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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.
 


"Men are often caught between the inner world of archetypes and the outer world of stereotypes."

Jean Shinoda Bolen, Gods in Everyman, Part 3

This man had power and prestige, goals that take the better part of a manís life to achieve and that relatively few actually succeed in reaching. But, he suffered from the major ailment I see in many men in midlife: a pervasive low-grade depression. When you are cut off from your own sources of vitality and joy, life feels flat and meaningless.

In this culture, men have the upper hand and seem to have the better roles. Certainly they have the more powerful or remunerative ones. Yet many men suffer from depression masked by alcohol, or by excessive work, or hours of television, all of which are numbing. And many more are angry and resentful, their hostility and rage touched off by anything from the way someone else drives in traffic to the irritating behavior of a child. They suffer a shorter life expectancy, too. The womenís movement clearly articulated the problems women have living in a patriarchy; but judging from how unhappy many men are, living in a patriarchy seems to be bad for them, too.

The Inner World of Archetypes

When life feels meaningless and stale, or when something feels fundamentally wrong about how you are living and what you are doing, you can help yourself by becoming aware of discrepancies between the archetypes within you and your visible roles. Men are often caught between the inner world of archetypes and the outer world of stereotypes. Archetypes are powerful predispositions; garbed in the images and mythology of Greek gods, as I have described them in this book, each has characteristic drives, emotions, and needs that shape personality. When you enact a role that is connected to an active archetype within you, energy is generated through the depth and meaning that the role has for you.

If, for example, you are like Hephaestus the Crafstman and Inventor, God of the Forge, who made beautiful armor and jewelry, then you can spend solitary hours in your workshop, studio or laboratory intensely absorbed in what you are doing, and doing it to meet the highest standards. But if you are innately like Hermes, the Messenger God, then you are naturally a man on the move. Whether a traveling salesman or an international negotiator, you love what you do, and what you do takes a nimble mind, especially when you find yourself as you are prone to, in gray ethical areas. If you are like either one of these gods, and had to do the otherís job, work would cease being an absorbing pleasure. For work is a source of satisfaction only when it coincides with your particular archetypal nature and talents.

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