What is an Archetype?

During his lifetime, Carl Jung, often called the father of modern psychology, put forward his theory about archetypes. He described them as universal patterns of behaviour that reside in the realm of the human collective unconscious.

Jung proposed that people go through life drawing from a repertoire of instinctive, archetypal roles. The word archetype has now become a familiar term since experts such as Joseph Campbell, Carol Pearson, Clarissa Pinkola Estes and Caroline Myss have written about them. Each archetype is like a collection of thoughts that have combined to form an idea, and an ideal, and this is what people draw on to shape the roles that they play.

What is an archetype?
Archetypes are universal stories – roles that people play.

Since ancient times, every human being has added their ideas and thoughts to what it means to be a mother for example, or a warrior, a servant, a healer, a hero, and the many other roles that people play. If each person has put their thoughts and ideas about those roles in to this collective pool, then this suggests that each archetype is subject to transformation and the evolutionary process. 

Two hundred years ago, if the word hero was used, it was usually within the context of war or the capacity to lead and conquer foreign lands. These days, the word hero has been used to describe Olympic gold medal winners or cancer survivors. Today’s idea of what it means to be a mother or father is undergoing a process of transformation. Mothers and fathers are known as parents. Gender is less important than it was in the nineteenth century. This is evident with the increase in working mothers, stay at home fathers, and single fathers and mothers. Contemporary society is now demanding that mothers and fathers learn to play each other’s roles in order to fill that position whenever the need arises. Archetypes continue to grow, since they are affected by the ever-changing social, environmental, economic and political climates.

As archetypal patterns evolve, this also suggests that archetypes have the potential to hold a vast amount of collective wisdom that has been gathered throughout the ages. Having been in development over eons of time, they are now well and truly established, and yet, are constantly evolving forms. Therefore, it would make sense to say that archetypal information not likely to go out date. It seems to move with the times. Archetypes can provide contemporary information supported by ancient wisdom.

Imagine that an archetype is a universal computer program. To put that image within the context of human life suggests that it is a universally programmed way of behaving. You may or may not be aware of that programming. As you become aware of these universal programs, you begin to understand how they influence your day to day living. Think of archetypes as neutral forces. They remain this way until you activate them with your conscious or unconscious choices. The choices that you make, and what motivates you, will determine how well you understand and utilise these patterns and their potential benefits.

Archetypes are universal stories and stories can be read. Every story has a challenge and archetypes are no different. You could say that archetypes represent your life lessons, since each one has its own strengths and weaknesses. When both your strengths and weaknesses are in equal proportion, the balance of energies will neutralise their impact. This is why some archetypes are a force in your life and others are not.

If each person is influenced by archetypes, then how many archetypes have such an impact on your learning and personal development? Various contemporary authors and experts in the field, such as Caroline Myss (2001, p. 142)) have noted that each person reveals at least twelve major archetypal patterns of behaviour. Within this collection of twelve archetypes, Myss (2001, p. 106) suggests that everyone has four basic patterns. They are the child, victim, prostitute, and saboteur. The other eight archetypes that complete the twelve are for you to determine individually.

How do you determine which archetypes represent your life challenges? What makes it so challenging is that everyone in some way, can identify with almost every archetype. Yet, even if that is the case, your relationships to these archetypes vary. Some are major and others are minor.

To identify your archetypes, you need to look for the major patterns and influences, your strongest personality characteristics and physical behaviour patterns, and where and how often you express their strengths or weaknesses, because that is what best describes the archetypes that form your major life lessons. Your archetypes are the life patterns that repeat themselves in a fulfilling and positive manner, or in a way that draws you back to a continual state of unease or pain.  

Pain is designed to bring you to your knees. Pain is a crisis, and a crisis is painful. Both will coax, push, bully and beg you to ask: Am I doing something wrong, that I find myself in this situation time after time? Is there something I need to learn from these experiences, and if so, what is it? The answers are in your Archetypes. They indicate your life lessons. 

Challenges are easier to manage when you know your archetypes. When you’re aware of your personal strengths and weaknesses, you generate more options and have more choices. Once you know your archetypes, rather than overreact to situations or events, you can respond with wisdom instead.

