Similar to the way we find out about our own hidden behaviors by repetition compulsions, patterns often give us hints to our inner-worldly programs, to which we are partially blindly exposed.
We can call these patterns conditioned reflexes (you can read about them in detail in my book „Freedom and the Fear of it„), which formed us through education, inheritance and environmental influences.
But we can also understand these patterns with C. G. Jung and therefore look at his concept of archetypes.
What Are Archetypes?
Jung first described the archetypes in his dissertation in 1902. They are personality traits that are present in all of us, but are activated differently in each of us.
Especially through mythology our inner-worldly parts are presented. So we all have the archetype of the hero within us. In some, this type appears in the helper complex, in others as saviour and in still others, he can be completely silent, because the archetype of the victim is more active.
All this has to do with our shadow parts, which often control us. Repetitional compulsions and through those motivating, conscious shadow work help us to learn more about what really makes us and how we basically take decisions.
This article is far too short to go into all this complexity. If you are interested in the topic of the shadow, then get my freedom book, everything is described extensively in it.
Freedom always begins within!
Jung describes how we can express our misunderstood archetypes, especially through fairy tales, sagas and legends.
Let us think about the archetypes of the mother. She is present in all fairy tales. But is she really there?
Let us remember Snow White. The mother died in childbed and is idealized because she is not concrete. Instead, the king’s new wife appears as a devouring, evil mother. The absolute contrary, of the holy angel mother, who is not present.
Let us think of Hansel and Gretel. What does the mother do? She is passive and unreachable, leaving the father without a murmur, abandoning the children in the woods. The siblings have to deal with a devouring, evil woman (like Snow White), in this case a witch in the woods.
Let’s turn the whole thing around. Maybe the witch has been baking for years to finally finish her dream house and then these lousy kids come along and destroy her art. What would you have done?
The Devouring Within Us
What a picture of women and mothers! Mothers are not there and therefore perfect. Independent women are evil and devouring. In this we surely find the image of Lilith. She was the first woman of Adam in the creation myth of the Old Testament.
Short description for all those who do not know this myth.
„And God created Adam and Lilith…“ equal among them of clay/earth. They both had the same rights and were independent and free.
But Adam found this difficult to deal with, which is why he complained to God, because Lilith simply did not behave submissively to him.
God gave Lilith an ultimatum that she would either submit to Adam or be banished from paradise.
But Lilith would not be equal, as she was created, if she had submitted.
Lilith was banished from paradise and the Middle Ages made her the scapegoat for all miscarriages and the female disaster par excellence. She was said to have sex with demons and the devil. If the medieval scholars had had the opportunity to visit the Love Parade in Berlin, they would certainly have been convinced that today we all live in a Lilith Hell.
Eve was created for Adam, from his rib. This act is very symbolic. While Lilith and Adam are still made of the same material, Eve is only a part of Adam.
When she wants to eat the fruit of knowledge and offers it to Adam, he could have said no. Instead, he bites off and blames Eve. Just as he complained to God about Lilith, he again took no responsibility for his wishes and actions.
These archetypes of the devouring woman through Lilith (witch, stepmother), Eve (perfect mother/housewife) and Adam (God’s image/son) are carried by all of us, whether we are male or female. These are personality parts that are activated to different degrees. We all carry the wicked (Lilith), the good (Eve) and the self-exaltation (Adam) within us.
When Do Archetypes Become Patterns?
I hope you have been able to get the concept of archetypes so far. There are different levels on which the archetypes are active. We are all culturally at their mercy, as the creation myth wonderfully illustrates.
On the private level, archetypes shape us as well and through them we create our patterns, which, unrecognized, can control us throughout our lives.
We are actually connected to them for life, but we have the possibility to become aware of them and decide to keep them active or deactivate it.
Suppose we are born into a strict, protestant family where discipline and order reigned. That is, beatings for disregarding family rules, strict faith, religious dogmas, shame and guilt in the form of emotional blackmail.
In this family we have three children who deal differently with their throwing (Heidegger). One child activates the archetype of the rebel. His strategy to handle this tight corset of rules is to shake it hard and go on offensive.
The second child uses the archetype of the victim and is constantly ill, thus ensuring that he or she is constantly taking advantage of the compassion of his or her family. For the whining of the child, keeps it from being punished.
The third child uses the archetype of the invisible. It makes itself small and invisible so that it does not attract attention at all. For example, it is always well-behaved and makes absolutely no mess. As if he or she did not even exist. In this way it ensures that it survives and does not have to face punishment too often.
All these strategies are necessary for children to survive.
They have a very deep impact, as such dynamics are usually lived out over years. As adults these archetypes are still active as patterns within us. One reason why siblings often experience their parental home in very different ways is because of their activated archetypes and the patterns that develop on them.
As a 40 year old, the rebel may have difficulty getting a decent job, as he fights against all authority through his active archetype. As a child, this made perfect sense, but 40 years later, this inner struggle is rather hindering.
The archetype of the invisible might have difficulties in relationships as an adult because it is constantly overlooked. The same goes for the victim, who remains small and gives up responsibility because he has made himself comfortable in moaning.
And if we are completely honest, we have all parts of it within us. There is nothing reprehensible in that, they once served us in a very protective way.
Dissolve Pattern In 5 Steps
It is very important that you don’t judge yourself which archetypes you have active in you and that you remain honest about who you really are. Have compassion for the strategies you once chose and recognize what they protected you from.
The following five steps will help you dissolve your patterns and activate new archetypes.
Step 1: Identify which archetype/pattern is active in you.
Step 2: Recognize what triggers them and when they become active.
Step 3: Write down (e.g. table) what damage they have done so far.
Step 4: Think of a supporting archetype and develop new strategies.
Step 5: Act in a new way and make the decision to go a new path.
The archetype of the rebel, for example, could activate the archetype of the entrepreneur in himself and from now on, act independently.
The victim could use the archetype of the wise person to take on more responsibility in his or her life.
The archetype of the invisible could activate his inner hero and make the decision to trust oneself more.
Take a playful approach and try to find out what you’re up to with friends and your partners! It is worth it and opens completely new possibilities in your life!
And at some point, when all the active archetypes are understood and obstructive patterns are dissolved, you will feel how you land with both feet firmly on the ground of your presence.
Old archetypes often provoke the past into situations they no longer correspond to.
If you have arrived in the NOW, you are experiencing yourself, perhaps consciously for the first time in your life. You are there, in the here and now. All the threads and entanglements that narrowed your vision so much have been pulled. And you look at the world and see your life clearly, beyond good and evil, just as it is.
You are free!
Feel free to tell me in the comments about when your personal journey began and how you felt the magic moments of your life!
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