One of the tools I use for my OD consulting and coaching work is Inner Archetype Search. One of the wonderful gifts archetypes have for us is that they are always there, inside us, and can be awaken or activated, either by external stimuli or through inner work (which, by the way, can be really fun). So, today, I found myself activating my inner ORPHAN, along with my inner LOVER and SEEKER.
Our inner ORPHAN helps us realize that something has been lost, that in certain respect, the world turned out not to be what we thought it was and, especially, the way we thought it was to stay. So, here we are faced already with a form of unwanted change. If we get stuck in the pain, frustration, anger that may be triggered by our loss, our ORPHAN may go the the 'dark side', remain in our shadow and come out in unwanted, unpredictable, and toxic ways. By the way, this applies to all archetypes. But if we accept our ORPHAN's call, and accept the fact that there has been a loss, then we can hear the next thing that our ORPHAN is telling us, which is that we are not alone, it isn't happening just to us, and we don't have to go through it alone. Maybe, even, we shouldn't. That doesn't mean that somebody else will do the work for us. Of course not. It means that, while we do it, we can walk along other ORPHANS who have experienced a similar loss. Probably, by now you are already thinking about certain types of organizations or certain individuals that embody this archetype.
Here is when our inner LOVER may kick in (as mine did this morning). This one can be very straightforward: our inner LOVER takes care of us, wants the best for us, and its voice reminds us that we are worth it, and that we deserve to be in peace and happy. Our inner LOVER is very helpful in keeping us away from self-sabotaging us or self-defeating thoughts, feelings, and actions. If our inner WARRIOR is well and awake, it will push us to wanting to do something. But to do what? That's where our inner SEEKER comes handy. It did for me this morning.
The SEEKER archetype is also quite clear: whenever we feel like we need or want, or have a hunch about the existence of something different, new, unknown, that's our inner SEEKER calling. If we listen to it, then we are giving ourselves the chance to find a way to move forward, to get out of being stuck, to find a new way, the new path that we probably need.
So, this is the background info. Now, what happened today?
It took just a couple of minutes. I was thinking about how tired and disappointed I am of an organization I've been working with for about 18 moths now, and the word "stuck" came to my mind, quite loud and painful. I have very low tolerance for certain types of "stability", especially in settings where stability is not invested in pursuing a dream, fulfilling a purpose. So, here I was, feeling a deep disappointment (here's the loss), and telling myself that I love my other lines of work, the ones I do solo , but there is a part of me that craves team work, team effort, a plural way of giving back to society (societies, in my case), learning and growing in community.
Now, I'm currently working FOR an employer is out of question. First of all, I wouldn't want to, unless I could function as an INTRAPRENEUR with no strings attached, and be able to keep doing my solo work. Second, even if I wanted to, I seem to have been labeled as "not employable" due to my age, plain and simple (more loss here).
At this point of my thinking, I was already fully immerse in my ORPHAN, and here was when the name of three people I know, two in the US and one in Catalonia, came to my mind. They also carry the same "not employable" abel, feeling the same craving for meaningful and purposeful team work ,and at some point, not long ago, found themselves having to (not wanting to, as it was my case), setting up their own solo business. This was my inner ORPHAN telling me 'you are not alone'. I could have stayed there, but I know my inner WARRIOR has been fully active for a long time now, and it took me just seconds to hear my inner SEEKER kicking in, fast and loud, and say to myself: "Why should we all go solo all the time?" "Why should we stay in this partially reactive mode?" "Why couldn't we explore the possibility of setting up a small company, with 4 or 6 of us, half women half men, with the explicit purpose of giving back to society by offering to society added value coming from what makes people like us a gift, a jewell: our age, and everything that comes with it?"
Because yes, we are a gift, a jewell. We are at a point where most people around us are not. We may have already over 20, 25, 30 years of professional experience, and still have other 20, 25 ahead. We have gone, or are going, through our midlife crisis, a unique time of cleaning, renewal, and a chance to become more complete, more who we really can be, each one of us in his or her own way and circumstances. It is not only that society needs us; it is also that we deserve to be needed, appreciated, rightly valued, and sought after. Because we're worth it.
I don't have to tell you that hat was my inner LOVER talking.
Does any of this sound familiar? Most likely, it does. These archetypes are inside all of us, and they may be very quick: it's taken me about an hour and a half to write this, to share with you all about a minute of my thinking. And that's how it works.
You can read about these archetypes, with examples, here:
I work with the following archetypes:
Each one of them has its own characteristics that make it clearly different from the other ones. Each one brings a life task that we must complete, and through which we learn a life lesson. Ultimately, each one of these archetypes hides a gift for us, a treasure that becomes part of our life, our growth, and our individuation process when we live the archetype in the most positive way possible.
