career / Work

Archetypes at Work

After a very stressful President’s Day, which I have off from work, but spent dealing with a rejected time sheet and an inconsistent boss, I started to think about my self in relation to my own work. My boss exhibits many traits of the addict archetype, which Carolyn Myss describes as:

From a symbolic perspective, the shadow aspect of the Addict represents a struggle with will power and the absence of self-control. People who are extremely intellectual or emotional frequently have a close link to this archetype, because they struggle to balance these powers. Without this internal balance, the will may give up its power to an external substance that exerts authority, providing shadow order to your life. The shadow Addict compromises your integrity and honesty. Many addicts, for example, steal as a means of supporting their habit.

As a worker it feels like my boss’s experience as a literal addict, which was a lifetime ago for them, is a daily occurrence in the office. In periods of calm there is still very little forethought and planning and everything seems to be reactionary. Every quarter we have registration, and yet every quarter we find our office thrust into utter chaos, because in periods directly after the chaos, we don’t come up with any constructive plan for how to deal with it the next time. Like bobbing up and down in the large ocean swell, no time to decide to learn to swim before the next big swell comes and crashes over us. As a worker I find the chaos exhausting, and caught up in the cycle myself, during the good times I forget how much of a tailspin I go into when the proverbial apple cart gets upset.

I went into a tailspin like that yesterday, which ended with me talking for 2 hours on the phone with my best friend and teacher union worker AND bitching to my husband while also sending angry texts to my co-teacher and strongly worded emails to both my boss AND supervisor. My own archetypes react strongly in situations like this, for self-preservation, but it wasn’t actually until yesterday that I realized the pattern that I’ve been dealing with for the past 3 years is totally my own archetypes relating to that of the addict (in addition to others). What’s crazy is that, for all my personal work around archetypes I failed to even notice it affecting my boss, supervisor, co-teacher and people in the office. I feel empowered to go forward and let things affect me differently, or at least be less emotionally caught up in the addict spiral when it happens again.

What archetypes do you display at work?

It’s something I want to explore further, but I know that in my class I often play the Rebel, and the Trickster, and the Mentor. That Rebel comes out in my office hours, especially in bucking the system and feeling squelched by the chaos.


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