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The warrior archetype can be found in art across time and culture. It is a part of the human psyche that we can all access and use to improve our lives and the lives of others.

Historically, warriors were essential for protecting one’s community and the traits that make up a strong warrior were therefore typically valued by people. This is reflected in the heroic tales about warriors as well as how they are represented in visual art, from cave paintings to photography in more recent times.


The virtues of a warrior


The archetypal warrior always meets great challenges which he or she must overcome. This requires the warrior to draw on virtues such as strength, courage, and determination, which eventually leads to victory.

Think for example of when Aragorn (Lord of the Rings) saves the hobbits at Weathertop or when Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games) faces Cato on the great horn in the arena. These are fictional representations of the warrior archetype embodied by a character.




The warrior in day-to-day life


‘But how does this help me?’ I hear you say. ‘I don’t have to protect hobbits or fight people in an arena.’ Good point.

However, in real life we still face challenges all the time which we need to overcome. These may take the form of a challenging job, difficult people, and one’s own bad habits. Rather than overcoming this with a sword or a bow, you can think about the sword and bow as metaphors for assertiveness and discipline.


Integrating the warrior in your character


Consider the following practices as ways of making the warrior more present in your character, of sharpening your sword or stringing your bow, following the metaphor above.


1. Develop your assertiveness


a. The warrior may be acted out through assertiveness. Being assertive involves making sure that you and others are fairly treated. This requires being aware of one’s own needs, acknowledging situations where these may not be met, and taking action to make sure they are. This can be particularly useful in work environments but also in other social contexts. If you want to develop your assertiveness, I have referred to a good book about how to do this below.


b. Assertiveness is not tyranny. Some confuse assertiveness with being demanding or even tyrannical. However, these are not wanted traits in the warrior. Think rather of ensuring fairness rather than fighting for personal gain at the expense of others’ needs.


2. Practice discipline


a. I know this is easier said than done however, most people can find an area in their life where they can introduce a bit more discipline. As with everything, you must start somewhere, whether it is by getting up at a set time in the morning or completing a set amount of work within a certain time. The key is to challenge oneself to an extent that one can overcome. This leads to growth in confidence and courage, which in turn enables the warrior to take on harder challenges.


b. One might also want to consider practicing an activity that naturally includes discipline. This includes for example most sports. Discipline is also a central part of many martial arts, such as Karate, Kung Fu, and fencing. Such activities can lead to an increased sense of discipline in you that you can use to enhance other areas of your life.




The Bottom Line


Getting in touch with the warrior archetype is not just about developing physical strength, it is about developing a courageous mindset. Integrating the qualities of the warrior in our character can be helpful to us in our daily lives where we face challenges that we need to overcome. It can help us work more effectively toward our goals, standing up for ourselves and others, and to have a positive impact on the world around us.

If you want to learn more about this topic, I strongly recommend Carol S. Pearson’s book ‘Awakening the Heroes Within.’ For learning about assertiveness, I recommend ‘Not Nice’ by Aziz Gazipura.

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Dr Erlend Slettevold

Dr Erlend Slettevold is a Clinical Psychologist at The Oak Tree Practice. His qualifications include Psychology BSc, Psychology MSd and a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology.