Archetypes- Jester

We all love to laugh. It is a universal human trait to have the corners of our mouths lift, the edges of our eyes crinkle into crows feet and the appreciation of humour bubble up from deep within, to create that unmistakable and delightful characteristic of fun, frivolity and foolishness. The laugh, the prize of the comedian, Jester, fool and joker, is a powerful leveler that brings humanity together as we marvel at our weaknesses, foolishness and strange rituals. It is also used to such good affect by school children picked on in playgrounds to diffuse potentially serious situations. Fast forward a few years and this person can develop into the heart and soul of a party in adult life. Humour is a tool that can turn darkness into light, ease the sting of pain through loss, hardship and anxiety and simply bring joy into every area of our lives.

William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Charlie Chaplin and Robin Williams to name a few were excellent Jesters, comedians who studied human nature and continue to allow us to laugh at ourselves. The pain of life can be overwhelming sometimes. Therefore, it is our ability to be able to laugh at ourselves and life’s drama, that enable us to take the heaviness away and lighten the load that we have chosen to bare.

The Jester is no Fool

In resorting to humour and jokes, people mistaken the Jester’s behaviour as shallow or stupid. Yet the Jester is no fool. The insightful observations Jesters share make fun of our egos and mock society’s rules.  Consequently, they raise a mirror to our lives and show us our own foolishness. We can get so caught up in the seriousness of a situation that we lose sight of the larger picture. I remember having an argument with a partner many years ago about the correct way to place toilet roll on the holder in the bathroom. After twenty minutes a friend came over and burst out laughing at how ludicrous it was to be fighting over such a thing. Very soon, we were all laughing and that particular habit became a funny story to tell and it never caused us angst after that.

The Jester’s joy at making us laugh brings fun and lightness into the world. As Roger Rabbit tells Eddie Valiant in Who Framed Roger Rabbit “Laughter is a very powerful thing.  Sometimes it’s the only thing we have.” A wise Jester indeed.  We need some of that in our lives once in a while.

Where did the laughter go?

Laughter is a very powerful thing. Sometimes it’s the only thing we have

I heard a statistic that children smile and laugh about 200 times a day. As adults we rarely reach ten. What has happened to us in that time? Why has laughter fled from our throats and smiles from our lips? I believe it is that we have forgotten that life is a game to play, to be enjoyed, explored, tested and challenged. The fear of making mistakes, getting things wrong and not being good enough leave a judge and jury to trial us at every step in our lives. No wonder we find it hard to let go and relax and enjoy the journey as it unfolds regardless of outcomes.

Recently I have begun to notice how little people reward themselves for simply taking action. The thought of enjoying the journey and taking the time to savour the moment is lost to many of us. It is more important to move on to the next thing rather than celebrate the last thing we have done. Yet we are motivated by reward- the feeling of pleasure and the chance to make life a joyous and enjoyable experience. We rarely make time for play. Perhaps we could find some time to be children again?

This type of humour is a powerful healer. The skillful Jester creates laughter to heal wounds that otherwise fester and pleasure to reward us for trying hard and doing our best. It makes us more resilient. We work harder, play harder, love longer, bounce back faster and deal with stressful situations better when we have been laughing and feel the lightness of life.

The Jester in Shadow

Yet, there is an under- belly to the Jester’s world that can be cruel and serves to diminish some, while placing others on pedestals. The Jester can act to harm, to belittle and self- agrandise. This is the shadow side of the Jester. We see this a lot in game shows on TV and in politics at work as well as governance. We must be careful not to turn this dark side in on ourselves, as well as others, for the sake of a cheap laugh.

The Jester can also get caught up in games and pleasure to the exclusion of important things.  If we are not vigilant, we can waste time entertaining ourselves and neglect taking meaningful action in our lives.  After all, we are looking for life balance (see blog on life balance here)- purpose and pleasure.

How does the Jester serve us?

As with all these archetypes, we are looking at them as tools to make the journey of life more manageable so that we may face life’s challenges with more courage and strength. The Jester is essential in this I believe. If we cannot laugh at ourselves then we are lost to compassion when we are being most tough on ourselves. To see our own folly is a potent healer. To smile at our mistakes takes the sting out of our failure and helps us to fight another day. We are more likely to learn from our mistakes in this mind set. When we are overwhelmed and under siege, the person that can laugh is usually the first to bounce back and find the way forward.

