The new way to happiness and fulfillment
We’re living in a very affluent society, but has the state of our economy enriched your life? Do you feel fulfilled and happy? Economic wealth is only part of the fulfilment equation. The time has come to balance the equation and bring us all into a state of “holistic wealth”. That means every individual discovering how to recognise, validate and realise their dreams, and making an essential difference to others in the process. Understanding your personal archetypes can provide you with a road map for your journey back to happiness.
There is an epidemic of soul sickness in our society today. When you lose connection with your core, you lose connection with your soul and purpose. That’s soul sickness and it is characterised by a feeling that there is no real point to your life. The wonderful thing about such crises is that they invite you to examine your life. Such times of introspection offer an opportunity to bring your life into alignment with your purpose and dreams. So how did you get so far away from your dreams in the first place?
Signs of soul sickness:
- Lack of direction
- Time poverty
- Relationship breakdowns
- Career crises
- Financial woes
- Health challenges
- Lack of balance
- Feeling lost and overwhelmed
- Could you be all of the archetypes? (Do they all seem the same to you?!)
- Do you keep your social, family and work groups separate?
- Do you have memory problems and find naming your feelings almost impossible?
- Are you an expert at blending in and pleasing others?
- Do you change your mind often?
- Do you hate people knowing your private business?
- Do you avoid speaking up or revealing your true feelings and thoughts?
- Are you a chronic procrastinator who often criticises (bullies) yourself harshly?
- Do you compulsively hide from conflict and remain silent?
- Has your shyness and fear of taking risks held you back?
- Do you solve emotional problems with physical health solutions?
- Do you physically train regularly but believe you could do more?
- Are you nonplussed by overweight people’s lack of motivation to “fix” their weight problem?
- Do you love to beat your personal best, and is excellence in all things important to you?
- Have you ever hurt or abused yourself in the quest to achieve?
- Are you a warrior queen with a sharp intellect and an analytical, visionary mind?
- Will you fight for social and intellectual truth and justice?
- Are you a woman who has fought for equality in a man’s world?
- Have others sometimes described you as cold, arrogant or aloof?
- Can you be bossy, pedantic, driven, a perfectionist and very critical of self and others?
- Do you love deep and meaningful conversations?
- Have you often questioned life to the point of paralysis and depression?
- Do you fall into despair when you lose your meaning of life and belief system?
- Have you “thrown the baby out with the bathwater” when discovering a flaw in your beliefs?
- Have your profound contemplations and search for meaning helped make sense of life?
- Are you engaged in alternative spiritual practices?
- Have you created a sacred space at home or in the garden and do you enjoy rituals?
- Have you helped others through literal/symbolic times of death, birth or major transitions?
- Do you withdraw to your “temple” and seem cold and spiritually arrogant at times?
- Do you have an expressive, bohemian sense of style and colour?
Where are you?
As part of growing up, you are encouraged to discount your intuitive knowledge and talents. Too often, we are encouraged to push on with a life that may not be the life we really want or choose. Compromise after compromise inevitably results in some form of crisis. This happens when there is too little time or desire to connect and contemplate where you are really going, and an innate and unconscious fear to explore too deeply who you really are; in other words, life just sort of “happened”.
The crises that result from becoming lost in this way affect your relationships, career, health and finances with increasing regularity. If this is resonating with you, the time has come for the compromises to end. It is far too painful and meaningless to continue to hide and indulge them. Joy comes from embracing all of who you are and having the courage to step out towards your true dreams. You need to be living the life you were born and destined to live, and share your talents and gifts with as many as you can in your communities. This is the major ingredient for happiness and holistic wealth: sharing your dreams, passions and gifts with others.
Of course, it is not so easy. Simply wanting to live your dreams does not necessarily make it happen. Self-doubt and confusion so often reign, along with their best friends: fear and harsh criticism. Together they can paralyse your ability to make real choices so that you become unable to live authentically, passionately or courageously. Even when one part of you may want to live genuinely, there is often another part which knows that if you do embrace and become all that you can be, others will see you! This can be very challenging.
We all fear rejection, public mistakes or failing. So, unconsciously or consciously, we choose to hide, falsely believing that that is a safer choice which will protect us from rejection and pain. The reality is that when we do this, we are self-rejecting and that, in turn, attracts external rejection. Self-rejection is not safe; it is incredibly frustrating and painful. Making glorious mistakes is the secret, because successes always follow! When you deny the destiny your dreams are trying to lead you to, you disconnect from your soul. The way forward from this destructive cycle is to learn about your archetypes.
What is an archetype?
Archetypes are compulsive and dominant personality traits. All archetypes have shadow and light sides, like two sides of a coin. We each have a unique combination of many archetypes that name every aspect of our complex personalities. Every archetype has its own set of talents, values, ambitions, beliefs, passions, gifts, contradictions, underlying agendas and challenges. We all intuitively understand them; children as young as six can grasp them. We all know what a princess, gypsy, queen, scholar, teacher, miser, hostess, Olympian, detective or lover are like; they are archetypes that dwell within us.
We are all born with them, though they are shaped by the ways we have been nurtured. Archetypes describe universal life experiences we have all had and can recognise or relate to. They are present in every drama, movie, television show, comedy, novel, fairytale and myth. They determine your tastes, style, interests and choices.
