Are you bored, lethargic, lonely, feel alienated or empty inside? Is the monster of the status–quo running your life? Are you stuck?
Complaining and whining, or waiting for a rescue will not help. However, being quiet and reflective, checking out your inner landscape and consciously exploring the deeper parts of your self will connect or re-connect you with your inner warrior. The journey awaiting you usually goes into the inner world first and then into the outer. By traveling into the depth of our being with eyes open we become more authentic and I can’t think of anything better we can do for ourselves or our children than to live authentically and responsibly.
If you want to change your present condition, action is the only way and for that you will need your warrior energies. Before we act and encounter the outer world we need to make a strategy, because we will have to face both terror and exhilaration when we follow our inner vision. This reminds me again of the unknown poet who said, “What fascinates and terrifies is the way of the soul.”
Many times when we decide to make a change and blaze a new trail we get discouraged by colleagues, friends, teachers, parents and insurance companies. Check out their motivations. Is it fear, control or envy? Often we’ve been advised to stay as safe as possible. The ego wants security, but the soul wants to live! There are no guarantees in life, the variables are infinite… but we can’t live a soulful life without going on a quest at the right time.
The Inner Warrior
If we continue to repeat the same neurotic self-destructive patterns, avoid making changes and are mostly undisciplined, we’ve disconnected from the warrior archetype. Our inner warrior helps us fight the enemies within – inertia, addictions, irresponsibility, denial, laziness, and cynicism. It takes strength to tolerate frustration and delay immediate gratification. Warrior energy helps us to make a plan and stick to it. We begin to trust our own perceptions of life and our own truth rather than someone else’s, which has been imposed on us early in life. Most of all, our internal warrior gives us courage to face our fears…. i.e. fear of failure, fear of defeat, fear of poverty, fear of humiliation, fear of disapproval etc.
The Warrior In The Outer World
The warrior archetype had its roots in the hunter archetype of our early ancestors and was about survival of self and tribe. If over time you were unsuccessful as a hunter/warrior you would die and so could your family. In modern times the warrior energy has shifted from the hunt. Today we can witness the warrior archetype displayed in athletics, schools and especially the workplace.
At its best the warrior archetype calls us to have courage, strength, a sense of fairness and stamina. Other characteristics include the ability to defend oneself and loved ones verbally, legally and when necessary physically. The warrior lives by and fights for values and principles even when doing so are financially or socially costly. Warriors claim power in the world and commit to making our planet a better place.
Warrioring includes protecting the weaker and to “show up” when required. “Showing up” means sticking to commitments – going to work even though you have to drag yourself there, confronting your boss or asking for a raise, following your vision without anyone’s help, opposing the majority view, or locking your mother in-law from hell in the basement with bread and water only and so forth….
Women And The Warrior Archetype
Even though the warrior archetype has been traditionally rooted in the male culture, the inner warrior is equally important and alive in women in today’s world. Unfortunately, traditional society has only condoned direct assertiveness by men. Women are often tagged as unfeminine or worse when they resort to healthy assertion, but times are changing and from these changes we all benefit. Many women get connected to the inner warrior by initially fighting for their children or other people and only later learn to fight for themselves. If we don’t have an internal warrior we’re not able to defend ourselves from abuse, neglect or from being undervalued. All of us need to be able to support ourselves economically in our highly competitive society. Our present day ‘hunt’ is to find a satisfying job. Economically, we live in a warrior culture. So we better get our chops together.
The Shadow Side Of The Warrior
The dark side of the warrior archetype is abuse of power, arrogance, exploitation, bottomless greed and ambition. These pseudo-warriors have an obsessive, ruthless and unprincipled need to win and defeat. Anything goes in order to gain power, money and status. Feeling superior is always a compensation for feeling inferior and empty inside. The soulful warrior protects and enables others. He/she never uses the sword, pen or ‘the spoken word’ to harm others unless absolutely necessary.
There are plenty of deviant pseudo-warriors in our corporations, on Wall Street and in the general business culture. Their anthem is based on fear and paranoia… ‘Do unto others before they do unto you’ or ‘What can you do for me?’
The suits are always talking about ‘wiping out the competition’ or ‘making a killing’. At the bottom of this corrupt culture is a deep fear of survival, a sadistic streak and malicious narcissism. I met quite a few of those deviants when I worked in L.A. many moons ago. They come to therapy not to become more soulful, but to become better sharks than the sharks all around them. To Hell with them, it’s time for a revolution!
Our small community (Ojai, CA) is much more deeply affected by quiet, even invisible acts of service, kindness, sacrifice and generosity than by those seeking applause, fortune or fame. I’m fortunate to have known quite a few of those invisible warriors over the last two decades. What is best for all concerned lies at the root of the warrior’s energies. Courage is employed for the greater good. The goal of the warrior archetype is to find peace with oneself, with others and the world. The better the warrior, the less the violence. Freedom starts when we become aware of the outdated roles we’ve been stuck in and fully realize we can choose a brand new path. Joseph Campbell used to warn people that they can climb the ladder to success only to find it leaning against the wrong wall. Thanks to Carol Pearson, PH.D. for her many contributions to this article.