Live a life of authenticity by making conscious choices and taking action.
“Ahhh you blew it!” After the presentation to a high-ranking audience, you walk back to our office and in your mind, you hear the voice continue: “There was no standing ovation… you were not even close to being as good/ interesting or inspiring as the person before you… you should never have volunteered for this opportunity, it’s clearly way beyond your capability. When will you ever get things right?!?”
Have you got a voice in your head like that? We all do, and if you give yours free reign, it is likely to stunt your growth and ensure that you never reach the potential you are so capable of.
Turn your saboteur into a co-creator.
Being conscious is your only way to break the spiral. When you become aware of feeling low, take note of what you are saying to yourself. Become conscious of your Saboteur archetype. It will give you the opportunity to break free from that cycle.
- It’s unrealistic: Like the example above its expectations are way beyond what is a realistic outcome. Should you get a standing ovation for everything you do?
- It is vague: Constructive criticism is specific and balanced. It highlights what went well and is specific to what can be done differently.
- It’s a spiral: The voice starts by criticising what just happened and quickly spirals to the big black hole that is all. Instantly everything seems wrong.
- It’s carries no love or kindness and leads to low energy – with no recognition of the context, the voice has no empathy and can lead to feelings of anxiety and depression. In some cases the voice will immobilize you. You feel as if there is nowhere to go. Neither forward nor backwards, you’re stuck.
- When you listen to the voice – it might sound like or use the words of parent or teacher. Or maybe it sounds like you? Isn’t it strange that we are often (if not always) far more critical of ourselves than of anyone else? Will you ever say these things, this stream of unrelenting critism and disapproval, to your best friend?
Why the voice is there
Carl Jung fathered the concept of archetypes in 1919 and Caroline Myss made it simple to work with archetypes to guide you to your purpose in life through her book “Sacred Contracts”. For me archetypes are like core stories that we live, patterns that we repeat throughout our lives. There are a variety, covering all aspects of living like Rebel, Hermit, Clown, Healer and many more and each of them are neutral. Inherently these patterns are neither good or bad, but they all have a shadow and light side. Whether we live the shadow or light version, is up to us.
According to Myss there are four survival archetypes that we all have. The Saboteur is one of them and is focussed on fear, keeping you small and safe. Primarily there to protect you from harm, an unconscious and shadow saboteur will lead to self-destructive behaviour where you undermine your own efforts and let fear stop you from achieving your goals. One of the ways the saboteur shows up is in your inner voice.
Deepak Chopra notes that conscious work with the saboteur leads to self-love and discerning truth, the light side of this archetype. Co-creating with your saboteur means you listen to the warnings and consciously choose whether they should be ignored or considered.
There is enormous value to be gained from engaging with your saboteur. Apart from the obvious benefit of finding the best way to move forward, listening to BOTH sides of the story guide you in taking confident, well calculated and authentic steps towards your future.
- Become conscious that you are gliding down the spiral and create time to gather your thoughts.
- Use (real) paper and coloured pens / pencils and write down what the inner voice is telling you, word for word, with your dominant hand.
- Read the thoughts out loud to yourself. How does it make you feel?
- Now take your pen in the other (non-dominant) hand and allow the other side of you to respond. Try not to think too much about your answers and don’t worry about spelling or what the letters look like, just write!
- Now read the responses to yourself.
What have you discovered?
When I did this exercise recently, it felt like it was a younger version of myself responding to the critic. I was surprised about the answers that flowed onto the page – it had a lot more insight, wisdom and depth than the critic. It gave me the courage to carry on and do what I felt I needed to do.
The saboteur needs to be with you throughout your life as it’s primary role is to protect you. So, this is not a once off process. Use this process to stop the spiral down into black generalities, low or immobilised energy and empower yourself with insightful and loving guidance.
Stop, listen and answer back. Then take action.
Life is beautifully complex and intertwined. Often our best experience of life happens when we are open, comfortable, being our authentic selves and making conscious choices to drive us forward.
“Coaching helps you find your authentic voice”.
If you’re looking to use your saboteur as co-creator to empower your choices and would like some guidance, feel free to reach out to me.