By Fatima Ariadne
“Deep inside, we are two persons. One person, we keep in light. And another one, in shadow” (Quote from “Batman” movie)
Jungian Archetypes and Our Personality Shadings
I don’t talk about the “alter ego” as in split personality disorder. It’s rather the other sides of our personality we are both aware or unaware of. And let’s admit it, we are not either black/white being. Deep inside we are a person of colorful characters. Carl Jung described it in his archetypes, or the collective unconscious, to describe the spiritual imagery in his dream analysis. He divided the archetypes into the persona, anima, animus, shadow, great mother, wise old man, witch, priest, etc. All are parts of our personality.
The shadow, for example, is an archetype for our “dark sides”, which represents our chaotic, wild, and repressed sides. A girl taught to be chaste and pious her whole life might find her shadow figure as a party girl – for example. Anima/animus is the ideal opposite sex character within the man and woman. In Jungian work, a man seeing anima in his dream, is said to meet his feminine side. As for anima spiritual development, Jung classified it further into Eve, Helen, Maria, and Sophia (supreme wisdom). And there are other archetypes, each represents parts of human psyche.
We human beings are not a black or white creature, and certainly there are a lot of shades of grey inside our psyche and personality. In this blog you’d easily see me as a thoughtful melancholic girl. But in real life I can also be crazy, weirdo, charming, chatty, laughter bomb, hot-headed, anti-misogynist, an observer who sits behind the scene, shy, aloof, and even “huh? so what? who cares?”.
You are no different.
The question is, which shades of personality are you more clinging to?
And how by understanding these shadings, you can improve your character for a greater good?
We’re often taught since childhood to follow a certain people as a role model. Be it your teacher, parents, siblings, or some random celebrity. But if taken to negative, you might negatively compare yourself to another person, or imitating the person make you unconsciously repeat their mistakes as well.
If you are a muslim, whoever you want to follow, the best spiritual role model for us to emulate is Rasulullah (peace be upon him) and his Companions.
“Indeed in the Messenger of Allah you have a good example to follow for those who seeks Allah and the Last Day, and remembers Allah much” (Suraa Al Ahzab : 21)
“I was only sent with the best manner and character” (Hadith Bukhari)
So there goes your best external role model.
Making Yourself As Your Own Role Model
Credit : Wikipedia
Even without realizing it, you are wiser than what you consciously believe now. And you are more spiritual than what you consciously think of, now. Simply, because in the core of your essence, you are a spiritual being experiencing a human life, not vice versa. Your spirituality is a united part within you, not separated.
Earlier century in one of his essay, Ibn Sina had explained the subconscious mind as the source of wisdom every human being can access. Others call it “intuitive wisdom”, “inner voice”, and “higher self”. But accessing role model from your inner self is very much possible, and in fact it can strengthen your wisdom and increase your self confidence too.
Now here your wise alter ego — or just call it “wise side” — plays the role.
But let me tell you one example. My own “wise alter ego” (of course, apostrophe emphasized ;-)) is named Sophia, which in Latin means “wisdom”. And coincidence or not, an aunt of Rasulullah (peace be upon him) was named Safiyya bint Abdul Mutaalib, and she is a brave female warrior.
It’s a role model I created for myself when I was in a spiritual downfall, got anger problem, desperate for Divine Mercy, and let life takes me to whatever destination it wants. She’s a role model for strength, compassion, spirituality, wisdom, and serenity. It’s a quite opposite for myself in real life who are hot-headed, un-feminine, loud, anti-authority, and over-confidence.
In simpler words, I want to BE like that.
I want to adapt compassion, spirituality, and wisdom in my life. But that time, if I’m on the mindset of “Ariadne tries to change”…….if I keep on becoming Ariadne, I have to live with the OLD LABELS people and I had attached on Ariadne persona.
If you don’t get me yet ;), here is example :
Have you noticed too whenever someone stepping in a new life, for example changing religion, sometimes they would also change their name to mark their new life…..and to dismiss the old labels, habits, etc attached in their former name?
