We all know about the ego:
It makes up our personality, beliefs and preferences.
It’s not the whole picture of who we are. But it’s a part of us.
If we’re unaware of our ego, we can’t see how it controls our choices in life and then we wonder why we sabotage ourselves and our relationships.
Now, imagine that there are 4 parts of you that are called the Child, the Victim, the Prostitute and the Saboteur.
Spiritual teacher and author Caroline Myss says that we all have these 4 survival archetypes and that each one has its own needs, desires and fears. These archetypes represent our unconscious emotions and insecurities.
Despite their dramatic names, these archetypes teach us how we negotiate away our power and unknowingly curb our potential.
The 4 survival archetypes deserve our attention and understanding if we want thriving relationships with ourselves and others.
1) The Child archetype
The survival archetypes form at an early age to keep us safe and small.
Similar to the inner critic, they often collaborate to protect us from shame, rejection and abandonment and base their motivations on our upbringing and negative life experiences. Each archetype has its light and shadow side.
When we have a fulfilled Child archetype, it lets us ease into play, fun, creativity and relaxation.
The shadow side of this archetype is that we carry childhood wounds into adulthood, unconsciously letting them dictate how we show up in life and relationships. We tend to pity ourselves, blame our parents for our difficulties, avoid responsibility and look for someone to take care of us.
This archetype resonates with me. I had forgiven my father for his emotional abuse long ago, but I didn’t realize how deep the wounds were.
EFT Tapping has shown me that the healing process happens in the subconscious and the body. It didn’t matter if I had chosen to stop being codependent. My Child archetype constantly appeared in my marriage, begging for attention.
For example, sometimes my Child archetype still doesn’t appreciate it when my partner Loïc tells me to calm down before speaking during a conflict. That part of me already feels abandoned in the moment, so being silenced and left alone tends to aggravate me even more.
That’s the ideal moment to do some tapping. Once I soothe myself, I can more clearly identify the archetype that reacted, communicate this information to my partner and find a solution.
When we learn how to parent ourselves, we become much more resourceful and empowered. (I offer EFT Tapping services to help you heal past wounds.)
2) The Victim archetype
The Victim archetype loves to come out to play in relationships.
It’s the part of us that feels powerless, doubtful, weak or unworthy. We see it in action when we fall into blame and control, and when we want to be rescued.
The light side of this archetype helps us become aware and empowered, so that we make aligned choices.
In a codependent relationship, there’s generally a “giver” and a “taker”. The giver feels worthless unless they fulfill the taker’s needs. It’s easy for the giver to identify with the Victim archetype because they sacrifice themselves for their partner.
Believe it or not, the taker can also feel like a victim when both parties trigger each other’s unhealed wounds.
And while the pain that motivates the Victim archetype is valid, this mindset ultimately creates disconnection.
I used to think that Loïc was the mean one in our relationship, especially because his angry outbursts scared me. Eventually, I recognized my own repressed anger and realized that we both suffered at each other’s hands.
My Victim archetype showed me how to stand up for myself and take responsibility for my part of the issue. This painful realization helped my partner and me to move forward with the healing process.
3) The Prostitute archetype
The Prostitute archetype is the part of us that compromises our body, mind or spirit for physical survival or financial gain.
It highlights the times when we sell our talents and ideas, or compromise our morals. The main lesson that we learn from this archetype is building our self-esteem and self-respect.
A classic example of the Prostitute archetype is staying in an unfulfilling marriage for financial security. Another example is when someone stays in a loveless relationship for the sake of their children.
Myss encourages us to reflect on these questions:
- Have I ever sold out to people or organizations that I did not truly believe in?
- Have I ever remained in a situation that offered me financial protection because of a desire for financial security?
- Do I judge others because they find themselves continually compromising themselves?
4) The Saboteur archetype
On the surface, the Saboteur archetype seems to do everything it can to hinder us and destroy our best efforts.
But ironically, the Saboteur’s role is to show us how we sabotage ourselves. Why would we impede our own success?
It’s always about the fears.
Maybe we start a relationship, but it seems too good to be true. We begin imagining all the things that could go wrong. That’s the Saboteur archetype in action. It tries to keep us safe from rejection and abandonment.
My Saboteur archetype had a nasty tendency to dismiss some of Loïc’s thoughtful gestures.
At the time, I grappled with receiving love, even though I craved it. (Sounds complicated? It is! The subconscious world can get tricky like that.)
A part of me believed that I wasn’t worthy of love. So naturally, the Saboteur reminded me to avoid getting hurt by not letting my partner get too close.
This archetype dominated much of who I thought I was. EFT Tapping has helped me release many past wounds (the work continues!), so that I feel fully deserving of love.
The 4 survival archetypes are our allies
Which archetypes can you spot in your daily life?
When do they come out to play?
We all have the Child, Victim, Prostitute and Saboteur archetypes within. They strive to take care of us by revealing our deepest fears and vulnerabilities.
They teach us how we undermine ourselves, how we negotiate our power away in the name of survival and ultimately, how to make empowered choices.
Becoming conscious of these archetypes and how they influence us helps us reach our fullest potential.
P.S. I’m offering free EFT Tapping sessions in exchange for a short interview. Learn more and book your session.
Annie Moussu is a certified EFT Tapping Master Practitioner helping women build confidence, set boundaries & enjoy healthy relationships. Get her free EFT meditation & guide for people-pleasing.
Further reading to heal your relationship: