Archetypes and Wellbeing
Some people think the concept of “archetype” is so last century. Something outdated and with no room in today’s modern living. I disagree a great deal. I believe learning about archetypes and drawing from their wisdom can help us grow individually and as members of the human collective.
What is an Archetype?
An archetype is a universal, symbolic pattern or idea that represents shared human experiences, emotions, and attitudes.Tweet
For me, archetypes have been a great source of inspiration and ideas to work with. They represent universal patterns of human behaviour, emotions and experiences. It may sound far stretched here, but I believe archetypes hold the power to teach us the basics of what it means to be human.
Thanks to their universality, we tend to find archetypical representations across cultures. When we stop for a moment to reflect on it, we begin to understand we seem to be connected to each other beyond borders and belief systems. It is as if our individual minds are interwoven in a gigantic piece of tapestry which Jung called the collective unconscious.
How Can Archetypes Contribute to Wellbeing?
Due to their complex rich functions, there are several ways in which working with archetypes can contribute to greater wellbeing. Outcomes can not only benefit us directly as individuals (e.g. increased self-awareness) but also as members of a group or community (e.g. higher levels of empathy).
5 examples of how archetypes can benefit wellbeing:
When you learn about a specific archetype or group of archetypes, you are invited to go deeper within yourself and reflect upon your own motivations and behavioural patterns. You literally can embark on a self-discovery journey in which not even the sky is the limit. Such an experience increases your sense of self-awareness, confidence and identity.
Emotions are not always easy to dissect and pinpoint. It can be difficult to put them down in words or even talk about them to someone. Since archetypes and archetypical stories are often a representation of shared human experiences, they somehow can make us feel more comfortable and open to reflecting and expressing our own emotions. These are two essential processes of emotional wellbeing.
Another great potential benefit of working with archetypes is that they can offer us insights and creative solutions that help us solve problems and conflicts in our own life. Archetypes hold the gift of showing us different possibilities. They also hold the power of empowering and inspiring us to take action and move forward with a greater sense of direction, accomplishment, and satisfaction.
Archetypes connect us with our common humanity. They provide us with guidance and reassurance when it comes to certain thoughts, emotions, and motivations. They work like a mirror that reflects the extent to which we are connected with each other and how much connection exerts influence on the way we go about life. Such an experience nurtures greater levels of empathy and the unique sense that we belong to a much bigger community.
Purpose & Meaning
The depth that archetypes offer us can be used to build our own sense of purpose and find meaning in life. When we explore and connect with different archetypes, especially through story-telling, we embark on a journey that leads us to self-discovery. Eventually, that journey can include finding our purpose and new ways of giving meaning to life.
5 Creative Archetypes
Now that we know how archetypes can boost our wellbeing through self-expression and our sense of common humanity, let’s see how the following 5 archetypes can help us grow our creative juices.
This is likely the most intimidating archetype to work with because as human beings we tend to run away from our own shadow. The shadow is usually used to refer to those aspects of our personality that we perceive as negative or undesirable. We find it somewhat easier to repress, ignore or deny these aspects of ourselves. These can include but are not limited to, our fears, desires, and impulses. In Arts and Literature, this archetype is often used to build the anti-hero character of a narrative.
This archetype connects us with the rawness of human goodness and virtue. It reminds us of looking at reality through the eyes of a child. It invites us to face the world and our daily life as if we were seeing it for the first time. In Ars and Literature, this archetype can be used to build characters that add playfulness and wonder to a story.
The archetype of the explorer also connects us with curiosity and wonder but it is an archetype with a greater emphasis on action and on exploring the vastness of the world on purpose. The explorer knows he or she wants to find new ideas and places, whereas the innocent does not. When we work with this archetype, we tap into themes such as being adventurous and courageous. In Arts and Literature, this archetype can be used to build characters who are moved by a greater sense of discovery and a strong need for the wilderness.
This is also a very interesting archetype. It represents the idea of rebelling against conformity and established rules. The outlaw connects us with the need to challenge the status quo and question what has been taken for granted. In Arts and Literature, this archetype is often used to build characters who are willing to break conventional rules to prove new points or show that there are different ways of living.
This is a well-known archetype for those who are familiar with Tarot cards. The fool connects us with pure spontaneity and unpredictability. It also has the gift to bring humour to a narrative. Sometimes the fool is quite wise and exerts his influence through comedy and even mockery. In Arts and Literature, this archetype is usually used as a way to add lightness, humour, and improvisation.
The world of archetypes is vast and an endless source of inspiration, wisdom, and creativity. Archetypes have the power to remind us that we are all human and each one of us belongs to a much wider and bigger community which is humankind.
When we embrace and work with archetypes, we open and stretch what we perceive our horizon to be. We are invited to go deeper within but also reach outward, to what unites us as human beings. They offer us different models and frameworks to relate to ourselves and others.
We can also use archetypes to tap into our creative nature and explore different ways of creative expression. The more we use archetypes for individual and social transformation, the more creative we become – and wiser as well.
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