There is always an inside story to every love affair. Indeed, our inner lives can be infinitively more interesting than our outer lives. In relationships however, when we tap into what is going on behind the scenes, we are then free to make self-empowering choices, and to change negative relationship patterns that may get us into trouble in the love stakes.

Our outer relating comes from inner depths we are not usually conscious of. In other words, inner forces animate our lives and relationships. Our history, our archetypal and family heritage as well as our childhoods, all have a part to play. These ‘roots of the soul’ have a resonance in our lives in that they give rise to our experiencing the world in certain ways. We may be predisposed to experience love in a particular way for example, or to imagine we can never find love. Or we may have a conflicted and painful relationship with love and commitment to another soul. Opposing emotions such as the need to love and be loved and the fear of being controlled and losing one’s identity may confuse us.

So how do we get to work on finding out what ‘lies beneath’? We look within. Our psyches house particular archetypes (inner forces) and they influence how comfortable we are in relating and how we think about love. These archetypes are inner players in the story of our lives. In addition, our early life experience and past relationships often determine the kind of lovers we make. In my last article we saw that two archetypes, the anima and the animus are particularly involved in relationships, acting as architects of love. The anima in the man and the animus in the woman will act as guides in the choice of partner and also determine how we will relate.

The Four Players

According to author Caroline Myss, there are four archetypes in particular that have a great deal of influence on our lives and that walk with us. They are the four main players in the inner drama that drives our lives. These are the Child, the Victim, the Prostitute and the Saboteur. They are our main survival archetypes and as such our intimate companions in life. They form the basis out of which we live and determine largely how we relate to others and ourselves. As the architects of our lives how each archetype lives in us is determined largely by the manner in which they are humanised for us by our early life experience. To humanise an archetype means to give human shape to an idea, a pre-existent pattern. Our first relationship with our parents and siblings for example, provide a template for future relating because they teach us what people and relating is all about.

It is important to remember that each archetype has a negative and positive aspect. The positive aspect of an archetype means the gifts that a person may develop as a result of experiencing life as an orphan for example, and the negative represents the shadow aspects or places where such a person may remain stuck. I have heard this dynamic described as benefits and baggage!

The gifts of the Orphan Child archetype for example, are the ability to endure and persevere in difficult circumstances and the development of independence and trust in one’s own ability to overcome obstacles and thrive. The shadow or negative aspects of the orphan child manifests in the inability to grow up and shake off the feelings of abandonment and rejection. The scar tissue from family rejection pushes such people into always trying to find surrogate families and structures or groups where they can fit in. Feelings of abandonment can propel many of us into relationships to experience a sense of belonging.

Inner Child

The child archetype embodies innocence and purity. Everyone identifies with the inner child. As children we are meant to be learning about life by playing and we are meant to live in our imagination and dreams, only gradually coming in to being. We are still partly in spirit. Many people believe it takes a full seven years for the spirit to incarnate. When children are forced to take on too much responsibility in early life then their spiritual development is disrupted. Since a loving home and parents is not a given, many of us will have suffered as children and we can suffer deeply when we are deprived of those special years when we are meant to be still innocent and living in our imagination.

The inner child in us can take many forms. If we have experienced an emotionally stark childhood, of felt ourselves abandoned emotionally, then we may have a strongly constellated ‘orphan child’ energy. Our inner child in such cases will feel wounded in that it did not experience the love it needed to thrive and may, as a consequence be driven into inappropriate relationships in adulthood in order to heal this early wound. Everyone at some level will have some kind of inner wounding as a child, and it is the child in us that guides us in adulthood to heal through relationships, particularly intimate relationships. Then there is the divine or magical child…..to be continued.

Next month: Inner landscapes of love: The Inner Child

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Benig is a pioneer in human consciousness, pushing the boundaries of knowledge to reach for truth and inner balance. She is a Jungian psychotherapist, writer and speaker specialising in spirituality and inner healing. Author of a number of critically acclaimed books, she is a frequent speaker at conferences on childbirth, parenting, relationships and healing, and she travels internationally to lecture and run workshops.