How do we speak honestly and without fear? Michael shares insights on how our ongoing individuation can affect marriages and Lindsay describes the issues of helicopter-parenting.

“It is often easier to individuate the farther we are from our former communities. Children of helicopter parents struggle to individuate for this very reason.”

39:40 - How to figure out our personal identity vs. the identity others have given us, and how to facilitate a healthy process of individuation that minimizes conflict.

“It seems necessary to have some help doing our own individuating. It seems like there is a lot of pain when people don’t walk alongside during it.”

42:10 - Thoughts on how to normalize the process of individuation so others feel safe. Also, how individuation is part of our own sanctification and learning of who God made us to be.

“The Biblical narrative is people changing and finding community as we mature in life. We are individuals and part of a community.”

47:45 - Is individuation a degradation of the principle of walking the narrow path as described by Jesus in Matthew 7?

“‘Narrow is the way is actually true, but the church has misunderstood what that means. There are not many people who live in balance of being holy in self and holy in community. Legalism is messier than faith.”

59:45 - How do we begin our own individuation process if we feel led to start one? How can seeing a therapist or a pastor actually help you in your journey? Also, what are the benefits of solitude and meditation?