The Jester’s world is one of creativity, trust and a zest for life. This light, bubbly energy keeps our mood light. We are far more creative and solution focused when we think this way. That serious heavy mood brings us down and we cannot find a way out of it. Therefore, no solution presents itself. The Jester is not necessarily frivolous or time- wasting. The Jester chooses to see the funny side of all life’s situations and finds solutions that way. And if solutions do not present themselves, at least there is the consolation that we laughed through it. The heartache subsides much faster that way.

How do you court the Jester?

Smile. Place a smile on your face and your mood changes instantly. Someone just knocked on the door with a delivery for a neighbour. They disturbed my creative flow. Rather than be angry or frustrated, I chose to smile and we laughed together. The interaction could have been easily forgotten. Instead, it was memorable for me. I cannot say for the delivery- man. That is his choice and I leave it with him.

Watching other Jesters works well for me. By using TV, DVD or the Internet, a laugh is only a click or two away. Also, have those friends and colleagues that can help you see the funny side. Play frequently. Have those things that truly give you pleasure and remind you that life can be a joy. As an adult, things tend to be goal oriented. As a child play is often not driven by outcomes. Rather it is driven by pleasure, discovery and experience- the sheer creative flow of being in the moment.

It’s easy to give ourselves a hard time. Perhaps we could be less harsh on ourselves. As a result of its qualities, the Jester allows us to tap into that less serious side and find the pleasure and fun in every moment. After all, is not one of life’s great achievements to be able to say that you truly enjoyed your day?

Over to you

How big a role does humour play in your life? Do you use humour to lighten your mood? Can you relate to the Jester? Would you like more of the Jester in your life? Is there too much Jester in your life, leading to not getting enough done? What do you do to reward yourself for your achievements in life? How do you relieve the pressure of some of life’s situations? I’d love to hear from you and learn about your experiences of the Jester in your life. Why not share your experiences.  You may provide other people with insight and inspiration?

Pass it on

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Christmas- celebrating the Light of the Human Spirit

The Festival of Light

What do Christmas, Hanukah and Diwali mean to you? Are they purely a time off work or do they have a deeper message? What messages, lessons and ideas can you take from Christmas, Hanukah and Diwali into the rest of the year?

This is the time of The Festivals of Light. Christmas, Hanukah and Diwali are all religious celebrations commemorating the Light of the Human spirit. Candles and fireworks are lit to remind us that hope, forgiveness and kindness are human traits to celebrate and practice for the benefit of others as well as ourselves.

Candles and fireworks are lit to remind us that hope, forgiveness and kindness are human traits to celebrate

The symbol of Light in this way is prevalent across the world and throughout time. It is a universal image to which all people relate. Fire has been used for millennia to accompany sacred ceremonies and mark sacred time and space. This fire can represent the divine, that universal force that creates all and, it can illustrate the indomitable spirit within each of us, which marks our uniqueness and our collective humanity. The human spirit is a flame that can be neglected, ignored and covered over. It can also be nurtured, nourished and fanned to create a blaze. The various Festivals of Light are a reminder that we need to cultivate this Light within. I believe people are naturally born with this flame inside them. It holds their Light, uniqueness, innate talents and skills that can be shared with the world.

The Light of the Human Spirit

When we are born, we possess a presence and power that radiates out. Babies light up rooms and bring smiles to people’s faces. Young children are open and free with their emotions, laughing one moment, crying the next, then all smiles seconds later. They show confidence in expressing spontaneous behaviour, sharing unsolicited thoughts and being their authentic selves. This unhampered Light shines as children play, learn and express their love.

Things can happen to cover this Light. By being made to feel wrong for expressing emotions and certain behaviours, by not being supported and encouraged, by denying feelings and longings that are deemed inappropriate, through abuse, neglect and so much more, this Light becomes dimmed and fails to shine in the world with the clarity and brightness that it did in a person’s youth.

This process can start young or later in life. For the person concerned it feels like a void, a gap, even a deadness inside that is filled with pain and a yearning to be given a voice and take action. To the outside world, it might appear as a lack of confidence or commitment, apathy, even indifference. To them it feels frustrating, exasperating and ignites a desire for change. Regardless of how it appears internally or externally, this Light still burns furiously within. It needs uncovering, oxygen and nurturing. Done consistently, we can shine brighter, burn stronger, share our Light more fully and embrace the joy of doing and being that more completely.

