Friday, 13 September 2013

Archetypes and Self~Knowledge


The Icehouse Quarter, Barking
In a couple of weeks I am embarking on a series of 2~hour ‘taster’ workshops hosted by Jasmine Street Creative Lab at The Granary, Ice House Quarter, Abbey Road, Barking.[1] As I put my mind to the content of the workshops I find myself alert for and responding to the rhythms of these ingrained patterns of behaviour as they communicate via people’s vocal chords.

A voice on the telephone speaks of the saboteur inherent in each of us. This person is on the verge of venturing out from a comfort zone into the big wide world to confront the unknown. She speaks of it in terms of ‘facing her fear’ ~ the saboteur. Most of us know this feeling, it creeps up in the context of daily activity – going for a job interview, the first date with someone new, your first public speaking experience. Anxiety and a level of fear grip the pit of your stomach.

I once asked someone how he felt at the point of standing up in the House of Lords for the first time to make his ‘maiden’ speech. A polished public speaker within his own sphere of influence, this man  said ‘I felt as if I was about to @*#* myself, it was such a horrendous first few minutes, until I got into my stride, then I began to enjoy myself.  

Our four archetypes of ‘survival’ as Myss calls them – Child, Victim, Prostitute and Saboteur – invade every aspect and decision~making process of our lives. When they operate from a disempowered place, the CHILD says “I’m afraid to leave home”, the PROSTITUTE jumps in and says “You can’t afford to leave home because you are not prepared to pay the price for becoming independent; you’ll never make it on your own, so forget about it”.

The VICTIM says, “Every time an opportunity comes up for you to leave, I’ll think of a reason why it won’t work, because deep down you do not have the self esteem to take up that challenge; inside you’re just a little scaredy cat”. Then the SABOTEUR says, “I’ll use your fear to keep sabotaging all your opportunities to leave, until you get a backbone that will enable you to get past me”.

The four of them coerce, inveigle, influence and convince us to stay within our comfort zone, or ‘home’, whatever that may mean, so you never discover and explore new horizons, until you develop that backbone. "Leaving home" can mean going away from all that is known and familiar; anything outside of culture, tribe, religion, habitual behaviour, as well as home town or country.

Yesterday I came across one particular archetype expressing itself through the vocal chords of a stranger I met at a social event. Something about this person impinged on my awareness as we passed each other, going in opposite directions in a room full of people. Next thing I knew there she was sitting on my table and soon we were deep in conversation. It turned out that Janice (not her real name) hailed from Chicago – one of my favourite cities in the United States, and where I spent considerable time from the beginning of 2005 to the end of 2006. She also lived a short distance away from where I did my training with Caroline Myss. She is interested in the development of young people, regeneration and community, as I am.

I gave Janice a leaflet for the workshop and responded to her curiosity about it all. The daily engagement with aspects of personality has become as familiar to me as breathing. My daughter who is a Kinesiologist (muscle testing to identify imbalances in the body) often tells me that people's bones and muscles talk to her as she passes them on the street because they are in such distress. A closer look reveals a cricked neck or back, or hips out of alignment. The body has been pushed into compensation mode and we do not even notice when it is under stress until it turns into something much more serious that needs medication or surgical intervention. 

So it is with archetypes, they speak all the time and are waymarkers if only we could hear and understand. Not only had Janice’s Heroine archetype propelled her that very day to get on a bicycle and ride all the way from South London to Essex to attend a community event, it had also taken her from ‘home’ to unfamiliar shores to seek a different experience.
Journey of personal empowerment

The Heroine’s ‘passion for a journey of personal empowerment’ will take up the Saboteur’s challenge and bolster the prostitute's ability to survive without selling out; assures the child that it is okay to be adventurous and encourages the victim to develop the self~esteem to stand fearlessly in the world.

I wondered whether Janice knows of her Heroine's existence. Acquiring self~knowledge changes lives.

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