Your Archetypal Cast & Crew

Theater Masks

I watched the movie “Maleficent” last week. Is the Fairy Godmother character Maleficent, or Beneficent? The story finds both in the same person: hero and villain, Light Giver and Shadow, depending on what? It is the stimuli that affect the character—how she is treated, mainly—that bring out her different personas. Then the other night I was watching a Brain Games segment. They offered a set of personality test questions. One question I answered yes to was: “If you are frustrated do you sometimes “blow up’”? It is pretty rare for me but, yes, sometimes I find there’s a part of me that privately expresses itself by acting out briefly in a sort of tantrum that I have little conscious control over in the moment.

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Think of the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other; have you ever felt that sort of duality around a temptation or a decision? So, what’s that about?

Cherokees say we all have two wolves living within us: a good wolf and a bad one. Which will surface? The one you feed.

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Or how about this: “Who are you” at work compared to “Who are you” with your significant other?  Think of the whole set of SOCIAL ROLES you occupy. As a Teacher, my personality disposition or ‘presentation of self’, especially in a classroom, is quite different from my ‘Friendship’ mode, say camping with friends or walking my dog Sophie. My sisters even find it freaky how I shift into Motherese with my dog, because it is so not like my regular speech.

What about you? What roles do you enact in your life regularly? Do these different social roles or statuses bring out some distinctive aspects of your personality?

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As a cultural anthropologist I find all of this to be VE-E-E-RY interesting, that we shift our presentation of self, from slightly to a lot, in different “role guises.” Then I find myself thinking about… ARCHETYPES of the Unconscious.

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Carl Jung said: “For every typical situation in life, there is an archetype corresponding to that situation.” On one hand, a situation itself has ‘archetypal’ characteristics: features we expect to go along with the typical framing of that kind of occasion.  But if you reflect on the Life Themes that run through your Life Path: those KINDS of situations that are prominent in different phases or aspects of your life, you can see how the character traits associated with your ROLES in these recurring types of life situations (like Family, Work, Relationships, Travel, etcetera) are also archetypal. The Lover, the Teacher, the Warrior, the Mystic, for instance, all embody role traits recognizable in a culture.

When you “put on” a role or status, some archetypal character aspects (I wanted to type “assets”, and they ARE) step forth as it were to enact that role in tandem with your core sense of Self.

So we each have within us an “ensemble cast of mythic archetypal characters”. That is our topic this week and next. To start playing in this sandbox you get to have some playmates: your own ‘inner selves’ that are often submerged except in these role situations, sudden outbursts, and “inner dialogue”.

Origami Mouths For Conversation, Discussion Or Communicating

Your first move, then: I invite you to make a list of the typical roles you occupy and have occupied in your life. Describe some character traits that feel like they ‘come forth’ for you in these roles. What KINDS of characters are these?

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Please feel free to Comment or to Query. Thanks and stay tuned…

Who Are You Now? (and a poem, “Miraculous Surrender” by iithinks)

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We establish LIFE THEMES, or recurring types of situations and events, as we wend our way through life, and this thematic warp and weave of our distinctive lives varies a lot from person to person. Where one person might establish a life of Global Travel and Adventure, another might live primarily dedicated to Service activities, or someone might center their commitment around Children and Grandchildren as their most vital LIFE THEMES.  We each compose an arrangement of several LIFE THEMES that weave through our lives, daily.

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Life Themes are the basis of how we learn and express our social ROLES.  Family roles, Work or Career roles, Relationship roles all require us to develop certain skills and strengths, and slightly different “social personas” that best enact or present these different roles in relation to our major Life Themes. A Doctor, for example, develops a “bedside manner” in the role of Doctor that calls upon specific attitudes and strengths. How we succeed with a Role, or how difficult it might be to succeed with a Role, can affect the development of our total personality and our outlook on life.

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Later I will present the point of view I use with the Life Maps Process that these Life Theme based ROLES might be directly connected with what Carl G. Jung and James Hillman would call your personal unconscious Archetypes.  For now it is enough to see how your Life Themes allow you to develop different aspects of your personality and your “presentation of Self”.  A person may be a Doctor—carrying herself or himself appropriately in that role as a Healer, say—as well as a Parent, which evokes a different set of helpful attitudes and behaviors. Different Roles might even bring about some conflicts in our personal representation of Self; as when a Teacher is also the Parent of a child in his or her classroom.

So I am inviting you to identify your Life Themes this week, using the life mapping tool presented Sunday or in the right panel of this week’s blog. Then ask yourself, “What ROLES have I developed in relation to each Life Theme?”

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You could make a list of corresponding Themes and Roles, as follows, for example:

LIFE THEME                SOCIAL ROLE

Education                     Teacher (or, Student)

Religion                         mystic or seeker

Work                            (leader, or writer/artist, etcetera)

Family                           Mother/Father, Daughter/son/sister/brother

Relationships                Spouse, Lover, Friend, etcetera)

These are only some possible Life Themes and Roles that might relate to them. I encourage you to discover and reflect on your own. Feel free to share your insights or stories!

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I would also like to share with you a beautiful poem today by the brilliant blogger/ poet iithinks, called

MIRACULOUS SURRENDER

Surrender
In patient faith
Let yourself be guided
To miracles dwelling within

Surrender
Wave the white flag
Turn yourself to nothing
Become what lies beyond your dreams