Symbolism and Synchronicity
The Use of Symbols in Goal Setting
By Silvia "MoonCoach" Pancaro
Most people have goals in life. We dream and then we work on those
dreams with rigorous action and great passion in order to convert
them into reality. Sometimes, not often, we fall short of achieving them.
The reasons for this are many, including not having considered if the goals
were are in alignment with our life purpose, they may have been ill-timed
or we may have unconscious blocks to success. However, I would like for
you to focus your attention on the positive. On that note, my main point
is on using symbolism and archetypes in making personal goal-setting
more effective, as well as life-affirming.
I believe that it's important to include sensory stimulants (right brain)
to the verbal outline and language (right brain) of our goal-setting.
As human beings, we learn through our physical senses.
In neurolinguistic programming (NLP), the practitioner utilizes the senses.
The learning types are visual, auditory, kinesthetic, gustatory and olfactory
within the “representational systems” (NLP info 2003).
The next factor I will introduce is that modern psychology works with the conscious mind (will & focus) and subconscious mind (memory & habit). We complete the learning process through grounding the lessons into our personal reality, by integrating them emotionally.
What I like to offer here is the idea of using sensory aids, as symbols. This combination of NLP types, subconscious library of symbolism, and the emotions, can be used proactively and creatively in supporting our lifelong plans. When outlining our personal goals, we can add a symbol we feel adequately represents each goal. This way, we become emotionally involved with the goal, as opposed to it being simply a linear, time-based “to do” item. We are more apt to feel a sense of personal fulfillment using the right brain functions with pictures, sounds, etc., pulled from our own vast internal library of personal archetypes and based on our own life experiences.
The use of symbols (in their various sense-based formats) has been a part of our human experience since the beginning of time in all cultures. What is math? What is language? What is science? What are these concrete linear subjects if not symbols themselves representing everyday pieces of our experiences within the realm with the abstract? Our sciences and our religions all use symbols to represent concepts and ideas. Marketing techniques and the media all use symbolism to tap into the psyche of the masses. And even when we are away from all external stimuli, we are visited by our own personal symbols in our nightly dreams. So rich with meaning are these dreams that the greatest of psychologists, Carl Jung, delved into them creating a whole new reality within the field of modern psychology, which he named “archetypes.” These archetypes are “primordial images in the collective unconscious, which are the most ancient and universal thought forms of humanity." (George 1997).
The choices of the symbols we can work with come from a myriad of sources! Searching anywhere from mythology to religion to psychology to actual figures within politics, music, sports or any other field, one can easily feel the subconscious pull toward the right one. “Symbols are captivating pictorial statements. They are indistinct, metaphoric and enigmatic portrayals of psychic reality. The content, i.e., the meaning of symbols, is far from obvious; instead, it is expressed in unique and individual terms while at the same time partaking of a universal imagery. Worked upon (that is reflected upon and related to), they can be recognized as aspects of those images that control, order and give meaning to our lives. Their source, therefore, can be traced to the archetypes themselves which by way of symbols find more full expression." (Gianrose, 1986)
Two practically apply an archetype, one must first decide on the goal. Using myself as an example in the effective use of this method, I will now share my own personal experience of how I accomplished one major life goal. Many years ago, I had the long-term goal of becoming a facilitator. I dreamt of teaching and leading others within group settings, both in workshops as well as classroom situations. I’ve always had a passion for personal growth and I’ve always believed that in becoming the best possible person we choose to become, we can powerfully affect the greater whole. I wanted to inspire others as much as I have been inspired on my journey by my own heroes/heroines. However, in taking into account the developmental stage I was at when I began, I recognized that my natural disposition had been mainly that of being shy and withdrawn. Due to the nature of my goal, I had to make a decision to develop a more outspoken and direct persona, presenting a more dynamic demeanor. In working with symbols and archetypes, I chose ones consistent with my primary NLP type, being visual. So, the images I worked with visually evoked an emotion of courage and passion. These are energies already existing subconsciously within my being, albeit not fully outwardly expressed at the time. Since I already experienced these energies internally in the past, I easily related to certain representations of them. In my case, I choose to work with Tarot symbolism, ancient mythological figures, and astrological archetypes.
In the example of applying symbols to my lifelong dream of teaching, I chose various symbols applied to each smaller goal or step toward the larger vision of facilitation. I chose Mars, which is a planet of action in astrology, for the all-important step of overcoming my shyness and becoming more dynamic. Mars represents vitality, forward movement, passion, willpower and independence. Mars is pure energy! Mythologically, Mars is also the Roman god of aggression, competition, vitality, war and action. To do battle, he had to be courageous and brave. He was also a lover (of the goddess of love Venus), and the quintessential archetype of the male energy force. His symbol is: g. Interestingly, it is also the symbol for the masculine gender. So in astrology, we consider the Martian archetype to be of male quality, energizing, motivating, powerful, when expressing in positive, life-affirming ways. “Martian energy can bolster your self-confidence, prompting you to take action, be decisive, assert yourself, and face up to fears. Tap into this planetary force when you need extra vitality or courage." (Alexander 2000). How I have personally experienced this energy, is as having passion for what I do and certainly I am motivated by the emotional feeling of that passion! What I needed was to evoke the emotion in my life by connecting inwardly with the archetype of Mars. Having made that connection, I focused my attention (conscious mind) upon the outer expression and development of those self-same qualities. This resulted in feeling a sense of “realism” in my short term goal. This inner feeling consequently spurred me to outwardly accomplish my overall vision by courageously presenting mini-lectures on the planet Jupiter and the constellation of Ophiuchus, and signing up as a facilitator-in-training for a national organization, and other dynamic speaking situations.
