Human Complexities: Identity & Purpose

Love is a Choice

Human Complexities: Yin-Yang
Listen ….
Don’t do it. (Feeling Afraid)
But I want to.
You’ll regret it.
I’ll do it anyway.
You shouldn’t. You know I’m right.
Maybe you’re right. But…
Dialogue repeats…
This chatter is done by just you alone. Yet, it feels like there are two of you. This internal dialogue running in your head can apply to any action you desire to do. Actions that result in severe consequence or reap high rewards such as cheat on a diet, take the risk to quit your current job to pursue your dreams, go skydiving, or give in to your addictions. It begins as a soft whisper that can turn into a raging, looping tape where you find yourself screaming “Stop!”
To manage this chatter in my own life, I cultivate a daily practice of using Archetypal Symbolism. Among the many theories of the human psyche, Archetypes are the keys to learning the internal struggles of your two sides because of their dualistic nature. Carl Jung, one of the founding fathers of psychoanalysis coined this word that rejects the idea that people were born with a blank slate[i]. This signifies that dualistic nature has been embedded before you were born. This article focuses on three renowned authors and speakers who understand the struggle of managing your Archetypal forces. I share a sampling of their profound wisdom which I hope will help you in your soul journey as it continues to do for me.
  • Caroline Myss, Sacred Contract
  • Michael Meade, Fate & Destiny
  • David Brooks, The Road to Character

What are Archetypes?

“Baby, I was born this way” – Lady Gaga

Carl Jung believed that every person is born with behavioral and emotional patterns which he coined, “Archetypes”. Archetypes are universal and contain both light and shadow.Therefore, they are neutral. Just saying the name, it evokes immediate understanding of the meaning, feelings, and motives. Here’s some examples: Child, Victim, Saboteur and the Prostitute.

She points out accurately what the verse does not say, “love feels patient, love feels kind, love does not feel jealous”. The operative words are verbs: is, bears, hopes, endures. “Love is a choice”, she says confidently. It is our choice to bear, hope, endure, act with integrity, and give love. The nun, advises us to do an experiment and replace the word “Love” with a person’s name who is important in our lives. “(Name) is patient, (Name) is kind…” This lesson plan shifts my whole perspective about “love”. I keep this lesson in my heart during my dating phase. In my twenties, I can sense when a person is offering romantic love versus true commitment.

  • The Child archetype is both hopeful & naïve, trusting & entitled, adventurous & lazy.
  • The Victim archetype is both fearful & intuitive, angry & resolved, broken & victorious.
  • The Saboteur is the disrupter that stops you at every turn from fulfilling your dream as well as making you reexamine your choices for survival like jumping off an actual cliff. Do you really want to do this?
  • The Prostitute archetype is the negotiator who will negotiate your power away for something. This is the same energy which fuels you not to negotiate your integrity away and have faith.
Don’t let their names fool you. If you choose only to see the prostitute archetype as a negative shadow energy pattern, then you are stereotyping. Archetypes are not stereotypes. Stereotyping only capitalizes a partial truth while discarding the profound narrative each offers. Archetypes require you to see them as neutral forces. They fall under the universal law of duality – two sides of the same coin and each have both light (positive) patterns and shadow (negative) patterns of behavior. You may wonder why would God create such a complex system inside of you? What is the purpose of having a shadow side? These questions often lead to more questions such as, “Who am I, why was I born, what is my purpose?” Caroline addresses these questions in her book Sacred Contract.

