3 Ways To Break Free Of Perfectionism

Worth reading – from Off the Web!

 “You’re imperfect and you’re wired for struggle but you are worthy of love and belonging.” ~Brene Brown

There’s nothing perfect about me, and I’m okay with that… now. This wasn’t the case for most of my life, though. In fact, I’ve been a perfectionist for almost thirty years. I’m not counting the first five years of my life when I was free to be as messy and magical as I wanted.

In third grade I asked my mom to buy me a stack of lined notebooks and colored pens. I spent hours neatly labeling each notebook by class, date, and assignment deadlines. If I made one mistake, like a jagged cursive letter or a misspelling, I’d rip out the page and begin again on a fresh sheet.

This was tiring but it was also a compulsion. Everything had to be neat and ordered or else—or else I’d be out of control, scared, and overwhelmed.

Before my parents divorced, they rarely fought, but my father’s frequent absences and his coolness toward my sister and me sparked a firestorm in me.

Expressing anger wasn’t a thing in our family, especially for women. That simply wasn’t Christian enough or loving enough or good enough.

So I denied my anger and my sadness and, most of all, my fear that my family was breaking apart and I couldn’t do anything to stop it.

Inside I burned like coals after a long night’s fire. I never let it get too hot. I played the good child, the loving daughter and sister, but my life was out of control. Thus began my long dance with perfectionism.

I tried to be a perfect girlfriend, perfect student, and perfect employee, all the while denying the expression of my full self, imperfections and all.

At parties, I perfected the art of banter and hosted like no one else. All was accounted for, each detail a way for me to control life.

I never realized that perfectionism was an attempt to avoid all rejection,                                       all criticism, and all failure.  It was a matter of life or death.

Perfectionism saved me from drowning, but it didn’t help me to swim. I was treading water, staying safe, and desperately trying to control my reality, which is never truly possible. What I realized later was at the heart of perfectionism is the desire for love and acceptance.

Life is a practice and when we practice we make mistakes. The desire for love and acceptance are universal desires. There is no shame in mistakes, just an opportunity to learn and to grow.

No matter the root causes of your perfectionism or your desire for it, know that it is a desire for love and acceptance and there is another path to get there. Maybe your family only showed you love and attention when you did everything right.

Maybe you feel the need to challenge yourself to be bigger and do better in your work and your relationships. This is not a bad thing. But there’s a difference between excellence and perfection.

The One Thing You Need to Know to Overcome Perfectionism –  Surrender

… to the moment, to change, to messiness or imperfection. Surrender is about accepting where we are at in any moment, knowing that we are a work in progress.

Excellence, unlike perfectionism, is about lovingly pushing ourselves to act, think, relate, and create from the highest part of ourselves.

Perfectionism is about trying to control the outcome in order to receive love and acceptance.  It’s all about fear.

Surrender gently tug us toward our own center of perfect humanness. Surrender also invites self-forgiveness, an act all perfectionists need to practice daily.

3 Tips to Manage Perfectionism

1. Laugh.

About anything. Do it often. Having a sense of humor about ourselves and our actions, especially embarrassing or disappointing experiences, doesn’t have to be a shield or form of protection. Humor can heal or at least create enough dopamine and endorphins to get us through the tough moments.

2. Forgive, forgive, forgive. Most of all, yourself.

Forgiveness is actually a selfish act. This is not a bad thing. Forgiveness releases us from fear-based thoughts and emotions. It is the gateway to surrendering our perception of control over our lives and over the actions of others.

3. Surround yourself by free spirits.

If you can’t find anyone like that in your circle of friends, then read about them or watch movies about dreamers and risk-takers—people who’ve failed or made huge mistakes only to overcome them and create an even better life than they could have imagined.

 • ~ •

After thirty years of perfecting perfectionism, I’ve finally learned to let go of controlling every detail of my life. It’s scary sometimes, and there are days when I want to organize and reorganize my desk instead of facing what’s really bothering me.

But those difficult, uncomfortable, and challenging moments pass much quicker when I simply exhale and surrender to whatever is in my heart and in my mind. A softening occurs, and my body finally relaxes instead of being constantly braced for struggle.

I may still compare myself to that social media dynamo who effortlessly attracts a huge following on Facebook or avoid looking at myself as I pass a store window for fear of being disappointed by my reflection, but now I just smile and keep going, knowing that this too shall pass.