Myss, C 2001, Sacred Contracts: Awakening Your Divine Potential, Bantam Books, New York

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The Wrong Way to Think Could Be the Right Way to Succeed

Much has been written about how a positive approach to goals enables their achievement. It’s true, but a wholly positive approach can also whitewash genuine problems, allowing them to remain unacknowledged, only to resurface later. I’ve found that when I take a wholly positive approach, I end up feeling overwhelmed and under more pressure, both of which frighten me into freeze mode and stifle my creativity. So if I want to avoid this situation, and generate some insights and inspiration to increase motivation, I find it’s useful to turn my to-do list into a not-to-do list. 

I learnt about turning perspectives upside down, inside out and back to front from Paul Arden, former executive creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi. He wrote a book titled: Whatever you think, think the opposite (2006). He said (2006, p. 1) “It’s the wrong way to think, but the right way to win”. His strategy is often useful when I need to coach and motivate overwhelmed students to stay on track with their studies. 

Not-to-do ListTo-do List
You don’t need to miss this opportunity.Seize the opportunity 
You don’t need to forget your goals.Remember your goals
You don’t need to lose your focusStay focused
You don’t need to be disorganised.Be organised 
You don’t need to do this on your own.Ask for help 
You don’t need to avoid your problems.Face your problems 
You don’t need to miss classesAttend all classes
You don’t need to be late to class.Be on time 
You don’t need overdue fees.Pay your fees on time
You don’t need outstanding assessments. Submit all assessments 
You don’t need late assessment submissionsSubmit all assessments on time 
You don’t need to make excusesStay motivated
You don’t need to be distracted Stop procrastinating 
You don’t need to let this stop youBe determined 
You don’t need obstacles in your way Overcome obstacles 
You don’t need to give upDevelop resilience
A list to inspire self-reflection, or a list of demands?

A to-do list can sound like nagging, whereas a not-to-do list encourages self-reflection and self-questioning. More motivating and less demanding.

In an ongoing effort to get off my own back, I apply the same strategy to my own life. 

When I need to achieve a goal, rather than trying to self-motivate by telling myself to aim for the goal, I’ll say instead: You don’t need to be aimless. By taking a what-not-to-do approach, I feel inspired to think about what I can do so that I’m not aimless. I still end up thinking about the importance of keeping my goal in mind so that I’m not aimless, but by telling myself that I don’t need to be aimless, I tend to self-reflect and want to know more. I ask myself: What does aimlessness look like in this situation? What makes me aimless? What distracts me? What’s stopping me? How will being aimless sabotage me? 

When I want to be successful, instead of telling myself to be successful, I’ll say: You don’t need to fail. Of course, I find myself doing what I need to do to be successful, but by telling myself that I don’t need to fail, I dig deeper and ask: How do I usually fail? What does failure look like? What causes me to fail? How do I sabotage myself? 

When I want to be organised, instead of telling myself to get organised, I’ll say: You don’t need to be disorganised. And yes, I start thinking about what I need to do to get myself organised, but by telling myself that I don’t need to be disorganised, I find myself wanting to know more: How am I disorganised? What does disorganisation look like? What makes me disorganised? How will a lack of disorganisation sabotage my goals?

Sometimes, after a perception is turned upside down, inside out or back to front, things start looking better. And that can only be a positive. 

Arden, P 2006, Whatever you think, think the opposite, Penguin Group, New York

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Beware of Vampires

When your inner peace has been disturbed then it’s time to do your energy work. If you’re feeling drained or you’re stuck treading water and you don’t know what to do next, then that’s another sign it’s time for more energy work. Energy work is housework for the soul. It needs to be done regularly. Energy work clears your conscience, revamps your energy and can help you to be more present.

Energy received from a vampire mission must be sent back to the sender. Energy sent on a vampire mission must be recalled by the sender. 

Watch out for vampire behaviour. Are others draining you? Or are you draining others? If so, then it’s time to do your energy work.

Energy work involves retrieving your energy and returning unwanted energy to the sender on a regular basis so that you train your energy. You’ll be training your energy to stay in your body and in present time. In addition, and unfortunately because most people don’t do their energy work, you will need to train the sender’s energy to stay where it belongs. With the sender.

The Return to Sender (RTS) Process and the Retrieval Process work hand in hand. Here’s how to do it:

Exercise for Retrieving Your Energy

  1. Sit quietly.
  2. Breathe gently.
  3. Where have you sent your power? Have you sent it on a negative or destructive mission to a person, place, situation or thing?
  4. Breathe in and take back your energy. Command your power to come back into your body and into present time.
  5. Repeat when required.