Caroline Myss – Sacred Contract

Plato & Scroll
Caroline Myss cites Plato’s “Myth of Er” (428 B.C.), as the basis of your life’s purpose. This tale is your soul’s Pre-birth Agreement to learn certain lessons in life. This is her meaning of “Sacred Contract”. Part of your agreement is inhibiting certain behavioral tendencies (archetypes) in order for you to learn to manage the power of your choices and what life has fated for you before you are born. Gaining a higher perspective on your life is the purpose for this story. It is up to you to take it literally or simply as a teaching device. Myss encourages you to learn your personal archetypal patterns, understand their dualistic paradoxical nature, pause for reflection and then make a choice. Your personal archetypes will help you live out your Sacred Contract and the benefits to knowing yours are these:
  • Clarity as an observer. Seeing through an archetypal lens helps you to step back and look at the bigger picture. Life truly is influenced by your perceptions and perspective. Your perception is formed by your thoughts and feelings of the situation and the position you are viewing what you are seeing. As you engage in this world, you must deal with other people’s perception and perspective which maybe harmonious or conflicting. Seeing the big picture will give you clarity.
  • Know thyself. Exploration of your archetypes allows you to see where you place your power in relationship to yourself, others, and fated circumstances. Do you react? Do you blame? Are you mindful? Do you take responsibilities for your own actions? Can you negotiate your power without giving it away for the sake of a job, materialism, love, health, addiction and so on? When you gain the ability to recognize when you are losing your power, you will then have the choice to claim your power back. The by product is the enhancement of your self-esteem and value.
  • Empathy towards others. When you understand how archetypes work in you, you will learn to recognize them in others and develop empathy towards them. Human beings are full of depth and therefore you begin to see them in a new perspective. You learn not to take things personally as you understand that there are issues they are working through.
  • You always have a choice. No matter how difficult things can be, you always have a choice and your choices have consequences. Consistently choosing to confront and work through your shadows empowers the soul to develop characteristics filled with grace, humility, and empathy. Consistently choosing to succumb to your shadows/weakness splinters the soul, you become fragmented and locked in suffering.
  • You now have guidance: In Myss’s words “Your archetypes are the guides on this path of realization—-twelve lifelong companions that show you the pitfalls and the greatness along the road to deep inner joy. In understanding them, you gain a perspective that stokes your creative fire, enlivens your relationships, increases your vitality, and deepens your spirituality.”
The soul is a vessel of reflection and archetypes offer the link to recognize the behaviors that empowers and constrains you. Learning life lessons is the reason why you were born and what you are called to do. The struggles of managing your polarities during fated circumstances such as an illness, death of a loved one, betrayal, addictions, or anything that stops you in your tracks can cause great suffering. Michael Meade offers great insight into how suffering is the doorway to your destiny.

Michael Meade – The Genius Myth, Fate and Destiny

“At the end of life, you’ll be asked one question: did you become yourself or do you wait for death to tell you who you are?” – Michael Meade

Drum picture
Michael Meade presents his wisdom as a drum beating storyteller, singing traditional folk tales and myths that people were not only born with certain tendencies but a calling. Meade’s work came to my attention while I was contemplating the difference between Soul and Spirit. As a mother of special needs child, I can’t help but wonder. Meade’s books and lectures include themes: essence of the Soul and Spirit, fate and destiny, every soul is born with a genius and your purpose is to find it, live it, and mentor others. Meade’s description of the dance between the soul and spirit deeply resonates with me. (My dream about my son’s soul and spirit). Here’s just a sampling of what I have learned from him:
  • Spirit is connected to elements of fire and air and is inclined to rise. It is the fire that burns within us to be something and do something, have a peak experience and reach our highest potential. Spirit sparks ideas to move forward, expand go beyond. Spirit has connection and communication with God and leads us to possibilities and hope for the future. Soul is connected to elements of earth and water and is inclined to descend and get into the depth of things. Like the water seeping down to the depths of the earth to nurture her, the soul loves to go deep in the understanding of yourself, others, and what life is about. It leads to a deep desire to touch one’s own life and get in touch with the lives of others.
  • Fate and Destiny are two agreements our soul agrees to prior to being born. Fate is being born at a certain time, in a certain place, to be with a particular family, or being born with a certain body with inner complexities that you must manage. Fate is anything that limits your life. Destiny is the opposite of fate which is your ability to transcend limitations in order to reach your highest potential. There’s a thread that pulls both your fate and destiny to a revelation of the deep self that is within us.
  • Fate and Destiny is intertwined. “Twist of fate” calls you to face your fate to find your destiny. The wound in one person can become the door through which everyone can find the center of life again. (Two Agreement of the Soul) Examine those times you have felt pain and suffering. There’s a genius in your method of survival. That genius is your soul’s purpose.
  • If you fail to confront your fate, you will miss the opportunity to find your genius and all would not have been worthwhile. In the end of your life you will be asked, “Did you become yourself? Or did you become an imitation of someone else?” Fate and Destiny the two agreements are what you struggle with throughout your life.
  • He inspires you to find your genius and encourages you to share them with the world. Those who have seen and lived through the struggles are called to mentor others. Mentoring others along their journey is crucial to helping the young generation cultivate their genius. Human beings long for connection, and our sense of usefulness derives from the feeling of connectedness. (The Genius Myth)
Everyone who lives goes through suffering. As Paul Tillich once wrote, “suffering introduces you to yourself and reminds you that you are not the person you thought you were.”[iii] It is the way we come to realize we can do more. When great influencers of our times are asked what fueled them to success, the answer is less likely because they experienced happiness. Instead, their desire to pull themselves through suffering is the common thread. Inspirational people offer hope because they know suffering and their life serves as lessons of how to manage yours. This takes me to the author David Brooks.

