A few days ago I wrote an article on the archetypal energy of the Saboteur, that resulted in many questions, in particular how to deal with it.
The Saboteur is an energy that makes us act against our best interest. Each New Year’s resolution invokes the Saboteur, and it is that, which makes us eat junk-food, smoke, skip exercise or stay in a bad relationship.
The energy of the Saboteur is related to issues of survival and getting to know these patterns may point to underlying fears that are connected to deep and unconscious conditioning. We all have the Saboteur, so learning to deal with this energy is vital for change.
Change – that is the key word. The core issue for the Saboteur is inviting change into our lives. At this point I remember a friend of mine, who wished for nothing more than a foreign assignment – and at the day this wish was granted, she decided against it. That is the Saboteur in action.
When I asked her what made her withdraw her application, she said she did not want to leave friends and family. This is an understandable notion, and yet – it is pointing out clearly the core issue: self-esteem
Something in us knows we can be whatever we want to be – and yet, there is also something in us that is telling us ” you can’t”. The reason is not so much real obstacles, but much rather the lack of the two c’s – courage and confidence.
The reason to go with the energy of the Saboteur is fear of the unknown. We are comfortable with the status quo, with our set patterns and behaviours. We may wish for something else, but we are not so sure if we want to be it.
Take the example of my friend, who is a highly talented and capable individual. She could dream of a career abroad, but when the opportunity came along , she said “NO”, because she knew that the choice to take an assignment in a foreign country would change her forever. She did not trust herself to “be”, what she had always wanted for herself.
This is the main issue – often we simply do not wish to be, what we ostensibly desire to become. I am often working with people who come to me with unhealthy eating-habits and weight issues, and I see it right there – they so desire to lose that weight, but they sabotage themselves, because they know exactly that being slim would change them in many ways and expose them to situations, they are secretly afraid of. So it’s back to over-eating and succumbing to the Saboteur.
To deal with the Saboteur has two modalities. One is getting to know that energy of self-sabotaging, whether it may be food, addictions, relationships, work etc. It means to muster the courage to clearly delineate, when we are working against our own interest – and why. Behind each decision to follow the voice of the Saboteur, stands a fear of change. What is that fear and what does it seek to protect ?
In the example of my friend, it protected her fear of living on her own, without the support of friends and family in her immediate environment. She had a vision of herself, experiencing a new life, developing some new skills and discovering herself, outside of her old environment, but her – irrational – fear of being alone and vulnerable in a foreign country, made her to decide against an opportunity that would have created the basis for a major development.
The other is getting comfortable to embrace change. For the Saboteur the energy of change is like death because his intention is the status quo – even if it is dull, cumbersome and unsatisfying. It is like we are split – there is one energy in us that wants the change – and another that holds on. It is vitally important to explore these energies and to understand that the Saboteur has one major driving force: comfort.
When I am working with people who are willing to change but are facing the Saboteur, I ask them what in their current situation – they want to change- actually works for them. And this is how we normally find what keeps people in their own misery – a fear that they may bite off more than they can chew, getting challenged, being embarrassed or – god forbid – even fail.
The Saboteur can be silenced by simple acts of courage and following one’s intuition. I have made far-reaching choices in my life based on an instinct, and I know the feeling of empowerment and excitement that goes along with it. And I have been in the grip of the Saboteur for many, many much smaller choices, and I know the sense of frustration and defeat that goes along with it.
So it takes some patience and observation – and it takes some determined choices. It may be small, but conscious choices in the beginning – like choosing to eat more organic food, taking walks, or drink more water. And then observe what happens – small choices that do not even take that much discipline or energy, contain a momentum that may be life-changing.
Nothing ever dies. It just transforms into something else.
One of the comments that you made above so resonates with my observations. It is the small choices or decisions that always present the most difficult energy to overcome. The larger ones seem to garner a resolute well of empowerment that makes them easier to push through. HMMMM, going to contemplate that recognition for a while. Any thoughts?
I think the key operative here is “entitlement”. Small acts of self-sabotage (like food, drugs, spending money, indulgence etc) can be masked as reward and this is why the habit is so hard to break. I keep thinking of the seven vices – lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, pride, envy, wrath – emotional energies that carry the hallmark of the Saboteur and make it difficult to stay clear-headed about the small choices that lead to self-sabotage.
Maybe a way to put it is that we are empty and want to be filled. We think the answer lies outside of us. We go get something that alters our physical state for a time but doesn’t fill up the emptiness, just distracts from it for a moment. Once we see that the emptiness is a mind game and at our core we are complete, whole, and brimming with the fullness of life, we can be more aware of this saboteur (our unconscious conditioning) and see and, most importantly, feel that it is wanting to play out our unhappy story over and over because, yes, we really don’t understand who we really are. Once we see it for what it is we can choose to indulge occasionally in pleasurable activities without it becoming an overwhelming compulsion we cannot seem to control.
I find a good question to ask when feeling those pulls toward my unhealthy desires (like chocolate) is to ask myself, “What are you really hungry for?”
It’s ok to enjoy certain things but when I feel that ‘gotta have it’ feeling I know something else is going on.
Thanks for this.
Yes, thats always the impulse. Not feeling “enough” – empty, as you say. And if we ask the question you suggest – it will point us in the right direction.
Compulsion is an egoic automatism, but we can use the saboteur to point us to the deeper conditionings we do not know are there. In many ways, the saboteur is our friend, if we observe this energy to sabotage the ego.