Exercise for Returning Energy to Sender

  1. Sit quietly.
  2. Breathe gently.
  3. Who has sent negative, destructive or unwanted energy to you?
  4. Breathe out and gently return the energy to the sender. Always return unwanted energy without malice. Malice is a destructive mission whereas gentleness is a constructive mission on your part.
  5. Repeat when required.

Energy that has been sent to you on a negative or destructive mission does not belong to you. It needs to be sent back to the sender. Carrying other people’s energy is a burden that is not yours to carry. It drains your power and your ability to be present.

Sending your energy on negative or destructive missions is draining. And stressful. Your power leaks out of your body and affects your ability to be present when you send it on negative missions. An overload of stress can make you sick.

So. Watch out for vampire behaviour. Are others draining you? Or are you draining others? Vampire behaviour depletes your personal power and affects your ability to function effectively. Energy received from a vampire mission must be sent back to the sender. Energy sent on a vampire mission needs to be recalled by the sender.

Next time you don’t know what to do next, do your energy work first, and then you will know what to do. Ideas will start to flow. When you feel ill at ease, do your energy work. It will give you a sense of relief. Before you say or do anything important or drastic, pause quietly and do your energy work.

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How to Harness Your Personal Power

Whenever I feel drained, weighed down, overwhelmed, ill at ease or my inner peace has been disturbed, then I know it’s time to harness my power.

Here’s how to do it:

Firstly, I visualise my power as a neutral source of energy. It remains in neutral until I send it on a destructive mission or a constructive mission. These energetic missions can take the form of negative or positive thoughts, words, emotions and behaviour.

Secondly, I need to retrieve my energy if I’ve sent it on a destructive mission. Destructive missions may be energy I’ve sent to a person, place, situation or event in the form of destructive thoughts, words, emotions and behaviour. To retrieve my energy, I breathe in as I visualise my energy coming back to me, refuelling my body, mind and emotions. I find that I need to repeat the Retrieval Process until I’ve trained my energy to stay where it needs to be. In my body, my mind and emotions.

Then thirdly, and this I believe is the part that many have been missing when they fail to regain their power. I call it the the Return to Sender Process or RTS Process. I need to RTS all the energy that has been sent to me on a destructive mission. Energy sent to me on a destructive mission by others may take the form of destructive thoughts, words, emotions and behaviour. To send back unwanted energy, I breathe out as I visualise the energy leaving my body, mind and emotions and returning to the sender. As a constructive use of energy, I need to send the energy back with thoughts of kindness. Constructive energy can help to neutralise destructive energy. I repeat the Return to Sender Process until I’ve trained the sender’s energy to remain with the sender.

Regain Your Power

Retrieving your energy is not enough. You have to RTS it.

Lastly, I aim to send my energy on constructive missions. I plug myself into the power of constructive thoughts, words, emotions and behaviours. Constructive missions may be energy I’ve sent to a person, place, situation or event in the form of positive thoughts, words, emotions and behaviour.

Fixations with people, places and events in the past and the present and obsessions about the future can be draining. It takes a lot of personal energy to send my life force on a destructive mission. It takes even more energy to support and maintain that position. Nobody wins when energy is sent on a destructive mission. Chaos, stress and ill health are too often the result, whereas a constructive mission can enhance the wellbeing of the sender and the receiver. A constructive mission refuels the energy of the sender and the receiver. The life force increases, spirits return to flourish and so both parties win. A constructive mission has the potential to heal, empower, or transform an attitude, situation, personal issue or any area of life that you wish to target. It creates a win-win for everyone.

My personal power can be harnessed with greater ease when I retrieve my energy, and I send back energy that is not mine to keep, and when I decide to be more constructive and less destructive towards myself and others.

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Your Personal Epiphany and How to Have One

Everyone needs a personal epiphany. Every now and then. How long has it been since your last one? Too long? Ah-ha moments can make you feel better. They’re good for your mental and emotional health. If you want to experience a personal epiphany, then you’ll need to start asking the big questions. You know. The ones that start with W. The questions that make you squirm when you’ve been trying so hard to stay comfortable.

The problem is, the W questions become a problem if you keep ignoring them. Remember when your mother used to ask you to take out the garbage, and you would put off doing it? Remember how she had to nag you to do it? The same thing happens when you avoid asking the big questions. Here’s the thing. The questions will never go away. No matter how hard you try. And this creates another problem. All that energy you have to use to hold the questions at bay? That’s why you feel drained and unproductive. That’s why you’ve lost your drive. And your nerve. It’s why others are overtaking you. Why they are getting ahead. And you’re not. Unless…You start asking the following:

Who am I?

What is my purpose?

Why am I here?

You can take control by asking the big questions before it’s too late. Of course asking will bring change into your life. And if you’re not much of an expert at managing change, then naturally, you’re going to avoid asking the big questions. But look. I’ve made something for you. If you’re not sure what happens when you start asking questions about life, and you prefer to know what to expect, then check out the infographic I’ve put together for you:

Ask life’s big questions. Have a personal epiphany.

It’s a universal quest to ask life’s big questions.

You see. That’s not so hard at all. It’s a universal quest to ask life’s big questions. Countless others have been there before. You’ll be in good company. I can guarantee it.

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Your Personal Empowerment Theory and Why You May Need to Realise It

Everyone has a theory about life. Although many are not conscious of it. They’re not aware of their personal empowerment theory and how it actually sabotages them. Or how it creates success. Many clients come to me anxious, overwhelmed and miserable. Life feels beyond their control. But it isn’t. Feeling out of control is an indication that we need to take more control.

Design your life to reflect your truth by Gail Goodwin

Make the most of your life. Live it like it’s the only one you will ever have.

You can take control again by identifying your own personal empowerment theory, a theory about who you are, your purpose and potential. Your personal empowerment theory influences the circumstances in your life and how well you manage it. It influences your thoughts, words, feelings and actions. Realising your theory can help you to answer the big questions.

  • Who am I?
  • Why was I born?
  • What is the meaning of life?
  • Is there more meaning to life than this?
  • What am I meant to do with my life?
  • What is my purpose?
  • Do I have a purpose?
  • What is my potential?
  • Do I have potential?
  • How do I realise my potential?

When you realise your theory, you put yourself back in the driver’s seat. In charge. As the author of your life. Once you know your personal empowerment theory about your life, you will not only be back and in control, but you will be able to realise your purpose and who you are. So you can clarify your highest potential.

Once you’ve defined your theory then you can gain access to an unlimited source of wisdom that you can call on for the rest of your life.

So that you can:

  • realise who you are
  • realise why you were born
  • realise the meaning of life
  • realise what you can do with your life
  • realise your purpose
  • realise your potential
  • design your life to reflect your truth

I like to think that I don’t tell others what to do and most of the time that’s true. But not if I feel it can be of some help. So here it is. This is what you need to do:

You need to realise your personal empowerment theory and how it affects your success and failure. You need to find out who you are. You need to identify your purpose so that you can make the most of your life. Live it like it’s the only one you have.

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A Personal or Spiritual Crisis?

There is a difference between an identity crisis and a spiritual crisis. An identity crisis involves your personality. It manifests as confusion about the roles that you play in life, concern about approval from others and your image,  issues of self esteem and self sabotage.

A spiritual crisis breaks into your soul.

Everything in your physical, emotional and mental worlds lose their appeal for you.

Image by Benno Poeder

When you begin to reject the physical, emotional and mental gifts from spirit in favour of a pure and contemplative connection with the Divine then you know you are on the brink of the dark night of the soul. Here’s what you can expect.

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How do I develop self-awareness so that I follow my inner guidance?

Archetypes are tools that can be used to develop self-awareness. Archetypes are universal patterns of behaviour that manifest as roles that we play.  According to Caroline Myss (2001) we all share four roles. They are the Child, Victim, Prostitute and Saboteur. These roles can influence our mindset. Our mindset can influence the roles we play. We slip in and out of a them without thinking, without self-awareness.

archetypes for self awareness

Archetypes can indicate your challenges and solutions. Image by Benno Poeder

Therefore, every role we play, the thoughts we have, the emotions we experience, the words that we speak and the actions that we take may be productive or unproductive. How well we play our roles may depend on the awareness of our own mindset and the impact that a productive or unproductive mindset can have on the world around us. Here are the four mindsets we need to be aware of if we want to develop self-awareness.