Our inner work with our archetypes allows us to become more aware of their existence, as well as of the way they manifest themselves (or not) in us. From that increased awareness, we can activate those archetypes that are not and empower even more the ones that are guiding us at any given moment in our life. By doing all this, we develop a sense of perspective that helps us to understand our inner life and its outer manifestations with unusual clarity, intensity, and sense of control over our own life. It is not easy to describe the resultant feeling of inner well being and how it projects outside of us. We could say that it is a unique way of felling fulfilled and complete.
Remember that archetypes are not other people, or sets of qualities that other people have but we don't. As I explained in one of my first posts, archetypes are parts of us, "different ways of being, thinking, feeling, and acting that we all have inside us, because they all are part of the collective unconscious. These archetypes develop throughout our whole life, are always active, although not always in the same ways nor with the same intensity, and are both guides and manifestations of our journey."
So, what part of us corresponds to the RULER?
In a few words, the inner RULER is the part of us that allows us to take charge of our own life, of our own stuff, whatever that stuff is. But the RULER doesn't just get stuff done randomly, but with a purpose: making our lives the way we want them to be, trying to bring long-lasting fulfillment, wellbeing, harmony, peace.
In our personal lives, this might show as acting upon things that need to be put in order, organized, taken care of (for example, keeping close track of our home finances, or keeping up with our shared responsibilities towards our loved ones). Every time we tell ourselves that we need to do something that is waiting in our to-do list, we are calling upon our RULER to get out there and get things done.
Every archetype has also its shadow side. In the case of the RULER, the shadow may fall either on the side of neglect or irresponsibility, or on the side of seeking control or power just for the sake of it, or to pursue our own toxic purposes.
We are acting from our healthy inner RULER, for example, when we have a conversation we must have, when we look for a way to find the potential in people around us, when we keep our kids safe, when we listen to ourselves and honor our own voice, when we tell the truth.
If there is somebody (real person or fictional character) you intensely admire because of the way they do those things, bring that somebody back to your here-and-now to awake your inner RULER. Find your "Ruler role-model", and let yourself feel your admiration, and then, act as if you were capable of being as admirable as them. By doing so, you will be bringing your inner RULER from whoever you're projecting it on to back inside you, where it really belongs.
The central task of the RULER as an inner archetype is to take full responsibility for our life, and express our deeper Self in the world we are in contact with. This expression of the deeper Self requires accepting and integrating our leadership role and, from it, using our power in an appropriate way in order to make a positive impact around us.
As with the other archetypes inside us, it is possible to overcome the resistance to accept the Ruler that we all have inside when the time to wake him up comes. From inside us, or from outside of us, it is possible to activate the archetype so that its energy consciously becomes part of what we think, feel, do, and express around us.
In this scene from The Lord Of The Rings. The Return Of The King, we see an example of, on one hand, the intervention of the subconscious through a dream and, on the other hand, an external intervention, accompanied by the symbolic power of an object and the contact with it. Both the dream and the conversation aim at taking Aragorn to overcome his own fears and doubts, and fully embrace his destiny as the future King.
In this example, the inner RULER, the archetype, matches its outer manifestation, as the social role of the character is to become his land's ruler. In our daily lives, however, our inner RULER may manifest as we find our strength to make a decision, to put order in our home finances, to make clear where the limits are in an uncomfortable interaction, or the help our co-workers to find their direction in a new project.
As an inner archetype, the DESTROYER is the part of us that helps us accept and manage the pain provoked by endings, disappearance, death, of something or somebody, as part of our own life's evolution process. In non extreme cases, the Destroyer helps us understand the need and the positive aspects of detachment, of not being afraid of situations, relationships, experiences, etc. that come to an end. In more extreme cases (such as the death of a beloved person, or violence), our inner Destroyer helps us understand that this type of destruction exists as well, and that we need to activate our best resources to go through the pain we are feeling.
When the Destroyer manifests its shadow, that is, its more unpleasant, negative, damaging, toxic expression, it can take us to self-destructive behaviors, self-sabotages, or even behaviors aiming at harming other people, as in any form of abuse and physical, emotional or psychological violence.
In this scene from A Time To Kill, we see an example of how the shadow Destroyer is activated. The story takes place in Canton, Mississippi. A white lawyer has as his client an African-American man who murdered the two white men who raped and killed his 10-year old daughter. In his closing argument, the lawyer moves away from the strategy of trying to prove to the members of the jury that his client is also a good man, and works on awakening in them the murderer that we all have inside, as a possible manifestation of our inner Destroyer's shadow. By doing this, the lawyer triggers a psychological identification (at a deep level) as well as emotional, with the defendant. This identification transcends the rational level and the racism that is at the very center of the story. What happens after this scene is irrelevant and it has more to do with a commercial logic rather than a psychological one and, in any case, it doesn't invalidate anything related to the archetype work. This work, by the way, is so intense that, at some point, the lawyer barely can control his own emotional reaction to the impact of what he is purposely doing.
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