I’m going to tell you something personal.
I talk to myself, a lot.
At my desk, in bed, walking down the street, at the grocery store. Most of the time it’s in my head but sometimes I bless the world with out-loud streams of weirdness.
When I do this, I’m essentially trying to solve a problem. And to be completely honest, most of the time I’m not actually talking to myself…I’m talking to one of my other selves.
I’m calling these weird moments of self-talkery, “Archetypal problem solving,” which means, I’m using one of my three archetypes that I created as a way to cope with solving problems in times of utter chaos:
1. My child self.
2. My woman self.
3. My grandmother self.
However, before I get into the details of each archetype, I want to tell you how I got to this point.
Our brain is wired to solve problems using our past experiences and merging them with what we’re currently experiencing. Some of the more intelligent human beings will also see how this choice can potentially play out in the future. Ultimately, our decisions are based on all three of these things.
With this basic understanding, I started to try to be more conscious about how I was solving problems using information from my past, present and future, and tried to observe how each one influenced my decisions.
I started by looking at my existence and how it manifested in each part of my past, present and my future.
Who I am in the past:
My ancestors, my conception, my birth, my childhood, my yesterday, other people’s ideas embedded into me.
Who I am in the present:
The way I analyze things in front of me, how I utilize my past experiences to navigate the world, how I define myself in the moment and my aspirations for the future.
Who I am in the future:
The choices I will make, my destiny, how I will contribute to this world, my lessons learned.
These three ways of looking at a problem allow us to find a variety of solutions that we otherwise wouldn’t have. Take for instance these combinations of solutions:
Problem: I just lost my job and don’t know how I’m going to pay rent.
Past input: You’ve always been amazing at getting jobs.
Present input: I will text my network to find a new job.
Future input: You hated that job anyways. Do what you were meant to do.
Problem: My client has not paid me and now they’re ignoring my calls.
Past input: My last client paid me after I threatened them with a lawyer.
Present input: I will create more work for myself to make up for the difference in income.
Future input: I will be more picky with who I work with from now on.
Eventually, this concept of past, present, and future started to get too big for my brain. “Past, present, and future” is a great way to naturally approach problems on a subconscious level.
However, when it comes to making sense of it all and trying to empathize with myself when I was being an asshole about something, “past, present, and future” wasn’t talking to me in a way I could respond to.
I realized I needed a more simple and relevant way of looking at things, something that could calm the asshole down.
Now I’ll be honest right now, as far as a smooth transition between the two frameworks, I am crediting my intuition and ability to reflect for the creation of these three archetypes.
I have no clue how I went from thinking “past, present, and future” to thinking about “child, woman, and grandmother.” Shortly after my realization that “past, present, and future” weren’t working for me anymore, I realized that I had already seen a glimpse of a different way of approaching problems.
Every now and then, I’d notice a childlike part of my personality would come out and either throw a tantrum or be completely full of joy about a situation.
And then after about six months of getting to know this childlike part of me more, I started to meet another part of myself that was much more wise and put-together. I called her my grandmother-self who I noticed was really great at silencing the child in the midst of a tantrum.
Ultimately, the emergence of these two parts of myself brought me to the final archetypes I presented earlier:
My child self:
She is playful and excitable. She can have tantrums. She is my past. She represents innocence, impulsiveness, black and white with no grey. She is curious and free, and unapologetically blunt because blunt is the truth.
My woman self:
She is power. She is analytical. She is today. She stands up for herself, but is insecure at times. She represents passion, intellect, protection and growth. She is searching. She is smart. She makes decisions that no one else would make. She strives for balance. She is practice.
My grandmother self:
She is soft and kind. She observes in silence until it’s the right time to talk. She is patient, but she is firm. She loves unconditionally. She is always right, but not because she is old, because she is knowledge. She is always smiling, even when she sees the other two have made mistakes. When I am lost, she shows me the way. She transcends time. She is feminine. She is the spirit who heals all. In fact, she is all.
Let’s take a moment to reflect on the power within these archetypes.
How can we start to apply our three selves to some of the situations we’ve been in lately?
When I was feeling guilty about being lazy the other day:
Child: I’m not getting anything done and because of this I’m going to fail.
Woman: I’m super tired and don’t feel like doing anything right now but I feel a little guilty.
Grandmother: You’re tired so you need to rest. Your things will get done eventually. Either way you will learn how to do it better next time.
When I caught myself about to judge someone in public:
Child: That woman looks like a –
Grandmother: That woman is one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen. I thank God for all of the beautiful women in this world.
When I knew my car had to get looked at but I was worried about money:
Child: If you get your car fixed you’ll be even more broke and amount to nothing.
Woman: I’m going to avoid getting my car looked at.
Grandmother: If you face the issue, I will provide you with the best solution…either your bill will be affordable or I will provide you with a new mode of transportation.
In closing, it’s our responsibility to be conscious of which parts of us we’re letting run the show. Although there are benefits to listening to each one, we must make sure that we are providing the space for Grandmother to speak as often as possible.
When I’m too busy or not slowing down to reflect on my choices and my behavior, I’m essentially not making the space for Grandmother to speak to me. Although she’s always there waiting to speak at the right moment, if I don’t give her the opportunity, I wont ever hear her.
Ultimately, I hope that this framework of “Archetypal problem solving” helps you see your environment in a new light.
Author: Lauren Peters
Apprentice Editor: Bria Luu/Editor: Travis May
Photo via Jes/Flickr