Challenge: Responsible vs Irresponsible

A productive Child mindset knows when to be serious and when to lighten up. When to grow up but not lose our sense of wonder, humour and curiosity. To do this we can:

  • Enjoy ourselves rather than being serious all the time
  • Be resilient rather than rigid
  • Be strong enough to learn from experience rather than avoiding the issue
  • Be dependable rather than unreliable


Challenge: Protect vs Endanger

A productive Victim mindset knows when to draw the line, be pro-active and when to be vulnerable. To do this we can:

  • Set and maintain our personal boundaries rather than being used.
  • Stand-up for ourselves rather than let ourselves down.
  • Move on rather than dwell too long in self-pity
  • Safeguard rather than jeopardise ourselves or others


Challenge: Ethical vs Unethical

A productive Prostitute mindset knows when to compromise and when to stand firm. To do this we can:

  • Be loyal to our values rather than compromising our integrity
  • Negotiate a win/win deal for all rather than selling out ourselves or others
  • Be true to ourselves and others rather than losing trust
  • Maintain our personal honour rather than lose our dignity


Challenge: Constructive vs Destructive

A productive Saboteur mindset knows when to listen to the critics (or the inner critic) and when to listen to inner guidance. To do this we can:

  • Be objective rather than biased
  • Supervise our thoughts, words and actions rather than overlook them
  • Be guided by our conscience rather than shutting it down
  • Be productive rather than unproductive or counterproductive.

How do we know if the voice in our head is the inner critic or the inner guide? We need to ask: Is what I am about to say or do responsible or irresponsible? Will it protect or endanger myself or others? Is it ethical or unethical? Is it constructive or destructive? We can develop and improve our self-awareness by asking these four simple questions.



Myss, C 2001, Sacred contracts: Awakening your divine potential, Harmony Books, New York.

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It’s Your Call to Respond to Your Calling

There are preliminary steps you need to take before you can follow your calling. This is why many people don’t respond to it. Not because they are afraid of their calling but because they don’t know where to start. They’re overwhelmed by it. Or they don’t have a yearning for it because they don’t have enough energy for it.

Your calling and how to respond to it It’s up to you to prepare yourself to respond to your call

But here’s the thing. No one is getting any younger. No one. Not one person on earth. The truth is, time is short. Your time to respond to your calling is running out. Most of the time you waste time thinking and doing things that are irrelevant or even detrimental to your mental and emotional health.

You avoid taking responsibility or you take on too much. You play the victim or you prey on others. You sell your soul to the highest bidder. You sell out others. They sell you out. You sabotage yourself. You sabotage others. They sabotage you. You damage your soul and deplete your spirit. This is bad for your body. Stress and tension create anxiety and that can lead to depression. It’s a difficult cycle to break.

How can you respond to your calling when you hardly have the energy to drag yourself to work? Or worse, you don’t have the energy to get up in the morning.

You have to prepare yourself so that your mind and emotions are ready to embrace your calling. You have to be ready to prepare yourself. You have to be in a state that is ready to respond.

So how do you prepare for your calling?

One of the first things to do is to clear the air in your relationships. Now is the time to act. Clearing the air in your relationships doesn’t mean that these people will be out of your life. Not unless you want it that way. It’s your call. Clear the air so that you can be free to be who you need to be. Free to respond to your calling.

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You need coaxing to dive into your potential. Okay, here’s some not-so-tough love.

If you’re afraid to dive into your potential right now, developing a taste for it might help you to feel more at ease. All you need to do is wake up prepared to be amazed every day. Sounds easy but if you’re not prepared to be amazed every day, then you’ll need to ask yourself why and what you can do about it.

Is your mind set for amazement or not? Yes or no? It’s your choice. You decide. You are in control of your mindset. You are in charge. Isn’t that amazing?

Genius at work. Be prepared to be amazed.

One way to develop a sense of readiness is to look for the potential in others. Another way is to look for the potential in your current circumstances. Yet another is to look for the potential in upcoming events. One more way is to look for the potential in objects that you own or could own.

Actually, if you look for the potential in everything and everyone around you, then you can hardly miss it. And when you’ve developed the habit of looking for the potential in everything and everyone around you, then you might find yourself diving into your own potential without a second thought. Because you’ve developed a habit. It will feel like second nature to you. This is where you want to be. In a place where recognising the potential in all people, places, events and things comes easy to you.

To answer the “why” of not being prepared? The big scary thing about your own potential is that you can’t see it until you dive in. First. It’s easier to see the potential in other people, places, events and things, but your own potential is not usually visible until after you dive in. Then you can reach it. You will have to take a leap of faith into yourself. So start by looking for the potential in others, then move on to looking for the potential in events, then places and then objects. Be on the lookout. Prepare to be amazed.

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