The Teacher archetype asks us to trust. Trust in the process. Trust in the universe. Trust in the lessons. Trust in yourself. Trust implicitly, absolutely, blindly. You don’t have trust issues, do you? Yeah, me neither…
So how do we trust? Where do we start? And what exactly do we get from going blindly into the unknown, simply putting one foot in front of the other? What’s the payoff? Because, let me tell you, before I take one more step forward, I need to know why I should trust? Wait a minute…
Be open to the outcome, but not attached to the outcome.
We begin with detachment. When we detach from expectations, we can move more fluidly. When we move fluidly, we can respond and adjust to whatever comes our way. We are not thrown off balance because we trust that we will get where we want to go, even if the ultimate destination wasn’t on our original map. Detachment is so important that I’m going to offer a couple ways you can start to see what you’re attached to now:
Look for where you lose your sense of humor. Not where you are serious because it’s appropriate to be serious, but where you can’t laugh at yourself, or you find yourself offended.
When you feel a sense of resignation, that’s a sign of an attachment. (Thanks Angeles Arrien, again)
Balance is another gift of the Teacher. Balance isn’t a stationary, singular position, it’s a more narrow field in the center. Yogis in balance poses may look peaceful and still, but every muscle is activated to hold them in place. We have balance when we are not easily knocked off track, when we are able to keep our focus and our center. When we have balance, we find how flexible we can be.
When you embrace the energy of this archetype, you also find another way to step into your power. The power offered through the Teacher is different from the more action-oriented power of the Warrior. The Teacher's power comes from detachment; it requires that you detach from your expectations about an outcome so you can better trust in the ultimate outcome. If that sounds a bit paradoxical, you’re right on track.
With detachment and balance we are able to better discern. Detachment, balance, and discernment are like three points of a triangle, or three circles in a venn diagram. They work together and flow together, these are the three elements of our great Teacher archetype. Discernment allows us to see clearly and make balanced decisions that come from a place of non-attachment.
The Teacher’s Shadow
1. Control Issues
What do we do when we don’t trust a situation or are attached to an outcome? We try to control. We look for ways to guide things in the direction we see as best. When we redirect away from flow and toward our interests attachments, we are saying that we know better than anyone or anything. When we are detached from the outcome and trust that we will end up exactly where we are meant to be, then we can exist in peace and stop trying to control everything and everyone in our path. Stop being so fearful, and start trusting -- just a little bit.
Where do you strive for perfection at the sacrifice of excellence?
Perfectionism lives here too. Perfectionism and control communicate that you believe vision is the way and that there is no better way than what you’ve deemed perfect. The perfect process, the perfect outcome, the perfect reputation, the perfect career, relationship, friendship… You know exactly what that is and how to get there, huh? Yeah. Arrogance is another roommate in this shadow expression.
Control and perfection leave no room for possibility. What if a path you didn’t consider could bring you to a kind of joy and success you never thought to dream of? Being fixated on how you believed things needed to be, cut you off from that potential. Be open and flexible. Don’t allow perfection to interfere with excellence.
2. The Judge / The Critic
When you pass judgments you are weighing on one side or another, you are out of balance, and not in an objective place. When you are in such a place you are unable to be discerning. “Discernment is the ability to respect appropriate context, timing and content. ...When we are caught in the shadow side of discernment, we find ourselves being blunt, inappropriate, and ignorant of context.” (The Four Fold Way)
Who are you to judge?
When we look at someone and say they should do this or they should do that, it is an act of arrogance to presume we know someone else’s life so intimately that we can say what is best for them. Judgment is a more passive version of control.
Criticism is judgment’s harsher sister. Criticism never favors and only says where you failed, or could have done better. If you find yourself judging and criticizing others, always finding faults in their actions, constantly thinking “if only they’d….”, then you can be 100% sure you are doing the same thing to yourself and you are in the trenches of the teacher’s shadow.
If it’s too much to ask that give yourself more grace, then begin with those around you. Try to remember that we are each and all doing the best we can with the tools we have. We don’t know what it’s like in someone else’s head or heart, so give space for them to do their thing. As long as it’s not harming anyone, who cares if they salt and vinegar chips on chocolate cake? Little by little, you can also start allowing yourself more space to do things less than “perfectly”.
There’s a theme running all through this archetype and it’s not stopping just yet. We’re circling back to, well, everything. When you are positional you are attached to an idea or direction or outcome. You lack flexibility and are thereby continuing to control. So, again, detach, zoom out, allow for possibility, and trust that life is happening for you, not to you.
Shifting the lens
It’s easier said than done to Trust. There are some mechanisms, active and passive, which can help you work your way to a more detached, flexible, trusting place.
Actively ask different questions. Instead of asking, “Why is this happening to me?” ask, “What lesson(s) are is there to learn?” or “What is the higher purpose in this?”
Or, you can refuse to change and just let the Trickster do his thing. Trickster is a whole mood. Trickster is a force to not be reckoned with. Trickster’s got jokes. Trickster will show you exactly where you’ve been stuck in your thinking, attached to an outcome, positional, or judgmental by throwing a wrench in whatever you thought you were doing and forcing you to shift gears or directions. Trickster loves you. Trickster has been much maligned and deserves its own post. There’s way too much to unpack here.