The following article is based on my training as an Archetype Consultant through the Caroline Myss Education Institute (see Myss.com). It is based on her Sacred Contracts theory that an individual is imprinted with 12 archetypal energy patterns to fulfill one’s soul agreements of this lifetime. The set of archetypes we possess (or possess us) finds expression in our thoughts and behaviors. By studying personal archetypes, you learn to view all relationships as opportunities for growth and understand how certain responsibilities in your life are necessary to complete soul assignments. By learning how certain archetypes animate, you can recognize them in the behavior of those around you as well and be able to connect with them more effectively and compassionately. In this article I focus on 5 lifelong, survival archetypes we all have in common.
Our Transformative Archetypes
The 2020 journey of transformation begins with chaos (universal virus) which transports us inside our home (mind) where we meet up with our 5 survival archetypes and the insights they offer. Seclusion is the perfect time to really take notice of our patterns of thought and behavior and identify which ones bring us happiness or suffering.
From decades of working with clients, Caroline Myss has identified five primary archetypes in our culture. These will be familiar to everyone, and you can decide for yourself which one(s) are running the show for you right now. From there we can practice working with that energy in the most constructive way. In this manner, we can utilize this time of transformation to evolve into a kinder, more loving and forgiving consciousness with greater resilience and strength.
We have all observed how a dysfunctional person creates dysfunctional partnerships. Likewise, a balanced and healthy psyche co-creates a healthy and balanced universe. Like nature, we are creatures of adaptation and will take on a new form, mentally, spiritually and physically altered by the current pandemic. Let’s stay mindful of the thought and behavior patterns we would like to work on first.
Part One – Archetype Test Kit
To identify which archetypes are most activated for you right now, we’ll start with a self awareness test. Answer (honestly!) yes or no to the questions in the following five (5) sections.
- Does social distancing make you feel neglected &/or abandoned?
- Does having restrictions make you feel sad, disappointed and depressed?
- Do you feel like its other people’s fault/negligence that has caused you suffering?
- Do you often rebel against the current restrictions ?
- Do you feel your nervous system is in high alert and you panic easily?
- Are you frightened that others are conspiring to take your freedom and material goods away?
- Do the daily pandemic updates make you feel paralyzed or drained of energy yet unable to get restful sleep?
- Are you angry and feel violated that others have taken more than their share of essential and protective supplies?
- Do you feel guilty for not volunteering to help those in need even though you are in a high risk category?
- Do you feel too guilty to say no to anyone who needs your help even if you are not medically trained or it puts you at a medical risk?
- Do you judge yourself & others harshly?
- Do you strive to keep up with the opinions, likes and dislikes of your friends and mentors.
- Are you in a good routine of taking care of yourself (adequate sleep, eating healthy, exercising, spiritual practice)?
- Are you still making excuses for things you have not done even though you now have a lot more time in your day to do them?
- Is it hard for you to make a decision? Do you often second guess your decisions?
- Do you say one thing and then do another?
- When uncomfortable feelings arise, do you tend to distract by getting busier with projects rather than work through emotions?
- Have people ever told you that you are in denial?
- Has your internet usage increased substantially while home? Do your passions turn into obsessions (overeating, overspending, overcaffeinating, too much cleaning, staying up all night on a project, etc.)
- Do you have a habit that you know is not healthy and repeatedly try to quit, but cannot for long.
While all archetypes have a light and shadow side and we each contain ALL 5 of the archetypes listed, to varying degrees, the purpose of this test is to address the one(s) that may not be serving you right now and consider making some different choices that may result in a greater sense of well-being. By understanding these 5 archetypes you will also be able to recognize them in others and interact more compassionately.
Part Two – Test Results
Read the descriptions below, keeping in mind the Archetype Test Section(s) you had the greatest number of “yes” responses to.
Section One – The Child Archetype – Dependence to Responsibility
“You’re braver than you believe and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” -A.A. Milne, author of Winnie the Pooh
The Child Archetype becomes empowered as they evolve from dependence to personal responsibility. By learning to problem solve and navigate through personal loss and disappointment with coping mechanisms, the Child develops trust in their ability to resource solutions and accepts responsibility for the outcome of their actions.
By becoming self reliant and having the courage to be vulnerable and deal with conflict the Child develops a greater sense of strength and confidence.
Identify the things in your current life that you most value and truly make you feel secure.