Edited for readability
by  Erin Dougherty    Join Erin Dougherty’s mailing list at www.birdsongreadings.com and get a free copy of “Finding Your Personal Mythology.” Or join her Facebook group“The Mythic Life,” all about the everyday hero’s journey.

5 Ways to Stop Being a People Pleaser 

Worth reading! – from Off The WebThere’s nothing wrong with playing nice and getting along. But people pleasers  rely on others’ approval to feel good about themselves. Saying “no” makes them feel guilty or worry that others’ will think they’re selfish, unreasonable, or inconsiderate. And so, in order to feel worthy and accepted, they said yes. And yes. And yes.
But constantly striving for others’ approval while ignoring your needs and well-being takes a toll. Though people pleasers may convince themselves that
making others’ happy makes them happy, the self-administered pressure to manage others’ emotionscan be exhausting, anxiety-inducing, and even lead to depression.

Here are five ways to disrupt your people-pleasing. Is that okay with you guys? Because if it’s not, I can change them. Just let me know. Really. 

1. Recognize the difference between people-pleasing versus simply being kind and generous.

Are you helping because it makes you feel good? Or because you feel less bad?
If helping out reinforces your values and makes you feel good, go for it.
For example, say you’re asked to head a committee at your kid’s school. If saying yes would underscore your value of contributing to the school community and make you feel happy and satisfied, even if it’s a bit stressful, go for it.

But if saying yes only allows you to avoid guilt, and makes you feel overburdened and resentful, you may be doing it for the wrong reasons. If you say yes simply to feel less bad, less anxious, less guilty, less sorry, it’s probably driven by people-pleasing.

This doesn’t mean you should stop being helpful and thoughtful and caring— it just means you should recognize whether you’re doing something because you actually want to, or because you’ll “feel bad” if you don’t. Recognizing the difference doesn’t make you selfish; it makes you honest.

2. Let your values be the driver of decisions

– not just whether you were asked or not. If the filter that decides whether or not to help out is, “Did someone ask me to do it?”consider changing out that filter. Instead, ask “Is this in line with my values and interests?”

Indeed, a 2013 study by happiness researcher Sonja Lyubormirsky recommended choosing activities related to one’s values and interests in order to maximize happiness. This can absolutely include serving important people in your life, organizations, and causes. Just make sure it doesn’t consist only of activities determined by others.

3. Practice being assertive

Healthy assertiveness can feel like brass-knuckled aggression to the people pleasers among us because the passive end of the spectrum is so cozy and familiar. But there is a long way between passive and truly aggressive. The aggressive among us just go for what they want, regardless of whether or not bystanders are harmed or what bridges are burned.
An assertive person, by contrast, commits to being polite and respectful. If you’re a people pleaser, you never have to leave behind being nice. You simply have to let go of trying to force others’ to be happy by doing whatever is asked of you.

So try increasing your assertiveness bit-by-bit. It will feel wrong to stand up for your needs and rights at first, but try it out.

Warm up by expressing an opinion when someone asks where you want to eat or what movie you want to see. Move on to politely disagreeing with Uncle Albert’s conspiracy theories, but listening respectfully and asking questions about his point of view. Then try saying “no” to a ridiculous request without bending over backwards to explain why. Keep calm and carry on, and eventually it will feel like second nature to meet others’ in the middle.

In sum, passiveness doesn’t respect you; aggression doesn’t respect others. Assertiveness lies in between, walking away from a discussion with respect for others— and yourself—intact.

3. Set Boundaries

Setting boundaries doesn’t make you a bad person. You can’t please all people all the time. Unless you’re a box of Thin Mints. Then maybe.

These days, everything is extreme, from politics to weather to ironing. Spend even a couple of minutes on the internet and you’ll find an extreme split between views of the world: from being empathetic and caring to all humanity, or screw everyone and tell them what they can go do to themselves.
People pleasers  fall into the former category, but worry if they say “no” or otherwise stop trying to make everyone happy, they’ll automatically be dumped in a second. In other words, the self-image of people pleasers  hinges on every request. If they say yes, they breathe a sigh of relief—they’re still nice, good people. If they say no, they feel guilty, as if they hurt someone or did something bad. But it takes a lot more than saying “no” to watching your neighbor’s three disrespectful kids, while he watches football, to breaking your moral character.

4. Stop over-apologizing

People pleasers are always sorry. One of my clients joked she should introduce herself with “Hi, my name is Joanna, and I am sorry.”

