Socrates had a wonderful admonition for us all: “Know Thyself.” He buttressed this with a fuller statement: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” While not everyone might equally agree with the second of these postulates, most would agree that there is much value in a life well lived and that we learn more about ourselves as we experience life’s treasures, including hard times as well as easier, happier times.
Carl Jung is largely credited for his recognition that getting to know our Selves involves much more than simply looking into a mirror. We are each of us inherently multiple in the sense that we develop different sub-selves as we gradually take on roles and responsibilities in the process of forming a sense of our IDENTITY, both consciously as public personas and privately and unconsciously as well.
Becoming a social self in a community of others entails adopting ‘typical’ role identities, and as an anthropologist I would say that Jungian (and other) ARCHETYPES relate to these role personas both consciously and unconsciously. So as we become an individual we develop certain facets of our identity corresponding to specific sorts of situations. We draw upon universal or collective “archetype” images as we develop these outer and subjective personas. A parent may take on ELDER LEADER and/or NOURISHER points of views and attitudes, for instance, a spouse expresses LOVER traits, a soldier enacts a WARRIOR role, a doctor the HEALER, etcetera. All human societies include a stock in trade of several primary role modalities which are psychologically available for identity construction and expression. These also may become aberrated or may take on “Shadow” traits in our unconscious psychological makeup.
What Jung prescribed for all of us is to seek to better INTEGRATE our archetypal persona influences in the process of becoming fully mature, self-actuating, INDIVIDUATED persons. As Jung himself pioneered for us as a role model (see his RED BOOK and articles about active imagination), he has encouraged us to get to know our archetypal animating energies as vital aspects of our greater Self or Soul. I call this your Ensemble Cast of Mythic Archetypal Characters”. In my forthcoming book (hopefully 2016) YOUR LIFE PATH, I focus part of a self-discovery toolkit around understanding 12 Universal Archetypes that were used by the late Dr. Charles Bebeau and his wife Nin at the Avalon Archetype Institute, based on Sumerian mythology and Jungian principles.
With this blog this year I am presenting one archetype per month and aligning that with a “Life Metaphor” that connects with that archetypal energy. Getting to Know YOURSELF as an integrated Whole comprised of various persona dimensions in key situations in your life can definitely help you to achieve your own BETTER ENDINGS.
You can aim to fulfill all aspects of your Self, not just one or two at the expense of others (thereby leading to internal conflicts or frustrated “parts of Self”). What Life Dream would help you to do that? This will be our topic for August as we celebrate and explore the NOURISHER Archetype and the Life Metaphor Life is a Mountain with Vistas.
I invite you to stay tuned and join the Adventure.
I always welcome your Comments and Stories.