Archetypes: A Model for Decision-Making

What should I do next? What do I want? How do I get it? Am I on the right track? Why am I stuck? These are universal questions faced by everyone almost every day.

Archetypes are effective models for strategic thinking. They can simplify a problem and point you towards the right decision. I’ve been teaching clients to use archetypes as a decision-making strategy for nearly thirty years, and found that large or small, you can make a satisfying decision after consulting your archetypes.

Archetypes are useful guides for making mindful decisions.

Let me explain how the archetype consultation process works.

When consulting your archetypes, as your guide on the side, I would ask you to frame your question as a statement. You want to state what you need to know. It’s about asking for insights, ideas, inspiration, clarity or guidance about what to do next. It’s about clarifying your needs and aiming for a win win if others are involved.

I find the most intriguing part of this process, is that in contrast to most strategies and therapies, you need to distill the issue at hand. You don’t need to go into details when it comes to consulting your archetypes. Less really is more.

Archetypes don’t need to hear your problems. They want to know what you want. And if you don’t know what you want, then you would ask your archetypes like this:

What do I want? This question can be converted to: I need clarity about what’s best for me/us in this situation.

Here are some more examples:

How do I get what I want? As a statement might read as: I need ideas about how to get…

What should I do next? As a statement it could be: I need insights into the best way forward.

Why am I stuck? Converts to: I need to clarify what’s stopping me from moving forward.

Am I on the right track? Statement: I need to identify the best track for me/us.

Once you’ve converted your question into a statement, then you’re ready to choose an appropriate archetype to consult. This is where I remain present with you as you analyse your archetype. That is, you’ll use mental contrasting to deconstruct the archetype by identifying its positive and negative characteristics, both in equal measure and in relationship to your situation.

Next, to synthesise this information, together we would generate your Archetypal Narrative. We’ll read through the list of negative characteristics. This will reveal your obstacles. Then we’ll read through the positive characteristics.

Reading through the positive characteristics will give you actionable insights about how you can respond to your situation so that you can make a decision that’s right for you. Reading both sides gives you the whole picture, rather than half the story.

Side note: Imagine trying to stand on one leg indefinitely and without support. Not so easy. But when you tell both sides of the story, you’re in a better position to circumvent projection and to acknowledge the shadow. You don’t need to keep yourself in the dark, especially if your decision is an important one.

Most insights happen in an instant, but others may take time to emerge. If that’s the case, then you need to be patient. Archetypal power, like any form of power, works well when the interaction is respected. You can’t push your archetypes. Some elements take longer to blend and cook than others.

It’s basic alchemy. A new solution is created when elements in opposition are brought together and unified. Transformation occurs when positive and negative forces coalesce because of a third, catalytic agent. That catalyst is your spirit.

The result? Sometimes an epiphany, but always an actionable insight, or idea, inspiration, foresight or movement in the right direction.

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