People pleasers are always sorry.
If you’re a people pleaser, you mean only the best. Over-apologizing feels like it smooths things over and keeps others happy. But it can actually be a wee bit dishonest. Hear me out on this one: apologizing when you did nothing wrong makes it appear as if you were in the wrong. It’s an admission of guilt for a crime you didn’t commit. What’s more, it can make it look like others’ outrageous requests or poorly-thought-out actions were reasonable and justified. Save true contrition for the times you actually screw up (and we all do).

5. To sum it all up, be a people-respecter, not a people pleaser

Never hesitate to do the right thing. When your mother-in-law asks, go shovel her driveway. When your colleague asks, make a donation to get the office cleaning lady a nice Christmas gift. That’s just being respectful. But of all the people you respect, be sure to include yourself.

by: the Savvy Psychologist : 5 Ways to Stop Being a People Pleaser :: Quick and Dirty Tips ™
For even more savvy, get every Savvy Psychologist episode delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for the Savvy Psychologist newsletter. Or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or Stitcher, listen on Spotify, or like on Facebook.

Edited for readability

All About Psychotherapy 

For Therapy to work, you must have a good connection…

and that’s why

pxfreephoto-library-1147815_1920 self-help books don’t work.

Our emotional lives, with all their emotional cues, are on board before any verbal or conceptual ability appears. And the consequences of these experiences are unaffected by intellectual efforts to change them.

That may be because emotions, and our most powerful “memories”, seem to be stored in the right hemisphere of the brain. And yet our thinking (or intellectualizingis a left-hemisphere activity.

Books and conversations about why we act the way we do are certainly helpful, but they don’t seem to be enough to effect real changes in our interactions with the world and ourselves.

So how can we make real changes?

Only by recreating as much as possible the initial conditions in which the processes were created in the first place.

We are born wired to seek connection with others. 

Inspirational and Godly.PinterestYou may have heard that your first loves (parents) create the models for every relationship there after. They become our relationship-blueprints. Our experiences, especially with our caregivers, will become unconscious, intuitive memories that form the basis of our emotional life.

So if you want to change the deep, unconscious patterns that define your reactions to life’s events, you need an environment that can mirror those earliest connections, while, ideally, re-writing them (“neuroplasticity”). The result is a more harmonious existence in your current situations.

A powerful way to do this is through a positive connection with a trained professional (i.e., a psychotherapist). Good therapy aims to create a safe connection with the client so that emotional healing can take place.

And there is more to it, of course. Techniques that require direct experience have proven effective, such as working with the “inner child , mindfulness meditations, Journaling and others. I believe these techniques work because they access the right-brain.

When my client opens up to me as much as they can in a session, I know that we are accessing the right-brain. In doing so, the chances for authentic change become possible.

If you’d like to contact me, have a question, or want to chat, please click the link:

Work and contact info

call, 801-252-6754 (private voicemail, 24/7),

or Email me:  JaneLCSW@gmail.com

And Please Join Me :  Jane A. Weiss, LCSW on Facebook

TxGoldCouchBeachCTB

Re-wiring the Brain

Counseling TidBits

youAre

We CAN re-write our own history… 

One of the fastest ways to rewire the brain (in changing any behavior or emotion) is to stay in the present moment. When we take in a sunset, catch the scent of a spring flower, dance, or tune in to body sensations like our heart rate, breath, the tightness in our muscles, we are activating the right-brain, creating new neuro-pathways.

But what about the thoughts that keep arising? Whatever judgements/opinions you have that take you away from the present moment, I invite you to write on Byron Katie’s worksheet: the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet. That is where all fearful, or “stuck” judgments about others, the world and self belong.

Katie shares her philosophy:

So how do I come to know what is true and what really matters? I identify and question the thoughts that take my awareness away, that take “me” away from my life now and plunge…

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Recognizing and Changing an Abusive Relationship

Worth reading from off the web!

womanInDespairPXfreeThere are three essential elements to an abusive relationship:

1.  Consistent occurrences of power and control over another

2.  Chronic feelings and displays of disrespect

3.  Unhealthy attachment mistaken for love

Abusers are highly deceptive and the victim, as well as others, have no idea that he is being abusive at all.  He purposefully undermines his victim’s individuality and confidence by dominating conversations and suppressing her identity, making her into a mere object for his purposes. He minimizes anything about her, including her opinions, accomplishments, concerns, feelings, or desires.  This causes her to do the same and she learns to minimize herself as well.

