It's happening. Just when you think you've resolved that old sticky problem, it comes back around to bite you. Just when you think you have kicked that habit, let go of that ex, or finally figured out how to get through to your kids/boss/annoying neighbours, things start unravelling at the seams. As Winter creeps up on us and darkness settles in, the inner saboteur has come out to play. If you feel like just when you figured it all out, things started to fall apart, then this message is for you: don't lose hope! The saboteur, like any part of us, serves a function. It appears when we are about to make a big mind-shift or life change, and it challenges us in deep, direct, and impactful ways. Read on to learn more about the saboteur, and how to get it under control before your life really does come unravelled.
1. Name It
Sometimes, just naming it stops the saboteur in it's tracks. Instead of letting all those thoughts pile up on themselves making you feel worse and worse, you can simply remember that the saboteur exists and will wait until you are right near the top of the mountain before jumping out to push you all the way down to the bottom. The saboteur is able to re-direct your thoughts when you are oblivious to its presence. When you name it for what it is, it puts you back in the driver's seat, and then other parts of your mind (the Solution-Finder, the Optimist, the Entrepreneur) get to test out tother theories about who you are and what you can and cannot achieve.
2. Befriend It
The saboteur is our subconscious mind's gift to us. I know, it usually doesn't feel like a gift, but the bright side of the saboteur is it keeps us from falling on our face by pointing out obstacles in advance. However, if we let the saboteur take over, then all we notice is the flaws in our life plan rather than what actually is working. And if anything does happen to be working, the saboteur will find a way to break it, simply because that is the saboteur's job description! If you befriend the saboteur, and actually give it a job to do it will serve you well. Ask simple, direct questions to yourself, such as Did I miss anything here? Could this go wrong somehow? or What are the risks? and the saboteur will have lots of answers for you. Just be careful to keep things in balance so you are weighing other perspectives as well.
3. Distract Yourself
Instead of letting your mind run away with everything that is going wrong, try to put your energy and attention in talking about what is working well in your life. How do you do this without bragging? Simple answer: be grateful. Once you start really giving thanks for all you have, the saboteur realizes that some things are here for good and you are not willing to wreck them, no matter how many tricks your own mind tries to play on you. Distract yourself with all the good things you have and find ways to make them grow. The saboteur will eventually get bored and leave you alone.
4. Get Help
Never underestimate the power of a good friend. You can recruit someone you know to give you a gentle reminder when they think you are self-sabotaging. THis way, you stay accountable, and get a reality check when you need it the most. Make sure this person will remind you in a caring way, rather then someone who will just say "I told you so", as negativity is like food to the saboteur. If you don't have someone in your immediate circle you can go to for help, join a personal development group, attend a workshop or two, or begin surrounding yourself with more people who are on this path. Remember, you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, and if they tend to criticize and judge, you will do the same.
For more details on the Saboteur archetype, pick up Chuck Spezzano's The Archetypes and Shadows card deck or for a more in-depth understanding, Carolyn Myss's Sacred Contracts. If you can master this one, life becomes effortless!