The First Archetype: The Child

This is the first part of a series of twelve. I’ve decided to use archetypes as a way to talk to my previous self/ves, as explained here. Once I’ve given each of my twelve archetypes an introduction, we’ll start exchanging letters again.

Signature - Cookie Monster age 11


  • Inner Child
  • Cookie Monster


  • One of the four universal survival archetypes (child, sellout, saboteur, victim)

Typical thoughts, feelings, & behaviors


  • Playful, childish, innocent
  • Finding wonder in the world
  • Feeling excited about nothing
  • Looking for the best in people
  • Pursuing adventures
  • Lonely and bored when not around people
  • Insecure when doing adult things without supervision or approval
  • Insecure about making own decisions
  • Feel like the black sheep in the family
  • Feel abandoned and misunderstood by family
  • Seeking out a surrogate family in friends and adults
  • Sense of possibility and optimism
  • Getting lost in fantasy
  • Wanting to stay young, worried about getting older
  • Forgetting what age I am, thinking I’m younger than I actually am
  • Feeling empty, trying to fill up the emptiness from childhood (like with bingeing)
  • Mischievous and stubborn
  • Giggly
  • Short attention span

What personal characteristics led me to choose this archetype?

  • Self-doubt to take on adult responsibilities, feel inadequate like I need a proper adult to help me (managing finances, taxes, signing legal contracts, work issues)
  • Feeling amazed when people my age or younger do adult things with their lives – Aren’t we all still supposed to be kids?
  • Feel uncertain in adult relationships. Relationships end up one-sided with me being taken care of or taught how to be an adult
  • I’m uneasy around authority and always do what I’m told
  • I feel nervous making major life decisions without consulting my parents or another adult
  • When I binge-eat, I tend to eat kid’s food or food from my childhood (candy, ice cream, cookies, etc.)
  • Desire to help other people heal their childhood wounds (through this blog, contemplating becoming a social worker)

What events reflect this archetype during my life?

“Drunk Me”: Kid in a Candy Store (Dear Cookie Monster)

  • Binge-eating as a kid on cookies and junk food, which my parents forbid
  • Continuing to binge eat as an adult (as recent as Sunday)
  • Alternating between childishly rebelling against my parents (rebelling just for the sake of rebelling) and being unwaveringly obedient
  • Being criticized growing up for not fitting in with family ideals (poor marks in grammar school, pursing childish dreams, always reading fiction)
  • Constantly worrying about parental approval even as an adult
  • Fantasizing about running away from home, which led to me going to a boarding school at 16, college 3,000 miles away at 18, and moving half-way around the world last August at 25
  • Resisting recovery from my eating disorder because staying sick meant I could keep getting care
  • It’s become more problematic as I’ve gotten older since it undermines my ability to be a functioning adult.

What role or function has this archetype played for me? (Ex: filling needs, bringing security, etc)

  • This has kept me safe and secure. I am still able to get help from my parents because I have never really left the nest. I live on the other side of the world, but with my ups and downs I’ve needed to ask them for assistance.
  • This has kept me from failure. Because I’ve never truly spread my wings as an adult, I haven’t failed at anything I’ve tried to do.

Which prominent people have interacted with the aspect of my nature supported by this archetype? (Think of people who have played important roles or inspired you)

  • My parents
  • People I met in treatment who were adults but still highly dependent upon parents since they struggled caring for and supporting themselves
  • Children I work with now – I find myself comparing my own childhood to theirs and feeling empty

What myths, fairy tales, or spiritual stories that have meaning for me do I associate with this archetype?


  • Peter Pan – not wanting to grow up
  • The Secret Garden – finding escape from family
  • Harry Potter – feeling like black sheep, dreaming about leaving, Hogwarts becoming new home, I cried all day on my 11th birthday when my Hogwarts letter didn’t come
  • Anne Frank – still thinking humanity is good despite the things I’ve seen

Does thinking of this archetype make me feel empowered or disempowered? How has it affected my spirituality?

  • I feel disempowered. I want to become a healthy functioning adult, but I’m riddled with self-doubt and insecurities.
  • I don’t feel able to take care of myself
  • My energy drains into my insecurity and anxiety
  • I’m not as playful and free as I naturally am

Has it caused me to block or forgo change that needs to happen? (Ex: forgiveness, can’t let go of the past)

  • This blocks my ability to become a functioning adult
  • I feel insecure in adult relationships
  • I lack confidence to manage adult things (finances, taxes, etc)
  • I still blame my parents a bit for how my dysfunctional upbringing still impacts me today (body shame and dieting laying the foundation for an eating disorder, using criticism and shame to direct me, overprotection leading to insecurity and dependence, letting my brother degrade my self-esteem)

What immediate guidance might this archetype have to offer me in the present moment?

  • Be more innocent, playful, adventurous
  • People are fun to go on adventures with
  • I am a creative, awesome, daring person who is unstoppable
  • “Genius is childhood recaptured” – Baudelaire

My sources:

Carolyn Myss – Appendix: A Gallery of Archetypes

Candess M. Campbell – The Child Archetype




4 thoughts on “The First Archetype: The Child

  1. braddahr says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I’m so sorry you felt abandoned and without love and belonging but “I am a creative, awesome, daring person who is unstoppable” is so hopeful and inspiring.


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