Who Are YOU? Understanding Yourself Through Friendships & Archetypes


Earlier this year, I met a woman who I recognized instantly as a Soul Sister. Have you ever had that experience? You strike up a conversation and although you've never spoken with a person before, it's as if you've known each other all your lives? It's absolutely magical in so many ways. And although this woman and I were only together for a few short hours, I knew we were forging a long-term friendship. And when I emailed her to tell her how much I'd enjoyed connecting, she replied, “It felt so good to be seen and understood by you!”[Sarah McG1] 
That phrase really struck a chord with me. It made me think about how human beings have a deep-seated need to express ourselves, but more than that, we want to be heard, seen, and known. It's one of our most primal emotional instincts.
Yet many of us struggle to be fully heard, seen, and known because we don't know ourselves
We've got a handle on the basics, of course; the roles we fill in our relationships, the skills we've honed, our likes and dislikes. But although we yearn for the freedom to be ourselves, we sometimes wonder who the hell we'd BE if we could fully and authentically be ourselves!
There are countless ways to undertake these internal explorations. But today I want to touch on two key ways to discover more about your core identity, both of which have helped me tune into my true self: Friendships and archetypes.

Friends as mirrors

There's literally nothing more personal than identity. Who you are is utterly unique and specific to you, so the idea of understanding yourself by examining other people may seem downright strange! But if you're eager to find out who you are and struggling to unearth anything useful just by contemplating your life events and personality, it can help to turn your gaze outward. You don't need to define yourself by comparing; In fact, doing that can be destructive and painful. Just think of the women you admire as mirrors, reflecting elements of your inner self back at you.
Think about your close friendships, but also family members, work colleagues, any women in your life about whom you have strong and definite feelings. Then ask yourself these questions:
-  What do I admire most in this woman?
-  What does she do in her life that I wish I could do, too? What do I want to emulate?
-  What about her personality or behavior rubs me the wrong way?
-  What decisions has she made that caused me to sit up and take notice? (In either positive or negative ways.)
-  What do I have in common with her?
Whenever we see a quality in another person that we want to nurture within ourselves, we are inspired tap into that quality and cultivate it in our own lives. When we admire a trait within another woman, it's often because it reflects back something about ourselves that stirs our pride. When we are irritated or turned off by a quality or behavior, it's usually something about ourselves that we struggle to understand or manage. When we consider comparison from this angle, it becomes less about competing and more about processing.
We can discover who we are by seeing ourselves in other women.
What we see in them may seem specific, but is often universal. The women we admire emulate archetypes through their decisions and choices, whether they realize it or not. And when we see archetypes outside of ourselves, it helps us see them within ourselves.

Archetypes as guides

So much of my work comes back to the four central archetypes that each woman channels: Mother, Lover, Warrior, and Sage. I see these four figures everywhere, in my own life, the lives of those around me, art and culture, relationships … they pop up again and again! Just this summer, I saw them so clearly in the film “Wonder Woman,” a character who embodied all four so elegantly; the mother (nurturing), lover (sexy and passionate), warrior (brave and strong), and sage (wise). And seeing her channel them helped me see those qualities within myself.
I firmly believe that these archetypes can be helpful guides for anyone eager to explore her inner self.
These archetypes are far from new. In fact they are ancient, and have been present across many cultures for millennia. But I hope to present them in a new way, one that will help you find out who you, as an individual, truly are. Let's start by making the universal into something personal. Ask yourself these questions:
- What does the Mother mean to you? How do you express being a Mother, even when you are not parenting?
- What about this archetype feels important to you?
- What about this archetype clashes with your ideas about yourself?
- What does the Lover mean to you? How do you express being a Lover, even when you are not being sensual?
- What about this archetype feels important to you?
- What about this archetype clashes with your ideas about yourself?
- What does the Warrior mean to you? How do you express being a Warrior, even when you are not fighting for your beliefs or defending yourself or your family?
- What about this archetype feels important to you?
- What about this archetype clashes with your ideas about yourself?
- What does the Sage mean to you? How do you express being a Sage, even when you are not steeped in contemplation?
- What about this archetype feels important to you?
- What about this archetype clashes with your ideas about yourself?
You may NEVER have thought of yourself in these specific terms before, but they resonate, don't they? When we, as women, are given the language (Mother, Lover, Warrior, Sage) we are suddenly able to see those dimensions within ourselves. 
Naturally, one or two of the four may feel more strongly resonant to you. I consciously struggle to balance them myself; Sometimes I’m off balance and one characteristic dominates. But I strive to keep them all in the mix, and draw on their guiding energies when I feel lost or overwhelmed.
And I hope you'll consider that tactic for yourself. Keeping these four dimensions of self in mind as you seek deeper understanding is a rewarding and time-tested way to unlock your true identity. Of course, it won't be easy. As women we can be impatient and eager for a quick and easy answer. But we need to call in the Warrior to do the hard work needed to unearth profound insight and understanding.
I hope to write more on these topics in the coming months and am planning an exciting larger project around identity and the four archetypes, so stay tuned for more! 
And I welcome your questions and input on the ideas I've shared today. How have YOU sought to understand and embrace your true self?

 [Sarah McG1]This is something that happened to me, but I figured it was universal enough to use here! Hope that's OK!