In what ways can we reverse the parent-child relationship of our current political and health care systems, by stepping into our own authority in a responsible manner?
Talk about the emotions you are feeling and take steps to reduce their grip on you through action steps that give those feelings an outlet (online fitness/yoga, guided meditations, art/music/dance projects). Respectfully allow others to do the same.
Take responsibility for daily sanitizing, supply lists, home repair and reaching out to others who could use your time and attention right now. Brainstorm with others about positive changes and lessons that this period of isolation has brought about.
Can you identify service opportunities to meet the needs of a changing social and financial structure?
Other archetypes (& subarchetypes) sharing attributes of the Child:
Prince/Princess, Muse, Damsel, Clown, Martyr, High Chair Tyrant, Magical Child, Divine Child, Nature Child, Orphan Child, Adult Child
Section Two – The Victim Archetype – Scarcity to Abundance
“We must learn to leave the table when love is no longer being served.” – Nina Simone
Victim consciousness is prevalent in America. We’ve become a society that glamorizes entitlement and vengeance. Popular movies and TV shows like Judge Judy, Dr. Phil and 20/20 feature villains in many forms, inflicting trauma, betrayal and despair on the unsuspecting victims.
The Victim Archetype views the world through the lens of their past wounds and injustices, feeling violated and negative. They shift quickly into a state of “fight or flight,” seeing danger everywhere. They are easily overwhelmed by change and are quick to lash out in anger at perceived threats. They victimize others with their defensive words and behaviors. Acting from a position of mistrust, fear and resistance to change only exacerbates their sense of powerlessness. They seem to never absorb rational advice and just keep repeating negative banter.
*“Just as the characters and events in dreams aren’t separate from the dreamer, the world according to the great psychoanalyst Carl Jung is but a living symbol, the embodiment of deeper parts of ourselves which we collectively dream into existence.”
Explore the source of your limiting belief or theory – did it originate in your ancestry, your community or your religion? Is it time to release an old wives tale that you do not truly resonate with?
Set boundaries with those you interact. Choose to stay close to a supportive inner circle of optimistic friends, neighbors and associates.
Catch yourself when thinking negative thoughts and say the opposite out loud.
Acknowledge the principle of duality which states that there exists good and not so good in everything.
*Martin Winiecki, “Searching for the Anti-Virus/Covid-19 as Quantum Phenomenon,” kosmosjournal.org
Notice if your Victim dialogue of fear elicits from others a reinforcing payoff of attention, love and sympathy.
Listen to motivational speakers. Envision the new world you’re co-creating where equanimity, love and healing is part of the rebirth.
Take stock daily of all the simple blessings in your life.
Teach others how to treat you by treating yourself with respect.
Scientists say that trauma affects the central nervous system and results in states of hyperarousal. Calm the nervous system by eliminating stimulants like caffeine/nicotine.
Try guided meditations like heart math and somatic breathwork to activate the parasympathetic system.
Other archetypes sharing attributes of the Victim:
Hoarder, Doomsday Prepper, Coward/Bully, Predator, Slave, Beggar, Hermit, Masochist
Section Three – The Prostitute Archetype -Deception to Authenticity
“Givers have to set limits because takers rarely do.” Henry Ford
This archetype is about creating a win-win situation. It asks “What am I willing to give you in order to get what (I think) I need from you.?” It tests the level of our faith to see if we will compromise our mental and physical well being in order to be accepted, valued, admired and approved of. When we don’t know our own worth, we constantly seek validation from friends, family, colleagues and community. We are easily intimidated and afraid of rejection. We will say and do things we really don’t like or believe in, in order to earn/uphold an image, status or reputation and this dishonesty drains our time, energy and self esteem. We begin to resent others and feel taken advantage of even though we willingly agree to give too much and shortchange ourselves. The deception of people-pleasing depletes spiritual strength and rewards the ego.
The challenge here is to become conscious of the motivations and hidden agendas underlying all interactions.
Practice honoring yourself by being more authentic and respectfully speaking your truth, no matter who it displeases. Keep a truth journal and notice where and if you waiver in everyday life. Be loved for who you truly are. Where is the esteem in being loved for someone/thing you’re not?
What does it really take to feel good about yourself? Is that answer always tied to inflation of the ego? How can you cultivate greater self worth in ways that feed the soul?
Other archetypes sharing attributes of the Prostitute:
Actor, Storyteller, Thief, Puppet, Yes Man, Chameleon, Shapeshifter, Femme Fatale, Salesman
Section Four– The Saboteur Archetype – Indecision to Action
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, it is that we are powerful beyond measure.” -Marianne Williamson
The Saboteur archetype has to do with interpersonal energy and self protection.
It formed in childhood when ideas expressed were tabooed, shamed or judged harshly. Sabotaging behavior is fueled by fears of rejection/humiliation, self doubt and competition.
The Saboteur archetype is characterized by self criticism, low self esteem and confusion. The Saboteur is activated every time you entertain “what if?” scenarios that lead you to abandon a positive thought, action or new endeavor. The source of inner conflict is a feeling of not being smart/talented/good enough.
That’s when the hesitation, excuses and fear blockages form.
We can choose to step into clarity and action by the practice of taking action even though we are entering new territory and feel fear. Like the saying, “feel the fear and do it anyway.”
Take inventory of your skills, abilities, accomplishments and resources for a true representation of your inner greatness. Honor your relationships by promoting their success as strongly as your own.
Brainstorm ways you can reinvent and rebuild your role in society, your business, your relationships and finances.
Other archetypes sharing attributes of the Saboteur:
Perfectionist, Judge, Trickster, Gossip, Strategist
Section Five – The Addict Archetype –Freedom Over Bondage
“Humankind cannot bear very much reality.” – T.S. Elliot
The Addict archetype is on a journey of spiritual transformation, from the self indulgence of worshiping illusions, the destruction it brings, and a subsequent surrender to a life of deeper meaning and purpose.
We live in a competitive culture that will not tolerate pain, restrictions, aging or death. It glorifies wealth/possessions and superiority over spiritual nourishment. Expecting the material world, prestige & ego gratification to bring inner satisfaction has left people feeling frustrated and depressed. We are exhausted by the endless chase for more money, power and privilege. We reach for things/experiences to give an adrenaline rush and further numb our restless desires.
*Jungian analyst Marion Woodman refers to the split between body and soul as an “inner civil war,” the addict’s way to drown out emotions felt in the body. For example, she states that when the soul is starving (because it’s not being recognized), the addict tries to feed it with food, grounding it by symbolizing the unconditional love of mother. Marion sees alcohol as a symbol of spirit, longing for the light – taking one out of the body and the mundane world.
She attributes addiction as both a search for, and an avoidance of a deeper reality (perhaps not being lovable). According to Ms. Woodman, “addicts do not live in the here-and-now.” They are always going to stop their addiction at some point in the future but the body only exists in the present. She says,”the real food of the soul is metaphor…art, music, poetry, the whole creative world is the world of the soul.” Sheltering in place is an invitation to live in the present rather than enter into avoidance tactics.
Shifting our internal value system from the pursuit of personal needs to the inner focus of a deeper connection to the Divine brings one back in alignment with our true nature as spiritual beings.
Identify where in your life you can integrate more daily acts of loving service and practices that bring you into a stronger connection with the Divine (however you define that word). What are the hobbies/practices that bring you into spiritual connection? It can be as simple as caring for animals or walking in the woods.
Other archetypes sharing the attributes of the Addict:
Mystic, Vampire, Gambler, Rescuer, Con Artist, Don Juan, Zombie, Narcissist, Spellcaster
*See ”Worshipping Illusions: An Interview with Marion Woodman,” parabola.org and mwoodmanfoundation.org
The common denominator within each of these 5 archetypes is a survival instinct.
The takeaway is to remain aware, not to run, from these behaviors or expect that they can change overnight. You may come from a long line of negative thinkers or people pleasers and these patterns were ingrained from an early age. Perhaps, you now surround yourself with friends of a similar mindset. But if we can take notice each time these behaviors emerge, and cause unpleasant consequences, we can make a conscious choice to do something different and practice that new action until it becomes a habit and a new pattern. And that new pattern may lead us to positive outcomes which reinforce repetition. We can alter our course from fate into a soul-satisfying destiny.
Ultimately, you will find that your personal archetypes can lead you to a place where you discover that your inner world holds greater power and authority over you than anything in the physical world. You can participate consciously with the forces in your life. You will be able to interpret symbolism in the world around you and align yourself from a position of strength and truth.
For deeper self exploration, I encourage you to utilize the services of the Jungian Psychotherapists who have written Guest Posts and those listed in the Resource section of www.kcjung.org