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Shadow work coaching

Personal Growth: Capacities & Archetypes

Personal growth & archetypal capacities

An important component of personal growth and development involves accessing and developing those latent capacities that can support us to live a full, happy and meaningful life. These capacities include: Intimacy, self-confidence, inner strength, clarity of mind, creativity, assertiveness, compassion, spontaneity, vision, life purpose and so on.

 

Jungian archetypal theory (Carl Jung 1875 -1961) teaches us about our inherent capacities and offers a simple lens through which to view our capability and potential - our natural endowment as human beings. Higher levels of consciousness, inner growth and development are real possibilities, and they require conscious work to achieve.

 

The archetypal lens can be used as a simple model of the psyche, facilitating our own inner inquiry. The archetypal lens is a gateway through which we can begin to understand and to see how our previous experiences might influence our ability to access and express these capacities. As human beings we all have access to these capacities but the extent to which we express them differs, and is determined by our experience, background and upbringing. Negative emotional, psychological or abusive experiences from our parents or siblings, our friends, teachers or culture can create barriers to the access of these healthy and full ways of inhabiting what it is to be human and fully showing up in the world.

Archetypes can be seen as specific areas of personality that hold certain qualities and act as blueprints for our emotional expression which cause us to react in a typical way to basic human experiences. The archetypal lens and underpinning theory can be a very useful shared framework to employ as we explore your experience and how you show up in the world, your strengths, your challenges, and your difficultiesBy exploring how these areas of personality show up in your life and by identifying and exploring the experiences or wounding that have led to these parts of you closing down, we can work towards the goal of you having full and balanced access to these archetypes and the associated human capacities.

Understanding archetypal theory can help you to make sense of the patterns you notice and experience in your life and identify where they have come from. With this insight you will see for yourself what needs to happen in order for you to access your authentic sense of identity and authenticity.

There are many different references to many different archetypes which describe different aspects of human experience. The archetypes in the four quadrant model are the Sovereign (or Heart Centred Leader), Warrior (or Action Taker), Magician (or Transformer), and Lover (or Feeling Body): their respective areas of influence being leading, taking action, thinking, and feeling. 

The four quadrant archetypal model

The four quadrant archetypal model views the psyche as being divided into four distinct archetypal energies - areas of personality that can be viewed as sub-personalities or parts of us that stand alone and function almost autonomously as separate entities within us. Each of them carries a particular energy and capacities, and can act as a semiautonomous part of our psyche with its own motivations, desires, feelings, thoughts, and way of being in the world.

The archetypes in the four quadrant model are the Sovereign (or Heart Centred Leader), Warrior (or Action Taker), Magician (or Transformer), and Lover (or Feeling Body): their respective areas of influence being leading, taking action, thinking, and feeling.

 

The Sovereign (or Heart Centred Leader)

The Sovereign is the part of us that is heart-centred, that loves and cares for us deeply and unconditionally. It is the part of us that can nurture and offer deep acceptance and compassion both for ourselves and for others. This emerges through an embodied sense of worthiness, and grounded sense of self-esteem. It is the part of us that leads, guides, and nurtures, seeing both the weakness and strengths in others, blessing and affirming. It is where our wisdom lives. The Sovereign establishes our moral compass and offers us direction in life, holding vision and purpose. Our Sovereign is grounded, with clarity and compassion, and is able to hold the wounded parts of ourselves with love.

A pdf document exploring in greater depth the archetype of The Sovereign can be found here.

Warrior (or Action Taker)

Our Warrior is the part of us that takes effective action in our life. It is the part of us that can set and hold strong boundaries in order for us to navigate our lives with safety and authenticity. It is the part of us that is authentic, in integrity, accountable, and takes responsibility for both the intended and unintended consequences of our actions. It is the part of us that is assertive, that knows and defends our needs in the deep knowledge that she has a right to exist just as she is. It is the part of us that can communicate effectively and speak up when needed from a healthy and boundried sense of self and identity. The emotion associated with the Warrior is anger: we must have a healthy relationship with our anger if we are to have access to this archetype in its fullness.

A pdf document exploring in more depth the archetype of The Warrior can be found here.

The Magician (or Transformer)

Our Magician is the part of us that is creative and can bring into existence that which has not existed before. It is the part of us that can problem solve and has the ability to come up with new ideas: To initiate, bring life (healer), and to teach. It is the part of us that can see clearly, that can have perspective and that can detach in order to see things differently and come up with possibilities.  It is the part of us that can see patterns, evaluate, and reframe. It is the place of rationality, of intellect, understanding, and abstract thinking. The place of planning, strategising and reflection. It is the part of us that is vigilant and responsible for protection - Highly attuned to the environment, creating strategies to keep us safe, physically, socially, emotionally. The emotion associated with the Magician is fear: we must be willing to be alongside our fear, know it and hold it, if we are to have access to this archetype in its fullness.

A pdf document exploring in greater depth the archetype of The Magician can be found here.

