Individuation: Who Are You, Now?

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As we proceed through our ordeals, there is the tendency— the capacity I should say— to ‘break apart.’ Various ‘parts of the Self’ are exposed, often unwittingly, and this is good even though it might feel awful at times. Archetypal personas which live within your psyche and are generally hidden or suppressed may rise to a challenge yet may need to be balanced by other segments of your arc of Identity in order to become better integrated within the whole of your greater Self.

Emotions such as fear, anger and frustration may be telling indicators of a dislodging of some usually buried sub- persona. But be kind to your ‘little selves”; they are valuable, dynamic facets of You. Listen to them, dialogue with them, welcome their insights and concerns. Give them love, and invite them to be a more consciously integrated facet of your Self.

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Challenges or ordeals may bring out these ‘pieces’ of our unconscious pantheon of archetypal perspectives because we grow through crises, constantly tearing apart and reconstructing the Self. So, at every Return phase of a cycle of adventure or resolution of a challenge, we can check in to ask:

“Who Am I, Now?”

Some experiences can serve to elevate our individuated consciousness of Self, while other experiences might tend to pull us downward, deeper into non-resolution or fragmentation. That is why Carl Jung and James Hillman, as archetypal psychologists, encouraged any process of active imagination and archetype dialogue that can help you to identify and ‘own’ your ‘pieces’ so you might re-integrate them into the unique, mature Self you are capable of expressing.

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These parts of Self might show up as an uncharacteristic outburst (or, inburst, unspoken or unexpressed outwardly), alerting you that you are ‘out of sorts.’ Or they might show up as dream personas or images. Recognizing and imaginatively conversing with or journaling about these upset personas’ concerns can help you to embrace your own depths of character. Only not attending to them can split them off in ways that could be harmful to your health or permanently disruptive to your social relations.

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I recall about 5 to 7 years ago while I was engaged in a process of archetypal psychotherapy myself, I had come to know a Descender archetype within myself that I refer to still as Little Linda.  I have watched her grow up through the years since I first identified her as a young child living in a deep, darkened area like a lower level recreation room in a tri-level house. She preferred to stay hidden, protected from the harsh bright realm of adult emotions, backbiting and drama.

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One Saturday while I was at a spiritual retreat just after engaging in a deep contemplation technique, I was speaking with a friend when suddenly Little Linda peeked out from her normal reclusion, and spoke:

“Hi, I’m Little Linda; I am part of the Linda you know.

I want to be part of this seminar, too!”

Fortunately, my friend immediately understood where I was coming from, or should I say, where Little Linda was coming from that day.  He welcomed her and thanked her for stepping forth. Actually that experience has helped me ever since in that my Little Linda has grown up considerably since then and she is certainly with me always now as a positive contributor to our life together.

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images are from pixabay.com

(selected for this post by Little Linda!)

So, “Who Are You, Now?”

I invite your comments stories and stories!

All of You

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Here’s a simple tool you can use to identify your own primary archetypal persona influences: simply make a list of your various social roles.  Parent, friend, spouse, doctor, teacher, artist, writer, etcetera; these are social roles you occupy. List your main roles (I’ll fill in mine as an example for you):

Primary roles

  • Pet parent
  • Teacher
  • Writer
  • Spiritual practitioner
  • Friend
  • Family member
  • Single home owner

Next then, consider the following classes of universal persona archetype forms:

ELDER LEADER   ARTIST  TEACHER

LOVER     IDEALIST    COMMUNICATOR

WARRIOR  GOLDEN CHILD   HEALER

NOURISHER   DESCENDER   MYSTIC

Can you associate each of your ROLES with one or more of these twelve archetype figures? E.G.:

Archetype role associations

Pet parent  :  NOURISHER

Teacher : TEACHER

Writer  :  COMMUNICATOR

Spiritual  :  MYSTIC/ IDEALIST

Friend   :  NOURISHER

Family  :  COMMUNICATOR/ NOURISHER

Single home owner : DESCENDER

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The archetypal influences you have just identified (with regard to your own list) are what I call your Archemes in LIFE PATHS. You learn how to appropriately occupy and enact a social role by drawing upon or assimilating to character traits of these collective archetypal figures.  As you assume or behaviorally enact these archetypal role types, you embrace these identities on both conscious and unconscious levels at the same time. That means, once you have identified with one of these archetype personas, they are always part of you, even unconsciously while you are expressing other modes. And if you have experienced tension or emotional inhibitions with respect to any of your Role identities, this can create archetypal “shadow” traits that might dog your footsteps and interfere with your sense of self-confidence or competence.

Knowing that your archetypal influences are largely associated with your primary roles in life can help you recognize your own character strengths and weaknesses as well as your self-limiting qualities. Also thinking of your Archemes as an “ensemble cast of Allies” can help you bring together your various role-“guises” to forge and express a more unified Self.

So after identifying your Archemes, you can also look at what strengths you draw from these influences (and you can understand some of your challenges, too).  How can you combine some of your strengths across these archetypal forms to pursue a major goal, one that will benefit from having  “all of you” activated rather than one ‘part’ or another?

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E.G. Designing life after retirement [Readers: You can consider your own Major Goal similarly]

Teacher traits:  part-time teaching if needed; continuing with life maps coaching and workshops;

Communicator traits: continue with writing/ publishing;

Nourisher traits: Move closer to family, care well for pets, maintain & expand friendships;

Descender traits: Create space for solitude, contemplation

Mystic traits:  Share ideas in new location, form groups, etc.;

Idealist traits: Go for it! (fulfill Life Dream, travel, beautify environs and home!)

COMBINED:  “service” orientation in all areas.

In sum, as Socrates reminded us all: “KNOW THYSELF!”

I invite your insights and stories!