David Brooks – The Road to Character

The Road to Character, Brooks portrays several historical figures who models lessons of how they have managed themselves through suffering by making conscious daily choices cultivating a strength of character. One portrayal who teaches this lesson of suffering is Samuel Johnson a renowned English essayist of his time and the first to write the English dictionary in 1798.
Brooks describes Johnson as having once said, “life up to his thirties as radically wretched”. Born in 1709 in England he barely survived his infancy being very weak. Just when he began to thrive, he was later infected by his wet nurse with tuberculosis. He became blind in one eye and deaf in one ear. He had scars left from small pox. He attended Oxford but quit after 1 year. He tried to be a teacher but failed a year later. He suffered depression and exhibited quick verbal outburst which modern doctors now classify as Tourette’s. Sameul Johnson developed a deep understanding of himself, his weaknesses and strengths through his years of suffering. He also developed tremendous empathy towards others and a deep desire to lift himself up to survive. He wrote essays which Brooks describes as “master of shifting perspective”. Brooks writes of Johnson:
  • believed the human mind is capable of comprehending but also doing so with a sense of humility, compassion, and charity.
  • tried to pin down the chaos of existence in prose and create a sense of internal order and discipline.
  • Johnson investigated the world to become his desired self;
  • He’s trying to fire moral ardor and get ambitious bourgeois people to focus on ultimate truths.
  • Johnson tried to lift people up to emulate heroes. [iv]
Samuel Johnson
Samuel Johnson is a great example of a soul born to experience fated circumstances which he confronted, examined, and learned to manage. This willingness to examine ultimate truths about life helped him to turn his suffering into destiny of depth of character and accomplishments. Intellectual inquiry can be a moral enterprise to ground you and solidify you inside. (Brooks)
The Road to Character offers so many thought provoking ideas and it starts in the beginning of his book referencing American Rabbi, Joseph Soloveitchik. In a 1965 essay, Rabbi Soloveitchik points out that there are two creation stories that can be distinguished between Adam 1 and Adam 2.[v] The two Adams is reminiscent of Carl Jung’s paradoxical nature of man.
Adam 1 vers Adam 2
Brooks draws your attention to reflect your dual nature: Adam 1 which embodies Resume Virtues or Adam 2 which embodies eulogy virtues.
  • The perpetual confrontation of Adam 1 and Adam 2 is part of the internal conflict that plays within you. In many societies money, success, and fame (Adam 1) are the driving forces that eludes to happiness. Yet there have been countless famous influential people who seem to have it all, only to take their own lives. Which Adam do you choose to cultivate?
  • Wisdom isn’t a body of information. It’s the moral quality of knowing what you don’t know and figuring out a way to handle your ignorance, uncertainty, and limitations.
  • Character is built from the struggle against your own weakness.

Common Thread

Caroline Myss, Michael Meade, and David Brooks share a thread of a soul’s journey that calls you to manage your dualistic tendencies to discover who you are, your genius and give service to others. What seems to be just a nuisance of nonstop chatter in your head is actually a complex Archetypal system that resides in the core of your soul. Learning to manage your tendencies especially during pain to whatever fate hands you will open the door to your destiny.
Destiny, I learned recently is not about the world shifting itself to open doorways of possibilities for you. Caroline Myss corrected this notion of mine in an interview where she told the audience, “that’s not how heaven works. Don’t reduce God to stuff!” The purpose in life is not about fame and money. It’s rather you are shifting how you view the world and receiving the Ultimate Grace of truth that you are worthy, and you have exactly what you need all along. “Swimming in gifts but drowning in your wounds” as Meade will tell you. When you invest in caring for your soul, the internal dialogue that drives you mad, now becomes your ally to remind you of this Truth.
This Ultimate Grace of Truth is so profound that I see people who have undergone this work can’t help but to pass on this knowledge to others. Compassion fuels them to be of service to those suffering, so they too may benefit the Grace of knowing the power of their own Soul. There are links here to free resources throughout this article. My hope by introducing authors like these is that you will pick up the ball to learn more. The choice clearly lies in you.
Thank you for the Read!
[i] Carl Jung: Archetypes and Analytical Psychology
[ii] Mosaic Voices
[iii] The Moral Bucket List
[iv] Samuel Johnson and Montaigne in The Road to Character by David Brooks
[v] YouTube, David Brooks, “The Road to Character”
Remy Nirschl
—— About Remy Nirschl:
Remy is a writer, a mother to two wonderful souls, and a soul companion to her husband of nearly 25 years. Propelled into the autism journey in 2004 with the diagnosis of her son, this lead Remy to journey within as she experienced great losses and challenges. Trained in Caroline Myss “Sacred Contract”, this modality has given her the tools for clarity and empowerment. Remy is called into service as an Archetypal Consultant mentoring individuals in their soul journey.
Want to learn more about your other Archetypal Patterns?  Read more….

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