Shadow and light
There are specific light and shadow traits within every archetype. The shadow comprises those traits we do not like in ourselves or others and often react to. We would never include them on our resume or intentionally reveal them on a first date. They are the things you judge in yourself and find hard to forgive. Understanding that you can’t have your talents without your shadows helps in accepting yourself, warts and all. Bossiness, arrogance, bullying, silence, coldness, manipulation, sulking, whining, procrastinating, hiding, minimising, pessimism, undermining, blaming, doubting, fearing, pretending, judging and devaluing – these are all examples of shadow behaviour.
We only express our shadow when feeling inadequate or self-rejecting. It is a way of urgently asking for reassurance and support. Yet it does not produce the results we are looking for.
Light traits include being generous, free, supportive, loving, genuine, honest, optimistic, courageous, passionate, open, assertive, disciplined, patient, creative, spontaneous, authentic, trusting, believing and taking responsibility. The specific talents that lie within each archetype are too numerous to mention, but include all our innate abilities and passions.
Archetypes are neutral, because they all have their challenges (the shadow) and their gifts (the light). The archetypes are a wonderful, non-judgmental language that names exactly who you are and why you are here. Many of us are living on automatic pilot, following paths we fell into rather than chose. Knowledge of your archetypes puts you back on track in your life. If you are still on track, the archetypes will then serve to increase your confidence in the path you’ve chosen and help you recognise talents that have been underdeveloped and that will further serve your purpose. You’ll become even more proactive. Archetypes name who you are, they do not label you. Labels are negative and judgmental by nature, limiting your perspective. Archetypes inspire, motivate and expand your vision for your life. They help you to achieve holistic wealth.
The DNA of your soul
Your unique cluster of light traits names your purpose and the talents you must develop to be happy and fulfilled. Your unique cluster of shadows reveals all the challenges and lessons you have to learn in life, and the mistakes you will inevitably make. Your dreams and passions are always validated by your archetypes. By looking honestly inside yourself and identifying your archetypes, you will uncover your dreams.
Life is about listening to and validating your dreams, then becoming proactive and courageous enough to achieve them. The more you repress your light, the stronger the expression of your shadow and the greater the depression and holistic sickness.
Archetypes in action
The archetypes are your individual body, mind, heart and soul map that shows you the way forward. By learning from and overcoming your shadows, you are able to fulfil your destiny. Dreams become reality. Knowledge of your archetypes provides a recipe for putting the pieces of your life and dreams together in a magical and inspiring way, giving you a life of holistic health and wealth.
To get you started thinking about what archetypes drive you, here is a sample of six common ones. If you can answer “yes” to four or five of the questions posed, you probably have that archetype operating within you. Find out what your friends and loved ones have too. Remember, we all have many archetypes within us, which can often be contradictory. No archetype is bad; they all have light and shadow traits.
Chameleons are versatile people who are sensitive to their surroundings and experts at remaining invisible. They can be shy and often lose their sense of self. They can find connecting to their bodies and feelings challenging. Lack of self-awareness and a compulsion to please others can lead them on unsatisfying paths. Chameleons can be clueless about pleasing themselves. When able to connect emotionally and feeling strong and secure in their sense of self, they become colourful and dynamic. Knowing who they are with archetypes is invaluable.
The Lion Coward
Lion cowards hate conflict, yet are often in inner turmoil. They often remain silent, refusing to reveal their opinions and feelings to anyone when in shadow. Making personal revelations threatens them as they expect others will reject them if they know them. They are experts at avoiding intimacy. This archetype can be cripplingly shy. They fear trying new things, though they are often physically brave. They need to find their voice and roar. The lion coward can suffocate all the talents from their other archetypes. When they become the light lion, their lives transform.
Olympians have to exercise to be happy. They often push themselves too hard, but they’ll deny this. They hate laziness and fear losing control of any aspect of life, especially their bodies and weight. They’re disciplined yet often fail to nurture their bodies when needing to rest or recover from injury. They want to get on with life and can find discussions about philosophy and emotive situations tedious. They solve life issues by eating better, being healthy and increasing their exercise routine and mental strength, even though this doesn’t resolve relationship issues or other life crises. They’re inspirational in their courage to be the best they can be.
Pallas Athenas are often feminists and advocates for various causes. They constantly try to prove themselves with their achievements and can live as if holding a shield in one hand and a spear in the other. They’re suspicious of people they deem over-friendly and take a long time to trust others. They fear losing control, and are perfectionists who hide in their intellects. They hate being vulnerable and mistrust emotions. They are excellent strategists and planners and do everything thoroughly. In the light they are balanced and creative, and allow their feminine side expression. They can be very powerful, wise and multi-talented leaders.
Philosophers have been asking eternal questions such as “What are we here for?” and “Is there life after death?” since they could think. Their answers determine their state of mind and happiness. Without a philosophy, they flounder and live a half-existence. They can forget to walk their talk or apply their philosophies to real life dilemmas. They ask so many questions, they end up confused and paralysed, doing nothing. You’ll often hear a shadow philosopher say, “What’s the point?” The answer lies within their meaning of life. Trusting life when there are no answers is part of the journey. Philosophers can help us all make better sense of life.
Priestesses are strongly connected to their inner feminine and help others to access their unconscious and inner wisdom. They love alternative spiritual practices. They often fear persecution for their beliefs and many believe they have suffered for their beliefs in past lives. They are private people. They can mistrust the masculine and are often financially challenged, preferring to work in service without receiving adequate payment. Priestesses are spiritual midwives helping others through major life transitions and changes. Stepping out into the world with their gifts is their challenge.
Author, psychotherapist and motivational speaker Katie Altham is constantly touring Australia with workshops. See her website www.archetrek.com for details. Her book Who am I? An Archetypal Quest is available now.