In order to gain an understanding of how archetypes work in our psychological make-up, we have to start by defining what an archetype is. An archetype is what’s used in the most primary sense to illustrate or represent natural principles and laws. An archetype represents a kind of prototype, universal template, or ideal that we use for creating in every aspect of our life. As multidimensional, multifaceted beings, our personality and psychological make-up is comprised of universal archetypes that we share with all of humanity, represented by the zodiac and the ancient gods of Mythology. An archetype as a principle is represented as an “idea” or “being” that has certain types of attributes, qualities and characteristics, that form its basic personality giving it a natural disposition, temperament, perspective and “type” or kind of behaviors that naturally lend themselves to telling a certain type of story as it’s “identity”.
Our basic psychological make-up as our personality is formed by the twelve universal (everyone has them) archetypes of the zodiac as personality traits in varying degrees and aspects that are composed into a “formula” as our primary “state of consciousness”. As we go out into the world and begin participating in co-creating reality, this state of consciousness as our personality acts to predetermine and form our “identity” as the roles we naturally cast ourselves in or take on, and the type of story we tell by how we express our character traits and live our life. In order to change the character traits that make up our personality and identity, we have to work by way of principles as archetypes.
The ultimate form of transformation as self-development, doesn’t come by changing individual or select behaviors, habits, or tendencies, though it can be in the ordinary sense, but rather by working with attributes and qualities that form new characteristics. By evolving characteristics that form our personality and have natural behaviors inherent in them as a “way of being”, we naturally produce new experiences that give us a new and different “sense of ourselves”, that simultaneously produces a new kind of reality as the story we naturally begin telling through our newly acquired perceptions and behaviors. “Being” always produces “doing”, and doing results in physical manifestation.
To work through principles says that the way to change how something or someone functions and performs, and the reality they create through the story they naturally tell as a result, is to work with their character and nature to alter, modify and reformulate its inherent properties and elements. By adjusting and modifying the qualities one expresses through, we change the entire operation. So instead of trying to change one aspect within a whole, natural operation, often without ever identifying what attribute is ultimately causing it, you work instead to adjust the inner nature as their character, and let the changes that ensue from it naturally take place. Then evaluate them to determine if or what other attributes need to be adjusted, until it naturally acts to produce the change you want. All change ultimately comes in a natural and permanent manner by changing the character of the person forming the behaviors that you desire to change. All other methods may solve a specific application or instance, but the behavior and tendency itself will continue to play out in others ways.
What’s referred to in Alchemy as the “chemical marriage”, comes through coupling, combining, and assimilation of its equal and complementary opposite. Transformation takes place by mingling, blending, and combining contradictory opposites to form a new whole. By returning what is fixed and dead to a fluid and growing state. When we assume habitual qualities that make up our character and nature, and fail to grow in the essential sense of our inner self, we become as dead matter, measured only by quantity and proportion. We stagnate and begin living a life of routine and dogma, performing the same rituals day after day in an automatic way, and begin living out of the same mindset telling ourselves the same story day in and day out.
When we stop growing, learning, and becoming something new and different in each moment, we begin the process of withering and dying. All behaviors and habits are merely the expression of established and well-practiced qualities that make up our character. So the way to change a habit, specific behavior, or tendency, isn’t to work directly with it in the practical sense of breaking a pattern to form a new one, but rather by identifying what part of your nature is producing that behavior as a natural expression and working through the law of sympathy and antipathy to modify it. It’s only by changing our inner nature somehow that we change our outer expression as our reality.
Qualities exist as attributes that are polar in nature as complementary opposites that form extremes of each other, with a gradient scale between them as degrees. We seldom ever fall exclusively on one side or the other, but rather somewhere in between, and express in favor of one extreme or the other under different circumstances. Many behavioral tendencies come more as a dynamic and interactive combination of qualities that must be worked with as groups or complementary clusters rather than as singular in nature, although often what is spurned as a quality actually results from a “core or parent” quality, which, when transformed, changes all offspring produced by it systematically.
For example, jealousy and envy, whose opposite is admiration and trust, may be the offspring of self-doubt, lack of confidence, and low self-worth, and until this is addressed and transformed, the jealousy won’t go away. At best it’ll be repressed and subdued or corrected (seemingly) in one situation, while still existing as a tendency and natural perception in any other situation that warrants it, because what’s “causing it” hasn’t been changed. Once self-worth has been transformed into a healthy state of confidence, self-love and admiration, the tendency towards jealousy in all areas dissipates and is no longer apart of personal awareness and feelings. In other words, the person no longer feels that way in situations that used to warrant a deep feeling of jealousy and envy.
To breed confidence in place of being timid and feeling unsure of yourself requires working with believing in yourself, trusting yourself, and honoring your uniqueness. Just trying to correct the behavior itself by telling them (or yourself) to not be timid or afraid, or by making them feel bad somehow for being that way, not only doesn’t transform it, but can in fact compound and exaggerate it, making it even worse. Qualities as our inner nature and personality form an interactive model as a cluster of qualities that have been developed through an active and expressive state to produce our experiences. We form beliefs about and around ourselves and others through the active expression of innate qualities being brought out in us through the dynamics, conditions, and life situations we grew up in, that served to establish our initial personality as traits and characteristics we naturally possess and outwardly express as adults.