Uncovering the Light

How do we start the process of uncovering the flame that burns within so that we can feel fulfilled and live with meaning and purpose? There is the journey of uncovering the things of the past that stifle the flame. And there are the things that happen in the present that if left unchallenged can further diminish our Light. We can learn strategies to uncover the things of the past and the present. This in turn improves our resilience so that we are better able to face life’s challenges. There are lots of ways you can explore these strategies. Coaching is one such method in which you focus on your goals for the future and explore your habits and beliefs and ways of being that prevent you from achieving those goals. Here are some areas that might be powerful for you to explore:

  1. Mind sets supportive to your success. Very often you learn scripts from the past that actually undermine you. These scripts can stop you stepping into your best self. Scripts such as “not good enough”, “not deserving” and “I’m a perfectionist” can be self- limiting beliefs that stop your growth in important areas of your life. By challenging these old beliefs and finding new scripts that are supportive to becoming the person you want to become, you can update your inner landscape so that you can step into new roles and new ways of being. This acts as fuel for your inner Light.
  2. Living in line with what is most important to you. You probably have areas in your life that you are very keen to protect. Perhaps it is time with the kids, your workout schedule or commitment to your career.  You set these boundaries up to make sure things do not encroach on them. You might even think of them as sacred. Yet there will also be areas where you are less robust in maintaining your boundaries and your life suffers accordingly. You might not be consistent with your eating or exercise habits. You might say you’ll do something when you have the time rather than making time to do it. By living your values you make a statement to yourself and others that what is important to you matters. This really nurtures the inner flame.
  3. Self care. So many people put others first. They do it so much sometimes that they wear themselves out, making themselves ill. Alternatively, people are all for themselves. They are number one and no one else gets a look in unless it serves them to think of others as well. This idea of self- care is a delicate balance. To get it right you can think of it as caring for yourself SO THAT you can care for others. If you are someone’s long- term carer, it is important that you get a chance to recuperate and rejuvenate yourself from time to time. You can’t keep giving endlessly. If you do you might become tired, frustrated and even resentful. You have to take from somewhere so that you can continue to give where you choose to give. So many people feel guilty about this, as if to say “I don’t deserve it” or “I don’t have the time”. If you continue this way you will dim your inner Light even though it is your pleasure to give and share. The Light needs fueling. Self- care recharges the battery.
  4. Mindfulness and awareness. Sticking your head in the sand and not dealing with things that are instrumental to your growth are sure ways to stifle your inner flame. However challenging these things might be to confront, it is harder to deal with them the longer you leave them and the more painful they are when you finally feel them. Unresolved emotions have a way of surfacing in a destructive and unsupportive manner. Deal with them on your terms and they can be voiced in a healthy and healing way. This takes awareness in the moment. It will take practice if you are not used to being this way. Like all new habits, it takes some time before it becomes easier. It is worth the investment. As you lighten the burden of undisclosed feelings, your Light burns brighter and makes you stronger.
  5. Reflection and Contemplation. Life can be a relentless journey. You can move from one event to another and never take the time to reflect or consider what you have learned, what could be different and how things might change. Perhaps you are so focused on what is coming up you don’t take the time to enjoy the event you’re in? You also might not think about events in the future either or how you might want your future to look. By considering these things with reference to your sense of what is right for you and where and who you want to be, you can fan the flames of your inner Light, orienting your life towards values- driven goals.
  6. Inner Council. You have so many qualities and aspects of your character that can be developed and discovered. You can learn to embrace and cultivate these innate talents, broadening and deepening your range to make you a more fulfilled and purpose- focused individual. Noticing how people you admire and respect achieve their great success can inspire you to tap into those aspects of yourself, allowing you to make those qualities your own and enjoy success in the way that is most fulfilling to you. Another way to access your inner council is to work with your archetypes. Clients on the Mindful Movement courses and VIP coaching days with me work closely with these ideas.
  7. Whatever you achieve in life, you do so with the help of others. To surround yourself with people who will support and nurture you in your endeavours is an essential part of life success. Where you might notice you lack certain qualities, there may be no need to cultivate those skills yourself. Instead, find the people that fill that space. Whilst you might need to learn new things these may not be your passions. Work to your joys and strengths. Life can be a rich tapestry and a variety of friends, colleagues and associates can serve your growth, fulfillment and purpose a tremendous amount. True friends and other people you can trust bring more flames together to create a raging fire and allow you to enjoy confidence, support and faith in the human spirit.

As we approach this season of Light, please remember to nourish this inner flame. Be aware of it for yourself. Also be aware of it for others. Be an advocate of nurturing this inner Light for all. This applies throughout the year, not just for the weeks around these festivals. The human spirit shines eternal. The more you care for yourself and others the more empowered you are and give people permission to be empowered. I believe this is the message of the Festivals of Light. An eternal and universal message that you can carry in your heart all year and apply to every moment of your life.

Over to you

How do you view Christmas, Hanukah and Diwali? How do they influence your thinking and behaviour through the year? Have you ever thought of the metaphor of the flame representing the human spirit? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please share them in the comment box at the bottom of the page.

Pass it on

If you know someone who might find this article useful or interesting, please send it to them by e- mail or through social media. I’d really appreciate your spreading the word. Have a great Christmas and New Year. I look forward to connecting in 2018.

Archetypes- Sovereign

When I speak to clients about fulfilment in their lives, I often hear them say that they fell into their careers, relationships and the places they live. The skill of making the best of what we have is an important one. We can create wonderful lives for ourselves this way.

Taking control

How about creating your life? How about taking control & being proactive?

Rather than always reacting to life, how about creating your life? How about taking control and being proactive in creating the career, life style, relationships and home etc. that you desire?

We all require self rule. To control our lives as we see fit and within the larger context of a global arena. In order to be Sovereign over your life, you want to take responsibility for your place in the world and the part you play in it.  To live confidently, with purpose, well- being and a sense of balance and harmony.  You also create and follow rules that allow your life and the lives of others to flourish.

If you do not do it, others will. Then, you become a pawn in the game of life. You may feel like a victim, disempowered when you see life’s events unfold against you. And when they are for you, you may feel no sense of power that you helped to create such fortune.

The Light Touch

To feel the weight of responsibility crushes some people and inspires others. Some thrive under the pressure of making sure people are cared for, that abundance flows in other people’s lives as well as their own. Standing in the Light of this role, they embrace the need to plan, strategise and take action decisively for the greater good. To own this responsibility is to take control of your life and plan for the future you dream for yourself and bring your friends, family, colleagues and partners along for the journey.

The Unsavoury side of Control

For those that do not embrace this role in Light, there is always the dark. Weak and manipulative, the Sovereign in Shadow is a tyrant. The school bully is a classic example, picking on the weak to demonstrate his strength.  This need comes from an inner weakness that leads to over bearing control, paranoia and cruelty.

As adults this can manifest as the dictator or the destructive leader who exploits others for his own gain. He takes the glory but never the blame. Modern rulers such as Muammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein are well known as tyrants. Anwar Sadat and Nelson Mandela might be considered leaders of benevolence.

Sphere of Influence

The archetype of Sovereign, the King or Queen, is a daily commitment to controlling the aspects of your life that are within your sphere of influence.  Consequently, understanding what is and is not in your control is the first step in leading with calm, confidence and effectiveness. To lead and give people autonomy comes from self assurance and humility. A great leader must have these qualities. He or she controls through freedom without fear of losing control.

The Sovereign applied

In coaching, it can be the Sovereign within the coach that guides the session towards empowering the client towards finding his or her own Sovereign.  As a result, the client has autonomy. This is how it should be. A client must feel totally independent to be fully empowered. Through this process inner transformation can be evoked. This is the true power of coaching.

Every week I see clients work at taking control of their careers, relationships, health and well- being, businesses, finances, education, personal development and more. And when life throws curve balls I see them working to create outcomes that serve them and the people in their lives.

One client for example was in a long career that he felt served him less and less. Through coaching he found a much more fulfilling career path in which he makes a huge positive difference to young people’s lives. That strength and resolve to take control and create a life of meaning, purpose and beauty is the Sovereign in action.

Over to You

Where does your Sovereign show up in your life? How can this be of benefit to your life? Can you see where your Sovereign might be over controlling or not controlling enough? If you’d like to take more control and create more of the life you want for yourself, why not get in touch and we can discuss your needs?

Pass it on

If you know someone who would benefit from this article, why not pass it on? People are just waiting for the right inspiration to take that next step forward in their lives. Perhaps this blog could be that inspiration for someone you care about?

Post Script

You are a complex combination of qualities, some of which are obvious to you and many others that are not.  The archetypes are a useful tool to explain and demonstrate how to bring these qualities forth and how they manifest in your life.  There are the qualities that are supportive of your best self (the Light side).  There are those that are detrimental to your best self (the Dark Side made infamous in the Star Wars series).  In my Mindful Movement Courses I work with the archetypes to bring forth the qualities that can be supportive to realising your best self.  There are many archetypes, too many to cover in a single course.  I have chosen six: Warrior, Lover, Rebel, Magician, Jester and of course Sovereign.  I hope by writing this series of blogs, I will be able to explain their power and usefulness to you in your life.