Abuse and respect are polar opposites

He has a chronic attitude of disrespect towards his partner.  A respectful relationship is not abusive and an abusive relationship does not contain respect. An abuser views his partner as his property, which allows him to feel powerful and in charge.

It is essential for an abuser to feel this way because he has a fragile ego and delicate sense of self. Without feeling more powerful than his partner he feels weak and vulnerable. Feeling any sense of vulnerability taps into his sense of powerlessness which he is unwilling to experience for any reason. As long as he sees himself in the “one up” position his fragile ego is kept at bay.

Abuse is caused by the belief system of the abuser. The abuser has developed a deeply ingrained sense of superiority and entitlement which does not go away by learning how to manage anger or resolve conflicts. Abusers use anger to control. They engage in conflicts to abuse their partner; show their superiority; and keep intimacy away. Since intimacy requires vulnerability, a feeling abusers avoid at all costs, they have no interest in developing such closeness.

Abuse is not the same as conflict. A conflict involves a difference of opinion. Abuse involves the need for the abuser to stifle the feelings, thoughts, opinions, and values of the abused. An abuser refuses to accept any accountability or responsibility for any of the problems in the relationship. His hallmark attitude is one of superiority and blame. It is not the conflict that is the problem. The abuser caused the conflict in the first place. There can be no resolution.

There is no way to “approach their partner appropriately,” or “pick the right time to address something.”

Abusers can choose any reason to blame his victim for an abusive incident. Abusers abuse because they choose to. It is the abusive mindset that allows them to abuse for a number of reasons:

(1) They are unhappy and they don’t know what to do with their emotions.

(2) They dump their rage and shame on others.

(3) They may have a narcissistic or anti-social personality disorders.

(4) They feel in control, powerful, strong, and superior, which helps them keep all weak, needy, and vulnerable emotions hidden.

(5) Some people abuse because they were taught this as children and operate out of this inner working relationship dynamic.

Whether abuse is physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, financial, spiritual, or some rendition of all of these, there are some basic components of abuse; these are: blame, criticism, neglect, oppression, minimization, rigidity, ridicule, lies, invalidation, lack of accountability, no remorse, no apologies, repeated name calling, double standards, violence, and a consistent lack of empathy.

Realize that abuse, like addiction, is a chronic “disease” that progresses with time, meaning it only gets worse.

Can an abuser be cured?

Of course anything is possible.

Here are the signs that an abuser is changing:

  • he is willing to be accountable to his spouse and others;
  •  he is willing to never have a sense of entitlement in any relationship, for any reason,
  •  he shows self-reflection and insight;
  • he stops blaming others or minimizing, justifying, or rationalizing his own attitudes and behaviors;
  • he listens to and validates others, including his spouse;
  • while he is never going to be perfect, when he messes up, he apologizes, shows insight into what he did wrong, shows remorse, and changes.

 

Abusers in recovery are just like alcoholics in recovery

Alcoholics can never even have one drink ever again in order to maintain sobriety. Abusers can’t be like “normal” people who may be rude or disrespectful at times. Recovery for an abuser needs to be different from what comes natural for the partner. Coddling an abuser and showing him empathy only exacerbates his entitlement. Recovery for an abuser requires that he does not allow himself to ever be rude, disrespectful, entitled, or invalidating ever again. Instead, he is humble and compassionate at all times. No excuses.

About Sharie Stines, Psy.D

Sharie Stines, Psy.D. is a recovery expert specializing in personality disorders, complex trauma and helping people overcome damage caused to their lives by addictions, abuse, trauma and dysfunctional relationships. Sharie is a counselor at LIfeline Counseling & Education Inc., in Whittier, California (www.lifelinecounseling.org).

Edited for readability   Source: Recognizing and Changing an Abusive Relationship | The Recovery Expert

What Do All Addictions Have in Common?

Dopamine – the brain’s primary motivation-neurotransmitter

Any form of drug addiction involves the production of dopamine.

“Brain Design By Cogs And Gears” by MR LIGHTMANThe brain’s dopamine pathways serve as a built-in reward system. By creating sensations something akin to desire, yearning or wanting sensations, its primary purpose is to motivate us to pay attention to the activities deemed important to survival. And when we do the thing it wants us to, we feel – well… “Ahhh!” … Rewarded.

Our Survival Instincts have been on board since the beginning. I like to call this part of the brain the Beast-brain, because it acts without conscious thought. It’s the part of the brain that creates discomfort when there is a “need” – food, air, water, sleep, shelter, and sex.

The development of the prefrontal cortex – the part of the brain responsible for decision-making and critical judgment – tends to confuse us as to just how primal these instincts really are.  After all, we think of these things as a desire for eating, having a nice drink, taking a deep breath, getting a good nights rest, keeping warm, and bonding (sex).

But think about it – why do people sometimes drown? It’s because the need for air is so strong that we take a breath, even when we “know” we cannot. And I would never eat insects, yet if I were starving on a deserted island, my survival instincts would have me eating all kinds of odd things!

And the brain doesn’t just insist on survival. It records and archives how its needs, or “wanting’s,” were satisfied the best, creating very detailed dopamine neuropathways about these events.

Addictions and Cravings

RatsnETOH

What scientists have finally proven is that certain chemicals, once inside the brain, can activate the mind’s dopamine pathway circuitry, virtually hijacking the mind’s perceived priorities for survival. By creating a false instinct, as strong or stronger than the true survival behaviors, experiments with rats have demonstrated that they will choose cocaine over water and food… all the way to their death!

But rats aren’t like people, you say, and of course you are right. But what scientists have found is that addictions have somehow landed in the survival-instinct part of the brain. It is the common thread in all chemical addictions – including cocaine, heroin, meth, nicotine and alcohol.

Remember that this part of the brain is pre-decision making – the Beast Brain. You can only hold your breath for so long before this part of the brain will gasp for a breath. And an addict can only resist the desire for his or her preferred chemical for so long before the beast-brain will override reason and find him or herself searching. Craving.

Drugs of abuse feel good to the user. After taking the drug for a while, the feel-good parts of the brain need to take more of the drug to get the same good feeling. Before long, the brain and body must have the drug to just feel normal. And finally, the user feels sick and awful without the drug. Addiction.

Addiction is “a permanent priorities-disorder and is a disease of the mind.” (John R. Polito,  Freedom from Nicotine – The Journey Home)

 Although this may seem harsh, there is no longer any question to its truth. He goes on to say:

“The good news is that knowledge is power, and we can grow smarter than our addiction. Full recovery is entirely do-able for all. In fact, today there are more ex-users in the U.S. than there are users.

While the first few days may feel like an emotional train wreck, each passing day the challenges grow fewer, generally less intense and shorter in duration. Recovery leads to a calm and quiet mind where addiction chatter and wanting gradually fade into rarity, where the ex-user begins going days, weeks or even months without once wanting their substance.”

If you know someone who is addicted, I hope this article has helped you understand a little better – that it’s not about bad choices, weak character, or that they simply don’t care enough. It’s more about a misunderstanding – the brain believes it needs the substance. And it’s the part of the brain that has no interest it what the person actually wants.

If you are addicted to a substance, get some help. It’s very hard to go at it alone.

Life’s Journey(s)

 THE HEROES WITHIN

Archetypal psychology carries with it an approach to life that values the development of the individual soul. There are times when it is developmentally appropriate for people to be self-centered, materialistic, independent, or a warrior. We help people best by honoring the lessons they can gain from each state. Stories and folklore assist in our developmental tasks – using archetypal characters – by helping us make meaning of our lives.

These stories (Joseph Campbell uses the term “Myths”) reveal for us the attributes commonly seen as the good and beautiful; or the dangerous and destructive. According to Carl Jung archetypes are deep and abiding patterns in the human psyche that remain powerful and present over time, passed down through the generations through the “collective unconscious.” (Or our DNA?)

Using Carl Jung’s terminology, the ego is that part of the psyche that experiences separation. At first the young child feels little or no separation from the environment and especially none from the mother. It is only as the individual completes the task of strong ego development that his or her boundaries can expand and make way for the self. This includes the full conscious self, the personal unconscious and access to archetypal images emerging from the collective unconscious. The result is a renewed sense of wonder and oneness with the cosmos and a reclaiming and redefinition of magical thinking.

So what does the Hero’s Journey have to do with me?

Identity

Identity

Our Soul, I believe, has lessons to learn in this life. Carol Pearson wrote several amazing books which looks at twelve archetypes. These are not the only ones, but they are recognizable to most people. By learning to recognize the qualities of these archetypes throughout our varied life’s journeys, we can see where we may be stuck, and qualities to focus on so we can continue our personal growth. She groups them into three sets of four each.

The Ego relates to the preparation for the journey and includes: Innocent, Orphan, Warrior, and Caregiver.
The Soul (the unconscious) relates to the journey itself and includes: Seeker, Lover, Destroyer, and Creator.
The Self (individuation) relates to the return from the journey and includes: Ruler, Magician, Sage and Fool.

The following describes these archetypes – their respective tasks, virtues that can be attained, and where we go next. As you read them, ask yourself where you are now? Where have you been?

Innocent

Every era has myths of a golden age or of a promised land where life has been or will be perfect. The promise of the Innocent is that life need not be hard. Within each of us, the Innocent is the spontaneous, trusting child that, while a bit dependent, has the optimism to take the journey. Their greatest strength is the trust and optimism that endears them to others and so gain help and support on their quest.
Goal Remain in safety
Fear Abandonment
Dragon/Problem Deny it or seek rescue
Response to Task Fidelity, discernment
Gift/ Virtue Optimism, trust, hope, faith, simplicity
Pitfalls Naiveté, childish dependence, denial, obliviousness
Addictive Quality Denial
Addiction Consumerism/sugar/cheerfulness
Shadow Side Evidenced in a capacity for denial so that you do not let yourself know what is really going on. You may be hurting yourself and others, but you will not acknowledge it. You may also be hurt, but you will repress that knowledge as well. Or, you believe what others say even when their perspective is directly counter to your own inner knowing.
We begin with the Innocent archetype. The world provides all that we need. Then the “fall” occurs and we are faced with a loss of innocence and the Orphan archetype comes into play.

Orphan

The Orphan understands that everyone matters, just as they are. Down-home and unpretentious, it reveals a deep structure influenced by the wounded or orphaned child that expects very little from life, but that teaches us with empathy, realism, and street smarts. To fulfill their quest they must go through the agonies of the developmental stages they have missed. Their strength is the interdependence and pragmatic realism that they had to learn by being disillusioned.

Goal Regain safety
Fear Abandonment, Exploitation
Response to the Dragon/Problem Deny its existence, wishing for rescue.
Response to Task Overcome denial or identify with being a victim
Gift/ Virtue Interdependence, realism, resilience, empathy
Pitfalls wants caretakers and authorities to fix them
Addictive Quality Cynicism
Addiction Powerlessness/worrying
Shadow Side The victim, who blames his or her incompetence, irresponsibility, or even predatory behavior, on others, and expects special treatment and exemption from life because he or she has been victimized or is fragile. When this Shadow of the positive Orphan is in control of our lives, we will attack even people who are trying to help us, harming them and ourselves simultaneously. Or, we may collapse and become dysfunctional (i.e. “You can’t expect anything from me. I’m so wounded/hurt/incompetent”)
When everything seems lost, the Warrior rides over the hill and saves the day.

Warrior

Tough and courageous, this archetype helps us set and achieve goals, overcome obstacles, and persist in difficult times, although it also tends to see others as enemies and to think in either-or terms. The Warrior is relatively simple in their thought patterns; seeking simply to win whatever confronts them, including the dragons that live inside the mind and their underlying fear of weakness.

Their challenge is to bring meaning to what they do, perhaps choosing their battles wisely, which they do using courage and the warrior’s discipline.

Goal Win
Fear Weakness
Dragon/Problem Stay/confront it
Response to Task Fight only for what really matters
Gift/ Virtue Courage, discipline, determination, skill
Pitfalls Fear of impotence leading to ruthlessness, arrogance
Addictive Quality Stoicism
Addiction Achievement/success
Shadow Side The villain, who uses Warrior skills for personal gain without thought of morality, ethics, or the good of the whole group. It is also active in our lives any time we feel compelled to compromise our principles in order to compete, win, or get our own way. (For example, the shadow Warrior is rampant in the business world today.) It is also seen in a tendency to be continually embattled, so that one perceives virtually everything that happens as a slight, a threat, or a challenge to be confronted.
As the Warrior discovers his/her competence and power, the Caregiver emerges, moved by compassion, generosity, and selflessness to help others.

