If you are a Caregiver, your biggest challenge may be to resist the temptation to care for everyone and everything except yourself. And if Caregiver is your primary archetype, resisting this temptation can be as natural as not blinking. For the heart-centered Caregiver, just hearing that another is in need brings on a knee jerk reaction to spring into action. If you happen to live asking yourself, “What can I do to help that person?” or “How can I be of service?” you are a real Caregiver. But the real answer to your questions is found at home. As with all of us, you must first find it within yourself.

So welcome to my Alphabet of Archetypes, and to our third letter. The Caregiver falls into the caring family of archetypes. If you’ve already read the chapter on Caregivers in Caroline Myss’s latest best-selling book, Archetypes Who Am I?, you may have discovered that you are exactly where you are supposed to be. You are a nurturer, a mother, a father, a lover, a sister, a teacher, a doctor, or a rescuer. You cook, clean, care, heal, coach, mentor, agent and assist, to name a very few. You may be one of the many doctors who cross borders around the globe to save the lives of those who desperately need your medical attention. You may be a civil servant who heroically serves your community. Exploring this archetype deeper in Archepedia, you may feel your first full breath of recognition, that “Yes! That’s me!” In your bones. Your greatest reward is, always has been, and always will be: being of service.

If only your journey did not include a devotion to the myth that if you don’t care first for the needs of others, you are being selfish. That you are not entitled and mandated by your own clear-sailing conscience to take care of your own needs. These notions create a balancing act you must learn, a tightwire you must navigate. One misstep and you fall back into confusing “selfless” with having no Self.

This is why you, a Caregiver, often feel you have no saftety net, why you get a bad rap outside the understanding and language of archetypes. A born nurturer, you find your identity obscured by a portrait of a codependent busybody. Meanwhile, the complex, compassionate Caregivers has won the love of everyone who may need and want compassion and nurturing. And who, at so many times in this life, on this planet, does not need this?

Fact is, as His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, said, “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. But if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” Fact is, none of us can help but care for others in our daily lives. Regardless of our personal archetypes, whether we are aware of it or not, that’s what is going on, all the time. Don’t you love it?

With grace and gratitude,

Cristina Carlino is the founder of Archetypes, Inc. Each week she reveals a new letter of the Alphabet of ArchetypesStop back often to discover aspects of yourself you didn’t know existed!