Have you ever had something wonderful happen and found yourself stressed and disoriented? I just did that in starting to write this newsletter welcome, so I decided to share my process of shifting my storyline.
New Story: What has been wonderful? Well, What Stories Are You Living? Discover Your Archetypes – Transform Your Lifeis out and the reviews are stellar. Yet, even more than that, the big story is that our daughter and her family have moved 10 minutes away from us. One of our sons and his family live around the corner already, and our other son and his family just 30 minutes away. On top of that, David was my perfect companion through pandemic lockdown and now we are fully vaccinated. How good is that!
Plotline Reframe: So, what possible negative stories could I have dredged up? Well, for about six weeks I had a houseful of family living with us, David just home from the hospital after spine surgery, and more than usual the number of people I care about in difficulty of one kind or another. I started falling into unrealistic worry stories about family and friends and into insecure ones about myself. My growing disorientation tipped me off that the Lover/Seeker archetype tension was activated in me, raising the question for the thousandth time, “Who am I called to be now ?” My Lover was wanting to be there for what others might need from me, while my Seeker was going for walks to regain a separate sense of self.
Expanding my perspective from current challenges to the larger movie I was in (the New Story) allowed me to recognize that I am in one of those emerging happy ending moments in life that still have their challenges. Even my athlete husband’s surgery is in the service of his returning to track and field masters competitions, which he loves and where he excels. Of course, happy endings are rarely the end in life. Even during their emergence, unnerving patterns may hint at coming new scripts and new parts to play in their inevitable sequels.
Microcosm plotline: As I’ve also been writing about the “culture war” (see below), I began to see a link between my own Seeker/Lover tension and that of my country, one that prides itself on offering “liberty and justice for all.” Liberty, the call to freedom and the open road, constellates the Seeker, while “for all” modifies it to evoke the Lover and the concept of interdependence and loving one another. Much of our current political conflict centers around issues about whether we need to love one another or just take care of #1 or our tribe. Yes, mutuality requires action that we may not actually desire to do. I’m inspired by all those in the pandemic who kept the rest of us alive, risking their own lives in the process. Remembering them reminds me to do likewise when that is mine to do.
Narrative Images: For me, the wagon train going west is a great metaphor for journeying toward a better life together for my country. In my personal life, I can imagine a small frontier settlement when the final family wagon train has arrived and the task of being settlers can mature into a new phase.
Possible Larger Happy Ending: So many people during the pandemic had time to think about what they authentically want. I’m intrigued by newspaper reports of those choosing not to go back to their old normal—leaving toxic environments, work not right for them, or a driven lifestyle that precludes much time with family and friends. Many are choosing work they love, more time with those they care about, and the ability to savor a life worth living. All these choices are liberty in action, and they often also require decisions to choose more love—for ourselves and those around us, and for all that is good about our lives. What each of us chooses and then does, of course, affects the whole. If enough of us make these choices, we might achieve “liberty and justice for all,” including ourselves. As for me, I want that. What about you?
In the Blogosphere
My work on leadership and on archetypes has always been intertwined. I assume that all of us who want to make some difference in the world and who act on that desire are leaders. I recently completed a blog series, called The Power of Leadership Narrative Intelligence (NQ) demonstrating how my new book, What Stories Are You Living?, was influenced by leadership theories and how helpful it can be to leaders at any level. (An article based on this material was just published on the June 2021 Membership Interface page of the International Leadership Association website, but requires a membership to read it.
The first blog, “Discovering Your Motivations and Your Leadership Gifts,” links genuine archetypal motivations with storylines and with the development of capacities. It can help any of us notice what archetypes energize and fulfill us so that we can enjoy gaining their capacities by living their stories
The second, “Leading Authentically in Today’s Complex and Ever-Changing Context,” explores how archetypal awareness can help us lead authentically and adaptively while also meeting the challenges of new situations and people different from ourselves.
I can’t stop thinking about how archetypal analysis can help us to understand what is going on politically in my country today in what is termed the “culture war.” This led me to draft a second blog series, called What Stories Are Americans Living? Escaping the Curse of the Culture War Narrative. This one includes three blogs, inspired by a David Brooks column in The New York Times. His words triggered new thoughts on archetypal pairings in What Stories Are You Living?applied to political parties.
I have been enjoying recent interviews with great people. A high point was engaging deeply over two hours with Rob Kall on “The Bottom-Up Show”. We went into detail about What Stories Are You Living? and his enthusiasm about it—and mine. I then read his great book, The Bottom-up Revolution: Mastering Emerging Connectivity, which I recommend highly. I also had another terrific and enjoyable exchange with Jim Lefter from Jim@uthriveher.com on the Big Universe Podcast, where we thought together about the power of story in “new thought” spiritual movements. I strongly believe that my archetypal theories are a missing piece for followers of Science of Mind, Centers for Spiritual Living, Unity, Agape, and other similar communities. Dave Watson, editor of Movies Matter, interviewed me by email, and then published his stimulating questions and my answers about the role of movies generally and their impact in my life. To access these, go to my blog page.
Also of Interest
John G. Corlett, co-author with me of Mapping the Organizational Psyche (still a free download on my website) has recently published an article co-authored by Laura F. Chisholm in the Journal of Jungian Scholarly Studies (Vol. 16, No.1 (2021), pp. 6-23, available gratis on-line. Their essay, “C.G. Jung’s Thoughts on the Concepts of Leader and Leadership,” highlights the concept of the “so-called” leader; the connection between the achievement of personality and the leader; the link between leadership and the acquisition of prestige, and the influence of the great symbolical principles on the leader. The article concludes with provisional thoughts about the relevance of Jung’s ideas to the field of leadership studies.
I welcome and encourage your comments on any of the blogs posted on my blogsite, several of which have inspired a rich exchange of ideas. Also, if you have an idea for a blog that you might like to submit, please send me an email with a brief summary and I will let you know whether it is suitable for my blogsite and, if so, what guidelines you should follow in preparing it.
In addition to my blogsite, you can find many of my blogs on those of Psychology Today and the Depth Psychology Alliance, and you are invited to make comments on the former and on the latter if you are a member. The easiest way to learn when a new blog goes up on my blogsite or any of the others on which I post is to follow me on Facebook at Carol S. Pearson, PhD and Twitter @carolspearson. Posts and tweets will inform you of the topic and how to access it. I also invite you to follow me on Instagram at carolspearsonphd. Just click on one of the buttons on the right to connect, and let me know what is going on with you.
As always, please feel free to forward this newsletter to others who might be interested.
Carol S. Pearson
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September/October 2022 Newsletter
The shadow of a culture is more complicated because it is similarly created by what its country says it is and what it dreams of being.