Archetypes and what they mean for your journey through life

As it’s drawing towards the end of the year, it’s a good time to ask yourself what changes you want to make to take you to the next level. This article focuses on Archetype Analysis – a model that shows us the circle of journeys we take through life and what we need to help us along the way.

In times gone by, people were expected to ‘know their place’ depending on the circumstances of their birth. They certainly wouldn’t have chosen their own path to fulfilling their potential.

Today, the world is ever-changing. People have more freedom, and we can shape our destiny and achieve self-actualisation.

In our 20s, we go through much change and learning, and therefore pretty much whatever we do moves us forward. In our 30s-50s, we have probably accumulated more responsibilities in our life – career, family and financial. At this stage, people are often more cautious and fearful of taking risks as they feel they have more to lose.

Questions for you to consider

Are you in the process of building something or letting go? For example:

  • Should you take that job you’ve been offered?
  • Do you opt for redundancy or stay in a role you don’t really want?
  • Do you remain with your current partner or dare to be alone?
  • If your children are about to leave home, are you rethinking your life purpose?
  • Do you buy a new house or stay where you are?

This links to last month’s article about The Power of Vulnerability.

What is Archetype Analysis?

Archetype Analysis is a tool that’s been developed over the past 35 years by personal development specialist, Dr Carol Pearson, based on work by Swiss psychologist, Karl Jung. It helps people see what behaviour is required at what stage of life’s journeys.

It’s a useful approach, because many of us have a ‘life script’ of how we should be and act that’s based on our childhood. However, this can restrict our openness to change and different ways of living.

Archetype Analysis presents 12 archetypes which are useful at different stages of a journey, because each has a ‘gift’ to help you on your way:

Preparing for a journey
        Innocent: Developing the trust, confidence and optimism to take the journey
        Orphan: Recognising that bad things happen, and developing realism
        Warrior: Learning to compete, set goals, and defend yourself when necessary
        Caregiver: Showing care, concern and compassion for others; helping
Taking the journey
        Seeker: Being willing to be different, having the courage to try new things
        Lover: Loving others, being romantic, intimate and making commitments
        Destroyer: Letting go and starting over, taking action to end bad situations
        Creator: Demonstrating imagination, innovation and cleverness
Returning from the journey
        Ruler: Taking charge, being responsible, living according to your values
        Magician: Changing what happens by altering your own thoughts or behaviours
        Sage: Thinking clearly, critically, and formulating your own opinions
        Jester: Enjoying your life and work, being here now

This model draws parallels with childhood stories about the hero who goes to slay the dragon, rescue the damsel in distress (although us modern women don’t need rescuing, thanks very much!), and return with gifts for the kingdom.

The journey

It’s essential to let go of any predetermined view of what your journey ‘should’ be, and allow yourself to take your own route to whatever makes you feel happy and fulfilled. You can then be less caught up in proving yourself.

The quality of our life depends on the journeys we have taken and the gifts, lessons and decisions we’ve acquired along the way.

We return having found new wisdom that helps us realise the benefit of the journey. However, this is usually short-lived. As soon as we enter a new phase of our life, we are propelled into a new journey.

This can be a useful analogy when helping people with their personal growth and also when trying to sell the idea of organisational change.

Some people turn back when they reach the abyss, because it’s scary to step off into the unknown. You have to be brave to do it. But you can’t keep relying on past successes. Do you and your people have the courage to embark on the next stage of the journey? Maybe you could tell the story of a time when you chose to change career although you were cosy in your previous job. What did you go through? Where did you end up? My article on story-telling may help you use this model to inspire others (individuals, teams, or your organisation) to step into the unknown in order to create their better and more fulfilled future.

Take action

You already have all 12 archetypes within you. To find out which archetype is currently dominant in your life, do the questionnaire in Carol S Pearson’s book Awakening the Heroes Within. You will also learn which archetype/s you need to enhance in order to enable you to move on to the next stage in your journey, so you can use their gifts and avoid the pitfalls.

If you would like to have the test interpreted, please talk to me.

I hope you use the opportunity of the break at Christmas to reflect on 2014 and decide your path for 2015 and beyond – good luck and enjoy the journey!

In January, we build on this month’s article and focus on how to get the courage to step out of your comfort zone.

If you found this information useful, please click the social media buttons below, to share a link to this article with your network, and let me know if you’d like more details about this topic.