By Carey Davidson
Special to JenniferMargulis.net
I used to have a delightfully predictable existence, one that didn’t require too much resilience.
My mornings began staccato and peppy, like Pop Rocks and soda. I mean, eye-roll, but I’m a high energy person and that was my every day.
I live in New York. At 7:48 a.m. I’d head out to the bus that ushered me to the train that went to Grand Central. I’d walk, up to 42nd Street and over to Madison Avenue. Madison was packed with familiar faces, city busses with magical call number combinations and a handful of trees just about to birth their little white puffy flowers that resembled recent snow.
I’d pass the Morgan Library on my left and turn onto 36th Street. Number 26 was on my right. I would enter the haven I built in 2013, Tournesol Wellness.
My days were packed with Five Archetypes consulting clients. People suffering painful challenges in love and at work came seeking relief. I could see the calm and groundedness they felt after I taught them my Five Archetypes model. In early March, my book launch was just one month away; the book that I wrote to share this transformative one-on-one system with so many more people.
Then came coronavirus. Resilience is everything for me now. Sound familiar?
Instead of the springtime I envisioned, all of New York is Ground Zero, this time for a pandemic that threatens everything: our health, our jobs, our sanity, and our freedom. My book comes out next week. I have family members who have Covid-19. They’re young with no health complications but still sick. One was taken by ambulance to the hospital because he couldn’t breathe. He’s 29.
Tournesol Wellness is shuttered for the time being and the beautiful people I worked with are, like me, sheltered in place.
So, I’ve been asking myself, how can I help? How is my life’s work relevant at a time like this?
We can confront the stress that threatens to overwhelm us.
The Five Archetypes and resilience in crisis
Once I figured that out, I grew more peaceful.
I’ll explain more about that in a minute.
But as you can guess, I get pretty emotional. I need calm, joy, and predictability to feel a sense of balance. I had a realization that helped me feel less worried and frantic: If we’re going to survive this pandemic and be stronger and better for it, we need to boost our emotional immunity and we need to transform our relationship to others.
That’s what I can contribute: a way to help you be more emotionally grounded. That’s what The Five Archetypes do.
The lesson of the Five Archetypes is that we can embrace our best attributes, build our core resilience, and welcome the differences of others even in a time of isolation and social distance.
The Five Archetypes are nature’s code for helping us predict and avoid pitfalls in love, work, and personal well-being. Based on the ancient wisdom of Chinese medicine that asserts our personalities are tied to basic elements, Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. These have been touted for millennia as the core forces of nature that help us master our relationship with others and ourselves.
Just as they help us understand disease and healing and the impact of the changing seasons on farming and plant life, they help us understand ourselves and others. I found it easiest to think of these elements as Archetypes. They are windows into our true selves.
We each have a mix of all five Archetypes in our nature, but one element that is primary. This main element helps us better understand how we interact with the world. It also reveals what we are likely to do in times of stress.
So, if you can understand your elemental makeup and your nature in a stressful time, you can better adapt. Likewise, if you can understand those around you (especially those you’re seeing 24/7 while sheltering in place), you can better care for them in their stressful state.
In this article, “Seven Secrets to a Vibrant Life,” Jennifer Margulis points out something that may at first seem counterintuitive. She argues that suffering is key to vibrant living. Even if you’re not sick and not in a high-risk group, you are most likely suffering right now. But what you do with that, how you move out of this stressful suffering to resilience will help you weather this crisis. And we each experience this shift in different ways.
The Archetypes can help us understand our physical health problems and the relationship we have to what is happening in the world around us. This knowledge can help us live a vibrant life even in the time of the pandemic.
Ultimately, it’s about balance.
We need to balance all five of our archetypes to build resilience. We need to move our bodies (wood), connect with loved ones (fire), feed ourselves properly (earth), stay consistent with our goals (metal), and get good rest and stay hydrated (water).
Our archetype in resilience and in stress
One of the most powerful applications of the Five Archetypes is understanding how you respond in times of stress.
Coping with stress in a personalized way builds resilience. When you become more resilient, you become the best version of you. You need that version of you, your family needs that version of you, and we—the rest of the global community—need the best you in a time when everything around us is crumbling.
Consider which element best applies to you:
- Wood: When feeling resilient, Wood is a survivor, pushing forward to reach goals, regardless of obstacles, and encouraging those around her to do the same. When feeling insecure, the Wood type experiences strong feelings of frustration and anger and becomes acutely sensitive to criticism.
- Fire: When feeling resilient, Fire serves as a source of optimism and hope for their own life trajectory and for that of those around them. When feeling insecure, Fire becomes over-sensitive and tends toward panic and anxiety.
- Earth: When feeling resilient, Earth is driven to create a sense of togetherness and comfort that benefits both themselves and those around them. When feeling insecure, Earth experiences strong feelings of overwhelm and becomes preoccupied with fitting in.
- Metal: When feeling resilient, Metal builds a sense of beauty, function, and standards that set the stage for the comfort of their own environment and that of those around them. When feeling insecure, Metal becomes overly critical and judgmental of self and others, worrying too much about making mistakes.
- Water: When feeling resilient, Water solves complex problems with ease, avoiding the trap of becoming entangled in other people’s emotions and ensnared in human drama. When feeling insecure, Water lacks that usual sense of tenacity and willpower, retreating into inner thoughts and believing it doesn’t have anything of value to add.Take the quiz to discover your element!
(Then come back and read the rest.)
Embracing others to move toward resilience
Our task is to embrace these differences in ourselves and others with compassion. We can achieve balance by practicing helpful traits that are not of our natural primary element.
For example, my fiery joy can cheer people up when they become stuck in grief. But I need to access my own limited Water skills to soothe my fear of the future. Water skills I can call upon include staying well hydrated, getting good sleep, and practicing meditation and other techniques to calm my mind and spirit.
Here’s another example: Metal can get stuck on the details of the news cycle, the right and wrong, the one cause. Even if you’re not metal, you may be spending way too much time fear-scrolling on Facebook and reading COVID-19 news. But here again, Water can offer us a solution. Water asks us to stay open. It invites us to imagine what else can be, what else is.
Close your eyes. Conjure up a happy moment from your past. Now imagine a happy moment in the future. See yourself healthy and surrounded by loved ones, doing something that brings you joy and helps others. As you imagine a different outcome rather than a calamitous end, you’ll notice the tension leaving your body and your breathing becoming more regular. When we immerse our Metal thinking in calm waters, we allow for the fact that there are endless possibilities. And peace finds us, anchoring us in a resilient way where uncertainty and stress had settled before.
By tuning in—instead of, say, tuning out on Netflix binging, or toilet paper hoarding—we can release grief and fear. We can stop the brain spin, leaving aside the hard questions about why all this is happening. Then we make space to find balance. In balance, we have greater access to our abilities to weather this storm.
About Carey Davidson: Carey Davidson, founder of Tournesol Wellness, is an expert in the business of self-mastery. Her groundbreaking system helps individuals and organizations catalyze the magic that unfolds at the intersection of frontier science and ancient teachings. Carey’s book, The Five Archetypes: Discover Your True Nature and Transform Your Life and Relationships (April 2020, Simon & Schuster), takes readers on a deep dive into her practical system that motivates perpetual growth and lifelong purpose. Learn more at FiveArchetypes.com and take the quiz to discover your element!
Published: April 2, 2020
Last update: May 3, 2020