Caregiver

The inner Caregiver offers aid to those in need. Caregivers first seek to help others, which they do with compassion and generosity.
Goal Help others
Fear Selfishness
Dragon/Problem Take care of it or those it harms
Response to Task Give without maiming self or others
Gift/ Virtue Compassion, generosity, nurturance, community
Pitfalls Martyrdom, enabling others, codependence, guilt-tripping
Addictive Quality Rescuing
Addiction Codependence
Shadow Side Confirms itself in all manipulative or devouring behaviors, in which the individual uses caretaking to control or smother others. It is also found in codependence, a compulsive need to take care of or rescue others.
When fulfillment is not achieved with Caretaking, our journey takes us into the unknown exploration of the Seeker.

Seeker

The Seeker leaves the known to discover and explore the unknown. This inner rugged individual braves loneliness and isolation to seek out new paths. Often oppositional, this iconoclastic archetype helps us discover our uniqueness, our perspectives, and our callings. Seekers are looking for something that will improve their life in some way, but in doing so may not realize that they have much already inside themselves. They embrace learning and are ambitious in their quest and often avoid the encumbrance of support from others. Needing to ‘do it themselves’, they keep moving until they find their goal and their true self.

Goal Search for better life
Fear Conformity
Dragon/Problem Flee from it
Response to Task Be true to deeper self
Gift/ Virtue Autonomy, ambition, identity, expanded possibilities
Pitfalls Inability to commit, chronic disappointment, alienation, and loneliness
Addictive Quality Self-centeredness
Addiction Independence/perfection
Shadow Side: The Perfectionist, always striving to measure up to an impossible goal or to find the “right” solution. We see this in people whose main life activity is self-improvement, one self-improvement course to another, yet never feeling ready to commit to accomplishing anything.
When fulfillment is not achieved through self understanding, our journey begins to look Outward, to the relationship of the Lover.

Lover

The Lover archetype governs all kinds of love—from parental love, to friendship, to spiritual love—but we know it best in romance. Although it can bring all sorts of heartache and drama, it helps us experience pleasure, achieve intimacy, make commitments, and follow our bliss. The Lover seeks the bliss of true love – of the divine couple. They often show the passion that they seek in a relationship in their energy and commitment to gaining the reciprocal love of another.

Goal Bliss
Fear Loss of love
Dragon/Problem Love it
Response to Task Follow your bliss
Gift/ Virtue Passion, commitment, enthusiasm, sensual pleasure
Pitfalls Objectifying others, romance/sex addictions, out of control sexuality
Addictive Quality Intimacy problems
Addiction Relationships/sex
Shadow Side Includes the sirens (luring others from their quests), seducers (using love for conquest), sex or relationship addicts (feeling addicted to love), and anyone who is unable to say no when passion descends, or is totally destroyed when a lover leaves.
When disillusionment is realized by the Lover, our journey takes us into the chaotic lands of the Destroyer.

Destroyer

The Destroyer embodies repressed rage about structures that no longer serve life even when these structures still are supported by society or by our conscious choices. Although this archetype can be ruthless, it weeds the garden in ways that allow for new growth. The Destroyer is a paradoxical character whose destructiveness reflects the death drive and an inner fear of annihilation. Their quest is to change, to let go of whatever force drives them and return to balance, finding the life drive that will sustain them.

Goal Metamorphosis
Fear Annihilation
Dragon/Problem Allow dragon to slay it
Response to Task Let go
Gift/ Virtue Humility, metamorphosis, revolution, capacity to let go
Pitfalls Doing harm to self/others, out of control anger, terrorist tactics
Addictive Quality Self-destructiveness
Addiction Suicide/self-destructive habits
Shadow Side Includes all self-destructive behaviors—addictions, compulsions, or activities that undermine intimacy, career success, or self-esteem—and all behaviors—such as emotional or physical abuse, murder, rape—that have destructive effects on others.
Once we have learned the lesson of letting go from the destroyer, we reach outward even more, seeking meaning through a New identity

