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ARCHETYPES
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StoryWell.com article

Guide to Working with Archetypes

The PMAI® instrument is not designed to put you into a predetermined box. Rather, it offers information to help you to begin a dialogue with yourself which in turn can lead to greater insight into the complexity and uniqueness of your journey. The twelve archetypal categories provide a structure that can increase your self-awareness, but your journey is your own and unlike any other. That's why working with your archetypes can be so rewarding.

When working with archetypes to understand yourself or another, remember these points:

  • Each archetype and each individual has special gifts and challenges. There is no better or worse archetype.
  • No one should tell another person what archetypes are active in his or her life. Each person reserves the right to make this determination. PMAI scores are meant as an aid to self-discovery and personal reflection.
Reasons to work with archetypes
  • Increasing self-awareness
  • Finding greater fulfillment and meaning in life
  • Improving personal, family, community, and workplace relationships
  • Expanding abilities, perspectives, and options
  • Helping people to escape habitual archetypal patterns that have become limiting ruts rather than empowering paths
  • Enabling people to be actively engaged in charting the course of their journeys

Although a person may have one or more archetypes that remain stable over time and provide a sense of core meaning and identity, archetypes may change and shift over time as people face new life stages and challenges.


The Journey

Think of this journey as a spiral rather than a straight line. Each person may experiences archetypes in an order that is unique to him or her. Each time the archetype becomes active, a person may experience it at a higher or deeper level.

The emergence of archetypes in a person's life is generally an unconscious process and the PMAI instrument helps make that process conscious. Once you are aware of the archetypes active your life, focused intent can help an archetype awaken and can influence the degree of that archetype's expression in you.

Think of archetypes as seeds within the unconscious. Encouragement in your environment (family, ethnic group, workplace, society) as well as your own conscious decisions serve as the sunlight and water that encourage the archetypes to sprout (or, in the absence of nourishment, to remain dormant). It is good to seek out people who reinforce the archetypes you want to develop.

Expression of Archetypes

When an archetype is active it determines the story that a person tends to live. In experiencing that narrative pattern, he or she gains its gift or virtue and may have to face its temptations. Negative expressions of an archetype can be seen as an unexperienced attempt to express its more positive side. Undeveloped archetypes, especially if they are actively disowned, can be projected onto others who are then seen as problems, as scapegoats, as rescuing saviors, or even as evil. Making such archetypes conscious can assist in taking back one's projections and seeing others more clearly and compassionately.

If a person gains the gifts of an archetype, he or she can retain its gifts even though its narrative pattern may no longer define his or her stance in the world. Archetypes are natural to the human psyche, so they stand in waiting, available for when they may be needed in a life.

Sometimes archetypes can become so habitual in their expressions that people seem like they are in a bit of a trance: whatever happens, they respond from that archetype's perspective, whether or not it is appropriate or useful to do so. In this case, the archetype is no longer empowering the person, but has essentially gone dormant and stayed on as a stereotype that may limit a person's options. Awareness provides freedom to awaken and grow in more fulfilling ways.


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