All of these well-developed qualities have their complementary opposites, which also exist within us in a latent state, and can be used in a strategic manner to transform them. We simply have to realize it, form a desire and intention to perfect ourselves, and use our will creatively to transform our character into new habits. We “become” whatever we form a habit of. By intentionally working to develop ourselves by embodying and acting out counteractive qualities, and practicing “being that way”, we change how we feel, how we “sense ourselves”, and how we feel about ourselves. For example, just by changing our posture from a slumped one to an erect one, back straight, head held up high, making eye contact, all characteristics of “confident behavior”, we actually feel more confident. As we feel more confident, we create an experience of ourselves as “being” confident, and we start acting that way more and more, until it becomes a natural part of who we are in the most ordinary sense.
All qualities have a state-of-mind and physiological characteristics associated with them. By becoming an actor in our own life, so to speak, we can imagine the state-of-mind out of which confidence would be the result, and by employing the behaviors and postures that communicate and demonstrate confidence, and “become” confident as a result. We can actively choose to embody that state and quality of being, and act it out as a means of expressing ourselves in some situation, as the basis for creating an experience of ourselves in that manner. If we feel we don’t know how to be, feel, and act confident, we can find someone that we consider confident and self-assured, study them to see what they’re attitude, frame of mind, physiology (the way they hold themselves, gestures, facial expressions, voice tone and quality, etc.), and how they act, then we can model them by “pretending” to be the same way. Just like when we were kids and we developed ourselves by pretending to be just like our favorite characters. This whole process of self-development is natural to us as children when we’re in the natural state of creating ourselves using our imagination, but we tend to lose it as we become adults. As adults, we’ve established patterns and instead of taking an attitude of “creating new memories”, we begin simply living out of the memories already created in a repetitive fashion, feeling and being the same way over and over, creating the same type of experiences in the present as in the past.
While the subconscious mind, which forms our personality, is habitual in nature, working to create and behave in an automatic fashion based on memory as habits, it’s also passive and receptive in nature, lacking a will of its own, and can be directed by the conscious mind to employ new qualities, behave in new ways according to those qualities, and form new memories that will become new habits as a natural way of being. We don’t need to go through years of therapy in an attempt to try and resolve or understand our story about things and what happened to us, and why we became the way we are. All we have to do is realize as adults we still have the ability to create ourselves in any way we want to by simply detaching from the past and our story about it, deciding what aspects of ourselves we want to grow and transform into something better and greater, set the intention to do so, then begin the work of practicing in a disciplined manner to become it.
We can bring what’s in a fixed and established state back into a fluid and growing state. We can realize who we’ve become up to this point, and who we want to be instead, or in moving forward to continue the process of actively developing ourselves. We see ourselves and our life as a “work in progress” of continuous and never-ending growth. Not as “being” a certain way, but as a continuous state of “becoming”. We can decide what story we want to tell by how we live our life, and what “kind” of person we have to become in order to do that. We can move outside of the mindset that says we’re always determined by other people, by how they act and treat us, or by what situations we found ourselves in or acted unknowingly to create, and begin taking an attitude instead of being responsible for our own development and who we become by way of our own willful decisions and actions. We can disconnect from all the memories and illusions of the past, be present in the moment, and become aware of ourselves in terms of how and who we’re being, and “in that awareness”, actively choose how we’re going to be, regardless of others and what’s happening around us.
We can detach from our emotional connection to others that keep us constantly affected by and responding to them, reside apart from them as our own person, and choose how we’re going to interact accordingly. We’re only affected by people because as children in our “formative years”, only our subconscious was fully developed and dominantly active and we were constantly taking in the suggestions and attitudes of others and using them to shape ourselves in relation with them. This tendency becomes established as a way of self-development, so that even when the self-conscious aspect of the mind develops to the point of being active and dominate as our awareness, which has the ability to judge and decide what to let in or keep out, we still act to develop in an unconscious manner. Once we develop a conscious mind, which separates us from our parents and others, and gives us the ability to think for ourselves, discriminate and reason, and act based on choice and will to give suggestions to our own subconscious mind as a way of self-development instead of other-development, we have the ability to become self-determined.
The problem is, by the time we’ve become adults it’s become a habit as an automatic process of stimulus – response, action – reaction, and we don’t realize that we now have a will and can act independent of others in determining our own psychological makeup. We can finally realize that who others are, how they’re being towards us, and what they think of us has nothing to do with us, unless we let it by engaging through a reactive like-response. As soon as we realize this, break the unconscious emotional connection, and see ourselves as a part from others, where their behavior and attitude no longer produces a reaction in us, we step into our true power to decide in every moment who and how we’re going to be, then acting it out as an experience of ourselves.
All transformation comes as an “inside job”. It comes through transforming the qualities that make up our character that naturally produce all of our perceptions and behaviors as a natural way of being that serve to tell a story of some kind. We don’t transform by addressing specific behaviors, but rather by working with the personality traits and character that act to naturally produce them as a tendency. By changing our “core” or kernel, we change how it expresses outwardly and what it acts to create through behaviors and deeds of some sort. Archetypes are tools for transformation because they provide us with a dynamic system of what qualities and personality traits produce what type of behaviors that naturally perform a stylized operation as a thematic story-line.
All qualities exist in polarity, with a wide range of degrees and variances in between, and all qualities can be modified by employing their opposite and contradictory aspect. All vibration as a pattern is altered by coupling with a similar, yet variable pattern of the same nature, where different degrees of the same quality are being expressed, that allows it to acquire and take on new attributes. We train and condition ourselves to new ways of being by modeling the qualities necessary until they become a natural part of us. Whatever we pretend to be, we become. Pretending and playacting is the key to personal transformation and developing your character in a natural and deliberate way.
Dr. Linda Gadbois
Integrative Mind-Body Consultant and Spiritual Mentor