Insights you can get while standing on the thresholds of your life…
In fictional stories thresholds are often a sign that a magical moment is coming, a turning point in the journey the hero is taking. I am sure you can also mention several turning points in your life. Moments when you stood on a crossroad and you had to decide do I go left or right? As the year ends and turns into a new year in January, for me December always feels like I am standing on a threshold. It is the month I love to slow down or even stand still and reflect on the year passed and on the year to come.
The pathways I didn’t take…
When one reflects, one often focuses on the pathways one did take. Why did I take that one? What can I learn from that? Etc.etc.. Eventually that is the story one has chosen to live. It is no use to focus on what you didn’t do, because you can’t change the past.
But in the Narrative work one of the basic rules is that you always have a choice which story you want to live. You are the hero of your own story. You are by definition the one who makes a story out of the situation you are in.
This basic rule inspires me this morning to for once reflect on the pathways I didn’t take in my life. What would my life has been if I had chosen another direction when standing on the thresholds in my life. I followed my “What if-stories”. It gave me new insights in who I am and what is important for me.
My inner Servant
On the thresholds of my life the pathways I didn’t take where all the ones that were purely about me and what I want to do in my life. The ‘easy’ roads where I only had to take me into account and nobody else.
For example the threshold when I got a chance to get a job in Paris, but I stayed in the Netherlands because the sister of my mom was very ill back then. I decided that I wanted to be close to my mom and my aunt. What if I had only considered myself and had left for France? Or for example the threshold when I was offered a promotion at work to become team leader, but I chose to reject it, because I feared not to be able to have enough time and focus to be with my little kids.
Do I regret those decisions back then? No not at all, but the pathways I didn’t take in my life, do tell me something: I find it important to be at service for other people. Or archetypally said: my inner Servant is dominant in my life.
Is this dominant archetype truly mine or inherited?
The first question I always ask my clients when we meet a dominant archetype in their lives is: “Is this dominant archetype yours, or did you inherit its dominancy from one of your ancestors?” Because often that is the case.
Our parents and grandparents are examples for us in life. As children we automatically take their perspectives for granted. And therefore we also automatically copy the dominant archetypes of their boardrooms. Only later in life – for most of us this starts somewhere around the puberty- we start to discover who we want to be in life ourselves and what is important for us individually. And then we create most of the time subconsciously our own inner boardroom. But as the boardroom of our ancestors is already there, we have to deal with their dominant archetypes first, before we can install our owns.
This doesn’t necessarily have to be a struggle. Most of the time our parents, grandparents and other relatives are a good example for us. Their values and ways of living can be a perfect inspiration for how you want to live your own life. So not all the archetypes that are in your boardroom need to be replaced when you become more aware of your own individuality.
And that is exactly the reason why it is difficult to answer this question: “Is this dominant archetype truly mine or did I inherit it from my ancestors?”
“Be considerate of others!”
When I ‘cooked’ on this question for a while I realized that my mother always said to me: “Be considerate of others!” or “Take into account of your friends, or your little sister, or whoever, before you make a decision.” She never (or hardly ever) said to me: “Hé, what do you want in this case? Follow your own path.” My grandmother had a variation on this theme: “What would the neighbours think of this?”
But this didn’t mean for me that my inner Servant being at my boardroom table was a heritage from them. If I am asked who are the hero’s or heroines in my life, I always mention my mother and grandmother. The way they live their lives, including taking into account of others, is an example for me. I am proud of the “taking into account of”-message of my ancestors. Surely when I look into the world we are living in now, I think this message should be or could be shouted out more.
So I am proud my inner Servant is at my boardroom table. She -yes, for me my Servant is a she- can stay there and do and say, whatever she thinks this world needs.
Shadow side of our boardroom archetypes
But…. Every archetype has a light and a shadow side. The shadow side of the inner Servant is that the focus is to much on the “serving others”. If that is the case we don’t focus anymore on serving ourselves. If you have a dominant inner Servant you can be so focused on other, that you forget about taking care of yourself.
I have to admit that in my life that is often been the case. All my ‘pathways I didn’t take’ were about not choosing to serve myself, but choosing to serve others. And I hear it also from a lot of clients that I coach. We are human beings and we want to be there for others. That is gladly part of our meaning in life. But if you focus to much on others, there will become a disbalance in your own life. You need to be served too.
Or better said: You need to serve yourself too to be in total balance.
Light side of my inner Servant
A dominant Servant in your boardroom can perfectly serve you too. His or in my case her main question is: “How can I serve you?” Answer that question for yourself. What do you need at this moment? What do you long for yourself?
The answer can be something really big, but it can be also something small. Both are perfect as long as you are the one to be served.
Inspiration of the thresholds in life
Thresholds are magical both in fairy tales as in life stories. Stand still on them for a while when you realize you are on a intersection. Decide for yourself of course which road you take, but also realize what it means for you that you don’t take the other pathway.
Not that you have to doubt or reconsider the direction taken, but take the treasures out of pathways you didn’t take with you on the ones you do take. Those treasures make the story you do live so much richer and more in balance.
This was the message my inner Servant got for me today, while standing on the threshold of the last month of the this year. I do hope it serves you too.
To be continued….