The Lover (or Feeling Body)

Our Lover or feeling body is all about connection. Connection to ourselves and to others. Our Lover is connected to his feelings, his body, his sensuality and his sexuality. It carries the primal energies of vividness, aliveness, passion, enthusiasm and fun. He is spontaneous and seeks the joy and delight in the sensory experiences of life. Our Lover is boundless, open and vulnerable. It is the place of our innocent inner child. It is through our Lover that we experience sadness and grief, the natural response to loss of any kind: it is grief that must have the freedom to flow fully within us if we are to have access to this archetype in its fullness. 

A pdf document exploring in greater depth the archetype of The Lover can be found here.

Warrior
Sovereign
Magician
Lover

Emotional wounding and archetypal shadow energies

Emotional wounding and archetypal shadow energies

The characteristics of the archetypes described above are the “mature” aspects of the archetype in its fullness. Emotional wounding leads us to channel an archetype in a dysfunctional way. For each archetype, there are two bipolar extremes of an active “too much” and passive “too little”, characteristics that exist in an individual when access to the fullness of the archetype and it's associated capacities are blocked for one reason or another. 

 

As an example, a mature and healthy Warrior knows who she is, meets challenging situations and conversations with calmness and clarity, sets and holds boundaries, and takes action when she needs to. A person with inflated or too much warrior energy can be sadistic and abusive, hyper-boundaried seeking conflict for the sake of conflict.  A person with deflated or too little warrior struggles with her sense of authentic identity, cannot set or hold boundaries, is easily pushed around, avoids or fears confrontation, and has trouble moving forward in life or in getting things done. The shadow aspects of 'too much' and 'too little' for each of the archetypal energies are detailed in the links above for each archetype.

Employing the lens of the archetypes, each can be approached, explored and ultimately balanced as necessary. Each archetype has an essence, a particular quality to it, and it also has these polarities, light and dark aspects which manifest as optimal and detrimental character qualities.

The archetypal lens in personal development

The archetypal lens in personal development

​Personal growth for me involves having the commitment, courage and curiosity to take those often difficult steps that we know are needed and necessary in order to live a more satisfying, peaceful and meaningful life. Taking steps to bring this about involves unpicking patterns and behaviours that may be holding us back and working with shadow material in order to work through emotional issues. Accessing and working with those hidden and vulnerable parts of us, typically rooted in experiences from the past, supports deep emotional healing and the release of those barriers to joyful living

Each archetype contains light and shadow qualities, healthy and unhealthy expressions. It is likely you will resonate strongly with some archetypes, and others may feel underdeveloped or even estranged. By exploring how these areas of personality show up in your life and identifying and exploring the experiences or wounding that have led to occluded access to these energies, we can work towards the goal of you having full and balanced access to each of these four archetypes, so that you are naturally able to call on the most appropriate energy within you at any given time to support you and bring you back into alignment. 

The Jungian concept of archetypes is very useful in working with behaviours or feelings you want to change. We can start this process by looking at how you express each of these archetypal energies and we can explore any imbalances. This serves as a framework within which we can examine what is driving unwanted behaviours and more importantly provide strategies to change the unhelpful or unwanted behaviours into something that really supports you in your life.

Jungian archetypal theory

Archetypes can be defined as the inherited blueprints for our emotional expression which cause us to react in a typical way to basic human experiences, inner or outer. We all have access to these archetypes but the extent to which we express them differs and is determined by our experience, background and upbringing. Carl Jung (1875 -1961) identified the archetypal energies, which lie in the collective unconscious and are available to us all.

Through dreamwork, psychoanalysis and comprehensive study, Jung identified archetypes as the hidden language of the psyche and a profound tool for psychological insight. The term “archetype” means original pattern in ancient Greek and Jung identified 12 universal mythic characters, archetypes, that reside within our collective unconscious and that represent the range of basic human motivations.

Later work condensed these 12 mythic characters to four (Moore & Gillette 1990, Boothroyd 2018) and this four quadrant archetypal model views the psyche as being divided into four distinct archetypal energies - areas of personality that can be viewed as sub-personalities or parts of us that stand alone and function almost autonomously as separate entities within us. Each of them carries a particular energy and can act as a semiautonomous part of our psyche with its own motivations, desires, feelings, thoughts, and way of being in the world.

 

Archetypes, Jung wrote in The Structure And Dynamics Of The Psyche, are the living system of reactions and aptitudes that would determine the individuals life in invisible ways. Each archetype has an essence, a particular quality to it, and it also has polarities, light and dark aspects which manifest as optimal and detrimental character qualities.

When you’re out of alignment with an archetype, you will suffer the shadow aspects of it, the specific limiting beliefs and behaviours. When you’re in balance, you receive the gifts and benefits of it. When we have unencumbered access to these archetypes, we are able to draw on their attributes and qualities and experience that part of us in it’s fullness, harnessing it’s aspects and capacities to fully inhabit our lives.

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