E.g. A guy named Jason Smith after he converted to Islam, may change his name to Muhammad Smith to declare “look, I’m a muslim now. So, no more horrid lifestyle, drinking, picking up girls, and bye bye night pub. I’m a new person!”
More or less, that’s why I create Sophia to ease the transformation process. But hey, you know what? You don’t always have to give name to your “wise side”. If contemplating the good traits you want to adapt is already sufficient, then go for it.
So in my spare time I would visualize that Sophia is the angelic part of me. Sophia is me. Not a distinctive personality who are away and separated. So whenever I had this riotous moment, for example, I would ask myself :
“Hold on. What will Sophia do?”.
What will my Wiser Side think and do? How can I adapt her actions and thoughts in my situation?
Other Ways to Connect with Your Wise Side
This is maybe kind of funny, so you basically write yourself a letter, then reply the letter yourself! Let’s admit it. The irony is, we know how to advice people. But we’re frequently oblivious how if it’s ourselves facing the same problem, and instead we’re asking people “what should I do?” – only to expect the exact answer you would have possibly thought.
Hence now, pretend how if you give the advice to other people! In other words…do a brainstorm with your WISE self.
How : Pour with all your heart and soul your problems, random thoughts, and fear, on a paper. Pour it all and leave no stone unturned! Then after these toxic feelings and garbage are emptied out from your chest, after your mind is cleared — you toss the “problem” paper far away and start with a brand new paper. In this second paper, you write out all the solutions you can think of.
The best time : when you’re having an emotional block or problem, and too shy to tell people.
Example here……(Yep that’s my original handwriting folks! :D). Of course in my real-life letters I write waaaaaaay much longer than this!
My letter to “Sophia” :
How “Sophia” replies :
2) Make Her A Friend In Stillness
Do you remember “Lord of the Rings” when Gollum talked with his dark side in a mirror reflection as if they were different persons? “No, we must protect the master” – “but we must take the precious….” – “Gollum! Gollum!”.
Okay BUT you don’t have to do crazy alter ego talk like Gollum. Actually you can do this anytime, without pen and paper. All you need is a moment of stillness.
This step is easy if you’re get used to quiet your mind and get in touch with your intuition or inner voice. But even if you’re not, it’s achievable. All you need is to quiet your mind, take a deep breath thrice, and asked yourself :
“What will ____ (my wise one) think, be, and do?”
But the stillness, and quiet your mind here is the key.
What I mostly did was to imagine Sophia sat beside me and she giving me advice. But if you feel like it’s too weird or whatever, you can do a self talk like what I mentioned above.
Actually nothing is crazy with self talk, as long as you DON’T verbalize it out loud in public! You do it all the time, consciously or not. Children naturally do this almost-similar talk with their dolls, toy soldiers, robots, and doing role play. But as we grow up we often shut down our imagination or intuition in the name of maturity or following the crowd.
Most common example is when you stare your own face at the mirror, your mind might start the incessant loop of inner self-talk :
“Oh my God, look at my eyes, big dark circle surrounding them. Oh crap, I got a brand new pimple where do they come from! And my hair, oooooh my hair!!”
But now you change that inner self-talk to a more positive outlook.
“Ohhh look at that. The big dark circle may look unpleasant, but it can be changed. Look at that little face. I may not be an ice princess, but how many people out there had their faces disfigured, or one of their five senses impaired? Thank you Allah for giving me all of this. Make me realize that I’m truly blessed!”
Keeping It Balanced
So, did I tell you to lock yourself into your room, and only talked to yourself? No! And actually, doing self-talk ALONE like you have no human connection is unhealthy for your own inner being. Go read a book, explore a new experience, travel to a place you’ve never seen, and interact with people. External experiences are nothing but enriching yourself. But wisdom is about how you boil all those experiences and perceptions into your soul cauldron.
I always believe that in every inch of your life, you can always extract a wisdom from it. From anywhere and anyone. Keep opening yourself up. But don’t ignore your inner voice. That’s what your wise alter ego is for. And after all, she never goes anywhere