Cultivating a Healthy Rebel (Archetype)
It is the season of the Rebel!
In America, we are well acquainted with this energy. We were founded on it. The first immigrant settlers were Rebels who were fleeing religious persecution. British colonists revolted against taxation and other heavy handled practices of the British aristocracy to create this country. Freedom and land seeking Rebels settled the American frontier. The South seceded from the Union to protect state’s rights. Abolitionists fought to end slavery. Citizens stood together to demand equal rights for women and people of color.
So we have benefitted from the transformational energy of the Rebel. And yet, many of us still don’t have a very healthy relationship with it in our personal lives. So let’s explore what the Rebel archetype is all about.
What is the Rebel?
The Rebel is also known as the maverick, outlaw, outsider, reformer, provocateur, free spirit, revolutionary, iconoclast, destroyer, wild man, and trouble maker. He believes that rules are meant to be broken and will disrupt, destroy, or shock to overturn what isn’t working.
Some characteristics of the Rebel are risk taking, outspokenness, independence, unconventional, creative, bold, uncensored, hard to get to know, misunderstood, and doesn’t easily trust others.
While most of us love routine and order, the Rebel is fearless enough to move into discomfort to achieve something he believes is better. It’s not comfortable, but it is part of the natural order. Everything moves from Order to Chaos. The Rebel keeps the wheel of life turning. Without the Rebel, there is no death and rebirth, no evolution.
Other examples of this are the season of fall, the zodiac sign of Scorpio, and the god(desses) Kali, Sekhmet, Nergal, and Batara Kala. Examples of humans with a strong Rebel archetype are/were: Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Martin Luther (Protestant reformer), Gandhi, Marie Curie, Pink, Miley Cyrus, Sid Vicious, and the signers of the Declaration of Independence.
The Many Faces of the Rebel
The Rebel can show up as a complete destroyer or simply a nonconformist. Here are some examples to help you spot the Rebel in you.
Ideas Rebel – this person creates change with ideas. She creates innovative products, policy changes, or social structures that change the way we do things. She may not be intent on creating social changes, but succeeds nonetheless. Apple and Virgin are examples of companies that are ideas Rebels.
Agitator Rebel – this Rebel rocks the boat to expose hypocrisy, unfairness, lack of integrity, illegal activity, and other things that don’t jive with his sense of morality or sense of fair play. This could be on the social, business, personal, spiritual or political levels.
Free spirit Rebel – this Rebel isn’t particularly concerned with changing others. Her main focus is simply being authentic to herself. She can come across as uncaring and selfish as she doesn’t conform to social mores.
Misfit Rebel – like the free spirit Rebel, this person is eccentric and values authenticity highly. Unlike the free spirit, this Rebel may deeply long for belonging, but finds it hard to interact with others because he sees himself as so different.
The Shadow Rebel
When the Rebel is healthy, she shows us how to be free and stand up to oppression. She’s courageous, brave, and innovative. She goes beyond change and facilitates transformation of out dated products, strategies, relationships, and ways of being.
When the Rebel archetype is in Shadow she doesn’t know where to draw the line and stop fighting. The Rebel can push the boundaries too far and stray into criminal behavior. He can use his discontent for revenge, personal gain, thrill seeking, or to act out with no reason at all. Shadow Rebels are great at being angry and pushing boundaries, but they aren’t great at living within boundaries, restraining their passion, pulling for something (rather than resisting against something), or fitting in despite the desire to belong.
To move to a healthier place, Shadow Rebels need to:
- cultivate healthy boundaries
- learn what they stand for as well as what they are against.
- learn to pick their battles. Some things just aren’t worth confronting.
- see the big picture. What are the long term and big picture consequences of their actions? What will their rebellion cost? What is the goal?
- create and live within structure. It doesn’t have to be as rigid as what most live under; however, structure forms the foundation of stability.
- attain humility. An unbalanced ego can lead a Rebel into very dangerous territory. And she may take others with her.
- know who she is aside from rebellion. We can’t relate to others in a meaningful way if we are constantly provoking them. It’s not pleasant and they will desert us.
Unfortunately, Rebels can end up heroes, but they don’t tend to be good diplomats and leaders. They don’t do well with creating or maintaining peace. So it’s important to know when to end the rebellion and call on different energies to create rebirth.