This is the second of two blogs that address the coronavirus pandemic.
I’m going out very little during the coronavirus pandemic, while also taking time to stay connected—at a distance—with family, friends, and colleagues. It is so important in these times that people are not isolated. Simultaneously, I am working to use this quiet time for reflection rather than giving in to worry or annoyance. I’m sheltering in place, while grateful for all the people in the medical fields, those getting food and medicine to people, and those packing up and delivering goods to the increasing numbers who are ordering food and medicine online. Yet, whether in lockdown at home or doing busy and stressful work, people can feel happier and more energized if they see a connection between their actions, what they love, and what can help others—hence this blog.
Putting together strategies from archetypal and positive psychology, I realize that taking time for reflection when I can also helps me to stay focused and positive when I’m working flat out. One strategy that allows me to remain authentic and positive is to keep current with what I love to do and why. To this end, I need to differentiate such efforts from what I think I should do or I’m used to doing. I can also stay open to new opportunities when I reflect on my daydreams and begin to get a sense of what is calling to me. Even when I’m feeling stressed and driven, I can stop and recognize that I love what I’m doing and I do it because I care about others and the fate of the world. Often, then, the love I notice that I’m experiencing shifts my attention to a more positive focus and I feel better.
So, here’s a list I use that might help you. Each of the 12 items identifies an archetypal character that loves what it does and makes us feel good about how these actions benefit others, the environment, or the larger world. As you go through the list, select one or more archetypal characters who love what you do and the good feelings you get from making a difference. If you want to get fancy and more completely catch up with yourself, you can also identify:
- one that you have come to believe you should be like,
- one that you used to be like, but not so much now, and
- one that you wish were true, which then is likely calling you.
Archetypal Characters Within
Your Possible Idealist: You love life and the world around you and have faith in your values and vision for its betterment. You feel good when your faith, goodness, and optimism have picked someone up, given them hope, or allowed them to feel gratitude for what they have.
Your Possible Realist: You love the way that being realistic frees you from unnecessary disappointment. You feel good when you know that by anticipating and avoiding problems or facing current ones in proven ways, you’ve helped others by preventing breakdowns.
Your Possible Caregiver: You love to be helpful to others, noticing their needs and seeking ways to solve their problems and then doing so. You feel good when you know that your compassion and competence have made a difference to others, especially if you take time to also care for yourself.
Your Possible Warrior: You love a good fight, to win, and to rescue others from danger or difficulty. You feel good when you have proven your ability and competence, especially in competition, and when your strength and courage has helped to protect others.
Your Possible Seeker: You love the call of the open road, new experiences, and inviting new possibilities and potentials. You feel good when you are on an adventure that is broadening your horizons and that helps you be the pioneer who maps new territory for others to follow.
Your Possible Lover: You love being in relationship—in romance, friendship, teamwork, and possibly in feeling one with nature or the world. You feel good when you have felt close to another or others, accepted by them, and have been relaxed, just being yourself.
Your Possible Revolutionary: You love to shake things up and get energized when you see what is wrong that needs to change to make things better. You feel good when you have helped others to understand this need and have begun the process of eliminating what is not working.
You Possible Creator: You love to imagine a new reality and carefully craft it into artful and tangible form. You feel good during such creative endeavors when the ideas flow, and deeply satisfied when your vision is realized in ways that bring people pleasure, insight, or ease.
Your Possible Ruler: You love to take on responsibilities when things are in disarray and to get things organized so that they work more effectively. You feel good when you succeed and the people and parts involved work together, order is restored, and chaos is averted.
Your Possible Jester: You love to lighten things up and make people laugh, have fun, and not take themselves too seriously. You feel happy when you are entertaining people or helping them to throw down their cares and smile, so that they can enjoy the moment.
Your Possible Sage: You love to feel curious, the process of discovery and learning, and the joy of sharing wisdom with others. You feel happy when you have found the answer you seek, when you recognize your growing expertise, and when others benefit from learning from you.
Your Possible Magician: You love to heal people and unify groups by engaging with knowledge that is little known and that develops the ability to shift reality by shifting consciousness. You feel good when you know you have used this knowledge to heal yourself and then others.
Now is the time to apply this knowledge from your selections to your life, by identifying one or more of the above that help you express your love and thus make you feel good. Then remember the following:
- You can activate your love by living the story your current inner characters want to live.
- You can avoid an inner drag on your energy by minimizing how much time you spend living your “shoulds” and the stories that used to energize you (even though others continue to pressure you to live them and your own acculturation and habits do, too).
- You can stay open to what calls next by recognizing the characters you identify with in your daydreams.
- Even in times of great pressure, you can also shift your attention from related anxieties and stress to feeling the love that is motivating your actions and how much you care about helping the people who benefit from your efforts.