Four Archetypes especially important in each person’s life are the Persona, Anima/Animus, Shadow and Self. Balancing these archetypes is the journey to becoming a unique person.
- Persona is our “Outer face” or Mask, a façade one exhibits publicly. Some of us have more than one — one for work and one for home. If one becomes too involved with the persona, “It’s just the way I am”, it’s called inflation and it becomes necessary to deflate in order to allow other sides of one’s nature to assert themselves.
- Anima / Animus is our “Inward Face” and it changes depending on the gender of the individual. The Anima is the Feminine side of male psyche and the Animus is the Masculine side of female psyche. They are often underdeveloped, and often projected onto other people in one’s life rather than becoming conscious of them in oneself. They are often shaped by the closest opposite gendered person or most familiar in one’s early childhood.
- Shadow is often the most unconscious part of a person. This archetype is probably the most powerful and potentially dangerous containing more of human’s basic animal nature than any other archetype. It needs taming rather than repressing or suppressing. Taming requires becoming aware and focusing on the unexpected personality pattern. Suppressing tends to cause an individual to appear shallow without much emotion. Repression can eventually overwhelm the ego. The ego and shadow can work in harmony in an individual who becomes aware of a personality pattern that he or she chooses to change.
- Self is the organizing principal of the personality and is known as Psyche. While it is there in use at birth it takes time to mature. Self-knowledge is the path on the journey to individuation or self-realization. This is the most challenging task a human faces. If we know more of ourselves, we experience fewer aggravations and irritations in life, because we recognize more of our self within. A person who does not know the unconscious self tends to project the repressed elements on others. Self-awareness helps us let go of seeking victims to blame and claim our own empowerment.