The utilisation of archetypal power should be a life skill. Everyone has this power but not everyone is aware of it. Latent inside, like a car idling on the side of the road, your archetypal power waits for something, anything, to happen. When you’re not conscious of your archetypal power, you find yourself wondering why you’re stuck, or how you ended up in such a mess.
If you don’t know how to utilise your archetypal power, then it’s forced to go underground. The power turns in on itself. And attacks you, starting from the inside and working its way out. According to Carl Jung, when an inner situation is not made conscious, it appears outside as fate. That’s why it’s a good idea to get to know your archetypal power.
So what is archetypal power? How do you get it? What can you do with it? How do you manage it?
Archetypal power is power you can access once you recognise an archetype.
Archetypes are a collection of universal patterns of experience: thinking, feeling and behaving that have existed since human life began. To this collection, every human being has added their ideas about what it means to be, for example, a warrior, queen, sage or hero. Part of the power of an archetype is that you don’t need me to describe these archetypes to you, because you automatically get the idea.
The name of any archetype should invoke universal recognition. If doesn’t, then chances are, it’s not an archetype. And that recognition may be conscious or unconscious. Archetypes are timeless, human stories of universal experience. As universally understood patterns, it means that archetypes are experienced regardless of one’s culture. I like to think of archetypal power as a social unifier.
It also means that an archetype is an abstract concept. The brain compresses information and compression leads to abstraction. Abstractions are multimodal. They include information from all senses. Compression makes it possible for your brain to think abstractly (2020 p. 164). And because your brain is wired to the world, a world that includes archetypes, it means that everyone has access to this collective, unlimited source of information. And knowledge is power.
Archetypal power is multi-dimensional.
When you own your archetypal power, you get automatic access to hindsight, insight and foresight.
Utilising your archetypal powers in a conscious and productive way will deepen your creative and intuitive thinking skills, expand your emotional intelligence, sharpen your communication and decision-making skills and enable a resilient mindset. You can use archetypal power to refine your self-awareness and develop mental strength and flexibility.
Archetypal power gives you the ability to extract meaning out of your life’s challenges, to understand yourself and others, and to find your purpose (2001).
Archetypal power is the ability to recognise patterns, themes, and storylines. As a result, you get instant insights into the roles people play, and the plots, narratives and scripts that run their thoughts, emotions and behaviour.
You can sense how easy it is to misuse this power. The execution of this power depends on the position of your moral compass. It can be a power trap. The trap is called projection.
When you see that someone has qualities you love or hate, and you believe those qualities are not a part of your character, you tend to see that person through the projection of your unconscious archetype. Instead of seeing the other person as their true self, they become a projection of your disowned self. What you’re seeing is your unrecognised and unlived hopes, dreams, wishes or fears projected onto another person or group.
Royalty uses its archetypal power by relying on your archetypal projections to raise funds for a good cause.
Fans give away their archetypal power to celebrities by allowing the celebrity to carry their best, but disowned self. Note in the margin. Why would you give away your best self?
Social media influencers are a good example of the power given to someone who carries an archetypal projection for their demographic.
The benefits of utilising archetypal power will outweigh the power traps when you know how to manage it. Responsibly. You need to know how to flip it.
How to manage your archetypal power.
Archetypal power is a neutral force until you activate it. Consciously or unconsciously. Too often, archetypal power is activated without enough conscious thought given to the consequences.
There are hundreds of different archetypal powers. One of the most famous, or maybe I should say, infamous powers, is that of the Saboteur. You know this one.
It’s the one where you sabotage yourself. Or others sabotage you. Or maybe, you sabotage others. On the flip side, when it comes to archetypal power, there is always a flip side. There are two sides to every story, an upside and a downside. For the Saboteur, rather than playing with the power of sabotage, you would aim to support yourself and others. And you would allow others to support you.
To manage the power of sabotage, or in fact the power of any archetype, you need to describe how you use it. And if you really want to learn more about how to manage this power, you can ask trusted friends, family and colleagues to describe how you use it, too. Note, my emphasis on the word, trusted.
You can use archetypes to describe how you activate the power of sabotage. Then, you can use archetypes to describe ways to activate the flip side, that is, how you might activate the power of support to counteract sabotage.
Here’s how you can flip the Saboteur archetype.
From the list of archetypes below, choose one archetype to describe each of the following:
- How you sabotage yourself.
- How others sabotage you.
- How you sabotage others.
Then on the flip side, using those same archetypes, identify the upside of each archetype to answer the following:
- How can you support yourself?
- How can others support you?
- How can you support others?
Here’s an example from a client:
- How you sabotage yourself. The client chose the Prostitute archetype.
- How others sabotage you. For this one, they chose the Victim.
- How you sabotage others. Here, they chose the Child.
Here are their responses, on the flip side:
- How can you support yourself? Negotiate a good deal for myself. (Prostitute)
- How can others support you? Respect my personal boundaries. (Victim)
- How can you support others? Allow others to make their own mistakes. (Child)
Now it’s your turn.
Start flipping some archetypes to activate your archetypal power. In a good way. Responsible use of archetypal power has the potential to be an essential life skill. Why would you continue to give away your best self, when you can own your archetypal power outright? After all, it’s your birthright.
Feldman Barrett, L 2020, 7 and ½ lessons about the brain, HarperCollins Publishers, New York.
Jung, C G 1979, Aion: Researches into the Phenomenology of Self, Princeton University Press, New Jersey.
Myss, C 2001, Sacred Contracts: awakening your divine potential, Random House, New York.