Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today

Positive Psychology

A 3-Part Process for Living Into Wholeness

A universal pattern hidden within us guides and transforms our lives.

Key points

  • Our unconscious contains archetypes designed to guide our evolving consciousness.
  • Multiple ways of knowing have, at their core, a timeless pattern of transformation.
  • As Carl Jung noted, a process of individuation is needed to guide us back to our inherent state of harmony, balance, and unity.
  • A blueprint for living into wholeness consists of a 3-part pattern: Call to Wholeness, Path of Purification, and Return to Wholeness.

A hidden thread of wholeness connects all things in creation. In this wholeness-in-motion, even apparent opposites—like yin and yang, feminine and masculine—are complementary, interrelated halves of the same whole, balancing, integrating, uniting, and transcending their apparent duality.

Robert Atkinson
Robert Atkinson

But since we are born into this realm of duality, Carl Jung identified a process of “individuation,” or merging of opposites, that is needed to lead us back to this state of completeness, balance, harmony, and unity that define the quality of wholeness.

A Universal Pattern

Jung was not alone in recognizing this need to remember, reclaim, and live into the wholeness we are born with. This is universally seen as a three-part process leading to and through a timeless pattern of transformation.

In mysticism, Evelyn Underhill identified the “mystic way” as consisting of awakening, purification, and union. In ritual, Arnold van Gennep called the same process separation, transition, and incorporation. In mythology, Joseph Campbell brought the world’s myths together in the “monomyth” following the pattern of departure, initiation, and return. For Jung, the Individuation process consists of the three phases of birth of the ego, death of the ego, and birth of the whole self.

The ways of knowing with this pattern of transformation at their center also include the basic structure of the story, which is not just a beginning, middle, and end, but on a deeper level beginning, muddle, and resolution. The muddle being the conflict, or challenge, that brings about the transformation needed for the resolution.

When we merge all these versions of the same pattern into one, we come up with a blueprint for living into wholeness consisting of 3 parts: Call to Wholeness, Path of Purification, and Return to Wholeness, as described in detail, with writing exercises and worksheets in my book, A New Story of Wholeness. When these three parts, made up of three main archetypes and many motifs, or smaller universal elements within each phase, are recognized as one continuous series of experiences in our lives, we’ve completed a transformational experience that is designed to guide us toward living into wholeness. Here is that blueprint and how we identify it in our own lives.

Call to Wholeness

Waking up to something beyond what we’ve known, we embark on a journey to a higher consciousness, as our destiny unfolds toward our innate potential. In unknown realms, we find we are being guided, protected, and assisted on our way. As new challenges appear, impending difficulties recede and fade as we proceed.

Following a need to withdraw, retreat, turn inward, or cut ourselves off from the world, a desire to develop and evolve in the world grows within us.

Path of Purification

As our consciousness expands, we open up to greater challenges as they come our way, to the glimpses of the new reality we are witnessing, and to fulfilling our inner potential.

Recognizing more instances of guidance and assistance coming our way, we discover more of our innate capacity and are intent on cleaning up, integrating, unifying, and healing all parts of ourselves to reclaim our innate wholeness.

Though living in the realm of dualities, our consciousness of wholeness grows stronger. Challenges, tests, and temptations serve to solidify our values and standards.

Fear of letting go of the old way of seeing things dissolves; we die to the limited self, and are renewed and reborn, more than we were, with a consciousness of oneness. With our fullest potential in reach, we also understand that we are still quite vulnerable.

Return to Wholeness

Focused on sustaining the unitive consciousness we are convinced of as the highest reality, we embrace showing up for all this demands of us, including giving back to others what we have been given, lifting others up along their journey, and linking up with others to serve the evolutionary impulse and the good of the whole.

Our return to wholeness is facilitated by knowing consciously the struggle of having transcended temporal boundaries and finding our own balance. We remember that we are always in the process of becoming, interdependent and interconnected with all others. We seek to maintain a holistic view of reality, as we take on a wider, all-inclusive identity and integrate more qualities, characteristics, and virtues into our thoughts and actions. We strive to live as the whole being we are, lighting up the path we walk, and looking upon all things with the eye of wholeness.

Living in Wholeness

Having experienced this ageless, transformative pattern in our lives, we still have the significant challenge of maintaining the consciousness that comes with it. Achieving this goal is known as being the "master of two worlds." One is characterized by the seeming duality and separation we continue to witness, and the other by the wholeness and unity we know as the core quality of all existence.

Our goal of living in the wholeness we know to characterize our own makeup—the completeness, balance, harmony, and unity that define who we are at our essence—as well as the entirety of creation surrounding us, is ensured by this process of waking up to the reality of wholeness. This, in turn, assures us that we are no longer separate from the whole.

The more we remember we all belong to the same whole, are always part of that whole, and all share a common pattern designed to return us to wholeness, the more will we be able to attain our fullest possible development through our aligned work in the world.


Atkinson, R. (2022). A New Story of Wholeness: An Experiential Guide for Connecting the Human Family. NY: Light on Light Press.

Jung, C.G. (2012), Man and His Symbols. New York: Random House, Part 3.

More from Robert Atkinson Ph.D.
More from Psychology Today
More from Robert Atkinson Ph.D.
More from Psychology Today