Since we all have different senses we work primarily with, the “type” of symbol will vary. An auditory-type person would benefit from playing music that gives meaning and a real life quality to his or her goal. How often have we not closed our eyes to delve into our internal world, upon hearing a special song? Another person who may be kinesthetic in approach may choose to have a special object on his or her desk. He/she can then hold it to connect with the goal’s essence. For example, on my desk, I have a ceramic wishing well with a sign that reads, “Dreams come true.” This acts as both visual and kinesthetic symbols of my desire to write about ideals.
This method works because the archetypal representations are what focus the mind on the emotional energy which supplies the will of the individual to move forward toward the goal achievement. The great master teacher, Yogananda, said: “Anything that you do with conscious attention, your subconscious mind saves in a blueprint in your brain. Create the pattern of success in your subconscious mind and make it work for you." This application invites us to unite both left and right brain functions, in complementary fashion. By extension, we are putting our mind to work with our hearts, which properly balanced creates a healthier, well-rounded individual. This uniting of the brains, or ‘marriage’ of the mind and heart, also gives more meaning to the achievement of our personal goals. Though intellectual knowledge is a wonderful achievement, it is the feeling of joy within the heart that satisfies the true longing of the vision or goal, chosen conscientiously prior to beginning the process. The Dalai lama said, “In order to practice the application of joyful effort successfully, one must have the ability to concentrate, to focus on events, actions or goals. That in turn depends on whether or not you have the ability to exercise your power of judgment, to judge between what is desirable and what is undesirable, what is negative and what is positive."
It is human nature to live in one extreme or the other, between absolute mentalism or absolute spiritualism. But it is the goal of human evolution to bring a balanced expression of both into every day life. So, this can all be viewed from either a purely scientific perspective, or from pure spiritual innocence. Either way, the conclusion in how we view this application of practical symbolism is the same: it works! And in the end, are not science and spirituality of the goals of one another? Can one not conclude that science is the pursuit of proving what is as yet unseen (spiritual) while true spirituality is the pursuit of bringing itself into the experience of physical form (science)? And are these both not symbols themselves or perhaps symbolized by, the theory of left and brought right brain functions, or even conscious and unconscious minds? Science and spirit will eternally be interchangeable symbols for one another. This method requires both, working in tandem.
Two great humans who are proponents of both science and spirit as working hand in hand, or Albert Einstein and Carl Jung. Both individuals gave the human race and valuable gifts, which we continue to use and develop today. Both Einstein and Jung used symbolism, archetypes and alternative methods of working with consciousness, applying all in ways that greatly supported our sciences of mathematics, physics, psychology, etc. According to Young, quotation marks signs comes to a stop at the frontiers of logic, but nature does not -- she thrives on ground as yet untrodden by theory." Tatian Fiona 1997 you'll establish new forms of psychological processes wherein he worked with folktales and mythological figures, calling them quotation marks the eternal patterns in our soul" Tatian you in the 1992. With these he developed the idea of the collective unconscious. I believe this is where the ageless archetypes to well awaiting conscious recognition and the decision to be put to use in transformational ways. He brought up with the archetypal symbols from the unconscious mind, into the conscious mind in order to more effectively deal with the life process.
Albert Einstein, one of our greatest minds, believed that quotation marks in imagination is more important than knowledge." Tatian an absolute genius by all standards, Einstein regularly visited the cosmic planes were symbol stands and fly, and within those rounds each discovered great answers to scientific and mathematical questions. (In logic alone, did not suffice in accomplishing what he did, but only in combining it with right brain imagination, did he solve these most complicated riddles. By his own admittance, quotation marks when I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge." Tatian Corp. 2000.
Through the ages, humans have searched for ways in which they could succeed in their life goals. We have had all sorts of heroes and heroines who have worked through manger obstacles within themselves, within society and the larger scope of the collective mental mindset in which they lived. Many valuable practices have come about, from hypnosis to astrology to visualization techniques to psychoanalysis to personal coaching. All work to one extent or another in working through the obstacles, strengthening our inner natures and manifesting our goals. However, all these methods have symbolism at their core. All of these methods work with the human mind and the human heart in varying degrees. All these methods combine science with spiritual practice to one extent or another. Which is best? Which guarantees the success of your goal? I believe that your own higher intuitive intelligence will attract to you the proper method, but keep in mind, you'll always be working with the archetypes of most closely aligned with your hearts true goal! I will mention one final benefit of working on accomplishing each goal with the assistance of the symbols. The level of self confidence reaches new heights with each success on the smaller goals. As the press as the process a successfully develops toward the main life goal, the journey itself becomes an unfolding revelation of one's personal archetypes. It becomes a story woven by the emotion, the intellectual goal making and the symbols themselves within the lifespan of the individual. The sense of accomplishment as a result of the process of self-knowledge and discovery as one complete each major goal. I would say, we will have written our own personal myth, resulting from the experience itself. I would personally conclude that goal setting and its subsequent achievement, arrived at by this process, is having the heart of the scientists and the mind of the spiritual master.
I'll leave you with this closing thought, a great quote from Tatian Redfield (1997):
"When we have an intuition, a mental image of a possible future, we are actually getting flashes of memory from our birth vision. The intuitions we have, the dreams and coincidences, they are all designed to keep us on the right path, to bring back our memory of how we wanted our lives to unfold."