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Excerpted from Gods in Everyman by Jean Shinoda Bolen. Copyright © 1989 by Jean Shinoda Bolen. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.
 


"To feel authentic means to be free to develop traits and potentials that are innate predispositions."

Jean Shinoda Bolen
Gods in Everyman
, Part 1

This book is about the gods in Everyman, the innate patterns – or archetypes – that lie deep within the psyche, shaping men from within. These gods are powerful, invisible predispositions that affect personality, work, and relationships. The gods have to do with emotional intensity or distance, preferences for mental acuity, physical exertion, or esthetic sensibility, yearning for ecstatic merger or panoramic understanding, sense of time, and much more. Different archetypes are responsible for the diversity among, and complexity within, men and have much to do with the ease or difficulty with which men (and boys) can conform to expectations and at what cost to their deepest and most authentic selves.

To feel authentic means to be free to develop traits and potentials that are innate predispositions. When we are accepted and allowed to be genuine, it’s possible to have self-esteem and authenticity together. This develops only if we are encouraged rather than disheartened by the reactions of significant others to us, when we are spontaneous and truthful, or when we are absorbed in whatever gives us joy. From childhood on, first our family and then our culture are the mirrors in which we see ourselves as acceptable or not. When we need to conform in order to be acceptable, we may end up wearing a false face and playing an empty role if who we are inside and what is expected us is far apart.

Conformity as a Procrustean Bed

The conformity demanded of men in our patriarchal culture is like Procrustes’ bed in Greek mythology. Travelers on their way to Athens were placed on this bed. If they were too short, they were stretched to fit, as on a medieval torture rack; if they were too tall, they were merely cut down to size.

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