In a nutshell, archetypes are the inherent programs that govern the behaviors of a species. Human archetypal programs rely heavily upon attachment and interaction to complete the inner circuitry of the growing child.
For instance, attachment to and attention from a loving parent figure are critical to the establishment of basic security in a growing child. The quality of these interactions will impact neural pathways in the brain that will reflect in the cognitive, emotional, and behavioral development of the child. For instance, a neglected child may precociously exercise conservative survival circuitry, whereas a more well-attended child might branch more comfortably into curious interaction with the outside world.
The legacy of incomplete development of brain circuitry at critical periods in life results in one becoming biologically older while remaining emotionally and cognitively younger than one’s physical age. Human adaptive ingenuity frequently develops compensatory strategies to work around such limitations imposed by incomplete circuits.
Thus, for instance, a neglected individual might seek a special relationship with an alternative parental figure to compensate for needed attention. Another strategy might be to utilize one’s own body to provide soothing, via rocking or thumbsucking behaviors.
Generally, one develops a persona, or outer self presentation, that varies significantly with how one knows oneself inwardly. This gives rise to a sense of being a ‘false self’ or living an ‘imposter syndrome’. Often, the hope in romantic relationships is to receive the longed for attention and validation from one’s partner that can provide a bridge to the completion of unfinished or malformed circuitry.
In the honeymoon stage of most relationships, partners glimpse such an idyllic experience of being loved and valued as they truly are. This reprieve from a more limited sense of self can result in a dependence upon reinforcement of one’s worth by one’s partner, as the actual internal transformation into a different sense of self has not occurred.
This predicament generally ends the honeymoon period of a relationship, as the symbiotic oneness of the couple evolves into contentious separateness, as individual selves with personal needs emerge. This is the very familiar course of most relationships that become polarized and lose the glow of their former promise.
Couples who can be vulnerable enough to reveal their truer sense of selves, versus projecting blame upon their partners for inadequate responsiveness, may be able to actually provide an emotionally corrective experience that could help facilitate the creation of new circuitry.
The key here is transparency. One must be able to be completely transparent to all that one is, to one’s own self. Beyond this is the ability to be equally transparent in owning and sharing one’s true self with one’s partner. This is a monumental feat, to accept the fullness of one’s own shadow and share it with one’s partner. That’s intimacy.
Nonetheless, the lion’s share of that possibility requires deep inner work, with each individual decidedly working toward their own inner self-acceptance. No outer relationship can supplant one’s own inner conviction of non-acceptability.
Ultimately, beyond childhood, the completion of inner circuitry rests in the inner work of every individual. Fortunately, all individuals have a higher self that orchestrates life events to challenge the ego to take this daring restorative journey to the wholeness of completed circuitry.
This journey can take many forms. As a psychotherapist and shamanic practitioner I am a huge proponent of this journey of individuation via dreams, synchronicity, and recapitulation. On the physical side, I highly recommend yoga. Yogic knowledge of bodily and subtle body functioning is unsurpassed.
The regular practice of pranayamic breathing literally changes the automatic central nervous system’s reactions to subconscious programs, such that it can override a fear reaction with deep calm. Equipped with such leverage the individual is afforded greater tolerance and opportunity to carve new circuitry, as they encounter a long-held trigger.
Similarly, meditation, aided by simple neurofeedback or biofeedback equipment, can empower one to develop direct mastery over one’s brainwave state, enhancing the ability to heal disjointed circuitry. These body focused practices greatly enhance mental and relational efforts to change.
Archetypal completion is the necessary mandate to heal and forge our deepest connections. Inner work, relational work, and bodily mastery all offer tools and venues to achieve such completion. Completion then becomes the solid foundation of fulfillment in human form.