Creator

The Creator archetype fosters all imaginative endeavors, from the highest art to the smallest innovation in lifestyle or work. Adverse to stasis, it can cause us to overload our lives with constant new projects; yet, properly channeled, it helps us express ourselves in beautiful ways. Creators, fearing that all is an illusion, seek to prove reality outside of their minds. A critical part of their quest is in finding and accepting themselves, discovering their true identity in relation to the external world.
Goal Identity
Fear Inauthenticity
Dragon/Problem Claims it as part of the self
Response to Task Self-creation, self-acceptance
Gift/ Virtue Creativity, vision, individuality, aesthetics, imagination, skill, vocation
Pitfalls Self-indulgence, poverty, creating messes, prima-donna behaviors
Addictive Quality Obsessiveness
Addiction Work/creativity
Shadow Side Shows itself to be obsessive, creating so that so many possibilities are being imagined that none can be acted upon fully. We can fill our emptiness with yet another inessential project, challenge, or new thing to do. One variety of this is workaholism, in which we can always think of just one more thing to do. Creators, fearing that all is an illusion, seek to prove reality outside of their minds. A critical part of their quest is in finding and accepting themselves, discovering their true identity in relation to the external world.
Once we have discovered our uniqueness amongst others, we are ready to face life as it is and seek to make the best of our circumstances.

Ruler

The Ruler archetype inspires us to take responsibility for our own lives, in our fields of endeavor, and in the society at large. The Ruler’s quest is to create order and structure and hence an effective society in which the subjects of the Ruler can live productive and relatively happy lives.
Goal Order
Fear Chaos
Dragon/Problem Find its constructive uses
Response to Task Take full responsibility for your life
Gift/ Virtue Responsibility, control, sovereignty, system savvy
Pitfalls Rigidity, controlling behaviors, attitude of entitlement, elitism
Addictive Quality High control needs
Addiction Control/codependence
Shadow Side The ogre tyrant, insisting on his or her own way and banishing creative elements of the kingdom (or the psyche) to gain control at any price. This is the King or Queen who indulges in self-righteous rages and yells, “Off with his head.” Often people act this way when they are in positions of authority (like parenting) but do not yet know how to handle the attendant responsibility. This also includes people who are motivated by a strong sense to control.
When we learn that Ruling does not bring fulfillment, we are ready to enter the wonders of the Magician.

Magician

The Magician archetype searches out the fundamental laws of science and/or metaphysics to understand how to transform situations, influence people, and make visions into realities. Perhaps their ultimate goal is to transform themselves, achieving a higher plane of existence.
Goal Transformation
Fear Evil sorcery
Dragon/Problem Transform it
Response to Task Align self with cosmos
Gift/ Virtue Personal power, transformative, catalytic, healing power
Pitfalls Manipulation of others, disconnection with reality, cultist guru-like
Addictive Quality Dishonesty (image/illusion)
Addiction Power/hallucinogenic drugs, marijuana
Shadow Side The evil sorcerer, transforming better into lesser options. We engage in such evil sorcery anytime we belittle another, or ourselves or lessen options and possibilities, resulting in diminished self-esteem. The shadow Magician is also the part of us capable of making others and ourselves ill through negative thoughts and actions.
Satiated by our experience of power, we seek to combine our life’s experiences into an understandable state of wisdom.

Sage

The Sage archetype seeks the truths that will set us free by helping us become wise, to see the world and ourselves objectively, and to course-correct based on objective analyses of the results of our actions and choices. The Sage is a seeker after truth and enlightenment

Goal Truth
Fear Deception
Dragon/Problem Transcend it
Response to Task Attain enlightenment
Gift/ Virtue Wisdom, nonattachment, knowledge, skepticism
Pitfalls Being overly critical, pomposity, impracticality, lacking of feeling/empathy
Addictive Quality Judgmentalism
Addiction Being right/tranquilizers
Shadow Side The unfeeling judge—cold, rational, heartless, dogmatic, often pompous—evaluating us or others and saying we (or they) are not good enough or are not doing it right.

Fool/Jester

The goal of the Fool/Jester is perhaps the wisest goal of all, which is just to enjoy life as it is, with all its paradoxes and dilemmas. What causes most dread in the Fool/Jester is a lack of stimulation and being ‘not alive’. They must seek to ‘be’, perhaps as the Sage, but may not understand this.

Goal Enjoyment
Fear Non-aliveness
Dragon/Problem Play tricks on it
Response to Task Trust in the process
Gift/ Virtue Freedom, humor, life lived in the moment, exuberant joy
Pitfalls Debauchery, irresponsibility, sloth, cruel jokes, con, artistry.
Addictive Quality Inebriation
Addiction Excitement/cocaine/alcohol
Shadow Side A glutton, sloth, or lecher wholly defined by the lusts and urges of the body without any sense of dignity or self-control.

Article sources:  awakening-the-hero-within-hero-archetype-test; Awakening The Heroes Within Book;