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Growing your Archetypes

March 15, 2012

You know there are four basic archetypes, right? There is the Warrior, Lover, Magician, and Sovereign. Wisdom comes from knowing when to access which archetype. And it is your inner Sovereign who knows which of the other three to call on  when the need arises. The following story illustrates what happens when you are undeveloped in one or more of the archetypes.

I met Jane just after her husband John had died. She was tall, intelligent, and at 60 years of age, was still a very attractive redhead in her blue jeans and black blouse. Sitting on the foot of the bed with John’s body laying in it, Jane wasn’t crying, she was panicked. She said she felt lost and didn’t know what she was going to do. Her story revealed her dilemma and what forty years of dependency had cost her.

She met John when she was a teenager and he was in his late twenties. When she hit 18, he was 30 and determined to sweep her off her feet. Now, 42 years later, he was dead and for the first time in her life she was on her own. She related she had always stood in his shadow. She was an old-fashioned wife who lived to support her husband. They never had children and her thoughts had only ever been toward helping him be successful.

But his illness had started five years ago and was a steady drain on their finances until now, it was all gone. The house, the car, the savings, everything was sacrificed for his treatment. His decline had started with a stroke which impeded his reasoning and speech. He was a big man and so when he couldn’t walk or care for himself anymore, he had to go to a nursing home. She had spent everything for his care. And I guess that was the right thing to do. But now she had nothing and was faced with trying to re-invent herself at 60.

The long-illness had given her plenty of time to grieve. That was good and she was very comfortable with this role of the Lover archetype. She knew she had more grieving to do, but her primary feeling now was of “lostness.” So we talked about that. And I had the feeling I was talking to a child. She lamented she couldn’t make decisions because she was used to having John make them for her. She had totally abdicated the Sovereign role to her husband.

I tried to help her believe in herself and that, as an adult, she could accomplish anything she wanted. She responded with, “I don’t know what I want.” I identified some of her positive qualities (intelligent, well-travelled, savvy) and she responded, “I have a hard time believing that.” I pointed out her whole life was in front of her and she was free to do anything she wanted and she responded again with, “I don’t know what I want.” We were back to where we started.

As I sat with her waiting for the mortuary staff to arrive, I pondered her situation. She had lived her life in Lover-land. In her love and support of her husband, she had never developed her interior Warrior, Magician, or Sovereign. She very much needed them now. Her inner Magician would help her formulate a plan and discern what needed to be done and her inner Warrior needed to step out and execute the plan. She had given all her power away to her husband. He called the shots, she lived as his dependent, and so she remained a child inside. She had zero Sovereign energy. There is something uniquely sad about an adult who lives as a child.

I empathized with her and did not judge her. But I did help her see her situation and the possible solution. What she needed most now was support. And because she had no inner Sovereign, she could not give that support to herself. She needed to find it outside herself. I encouraged her to plug back into her church, to talk to her minister friend, and to take advantage of the free Grief Support our hospice could offer her. Sometimes, when we can’t believe in ourselves, others can model that belief for us. Sometimes, but not always.

I am hopeful she will grow in the next year. And she is too. The last thing she said to me before we parted was, “Now that John is gone, I don’t have anymore excuses. I need to stand on my own two feet. If it is going to be, it is up to me.” That was her Sovereign speaking and it was refreshing.

How about you? How balanced are your archetypes? How comfortable are you making decisions? Do you know what you want? Are you able to find the balance between asserting your will and releasing your agenda in order to serve others? Think about it and drop me a line to let me know how it is going for you.


One Comment leave one →
  1. May 4, 2012 10:55 pm

    Thank you! I had read about Archetypes, in fact learnt about it in a leadership training where they used the Archetypes to create body postures to induce the appropriate behaviour, but I had not appreciated it as much as I do now after reading this post of yours. Thanks.

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