“I may not be much but I’m all I think about!” That’s my moto when my head is cluttered with worry, anxiety, and fear of the future. What if I lose what I have and don’t get what I want? When I get like this I try to fix others, I try to become their “savior”, when what I really want is for them to fix me! The suffering I endured in saving others from their pain was in reality a gift to me.
When my mother had her stoke and lost her ability to stay in her own home, my thinking became sick. The darkness and difficulty of taking care of her was the catalyst for change, but not good change. Taking mother to the hospital and sitting at her bedside was draining. I worried about how my teenage son was getting along at home. How was I going to manage my part-time job? The worries and problems piled up and piled on. This ‘selfish savior’ pattern did not move me out this suffering—actually, it made things worse. I was everyone’s savior. I was sent on a mission. My mission, as I saw it, was to save my mother, my son, my family, anyone I felt was in pain. I felt their pain deeply, and I thought it was all about them. But the Savior archetype shadow side taught me that my obsession to fix people, places, and things was actually all about me. My soul was neglected and complaining. Until I chose to take regular, small, positive actions to save myself, nothing changed.
“If you don’t transform your suffering, you transmit it.” -Richard Rohr
Supportive friends, my husband with his well-timed, appropriate sense of humor, and a wise spiritual director helped me choose the light side of the savior archetype. The small actions for self-care were life-saving. They were my candles, my light in the darkness.
Appropriate Savior archetype actions can be prayer, moments of mediation, journaling, knitting, yoga, hugging a tree, writing gratitude lists, inhaling essential oil blends, and lots of deep, regular breathing exercises. Proper oxygenation and calming myself to switch from fight-or-flight to relaxation helped greatly. The results showed that working with the light side of the savior archetype helped me to slow down and begin a friendship with silence. Finding the present moment even just for a few seconds of silence was enough fuel to help me cope with my aging mother, a moody teenager, and the responsibilities of my job, marriage, and home life. These were very small intentional changes to save myself. The Savior archetype experience helped me to give others the dignity to be their own saviors, and only take responsibility for my own mind, body and spirit, not theirs.
“We do not think ourselves into new ways of living, we live ourselves into new ways of thinking.” -Richard Rohr
The essential oils I used in my deep breathing exercises included Eucalyptus radiata, Juniper, juniper communis, Bergamot, citrus aurantium bergamia, Thyme, thymus vulgaris, Clary Sage, Salvia sclaria, Cedar, and Atlas, cedrus antlantica. I recommend picking two or three from the above list and blend them at 1% or 2% concentrations in vegetable oil. Place them in a diffuser, bath, or just inhale 3 to 4 times. Add deep breathing exercises often, and the mind will open the heart and relax your body to lose its unconscious defensiveness, even for mere moments. These moments are blissful and full of peace. Being in the moment, as Mystic Eckart Tolle says, is where the busy mind is relieved and finds peace. May you choose to save yourself first, and slow down and spend some much needed time with your soul.
Hillman, James, (1996). The Soul”s Code in Search of Character and Calling; New York: Random House.
Myss, Caroline, (2003). Sacred Contracts; Awakening your Divine Potential; New York: Harmony Books.
Rohr, Richard, (2011). Breathing Underwater; Cincinnati, Ohio: St. Anthony Messenger Press.