If you have never heard of archetypes, this is one of them. You can do the research yourself about them, I’d start with Carolyn Myss, as she wrote a whole book on them.
The Saboteur, in short, is one of the survival archetypes. We will literally sabotage a career, relationship and the things we say we want most in this world, if we have this archetype. And why would we do that you ask? Because we can’t help it. We have been conditioned by our subconscious mind to steer clear of anything it perceives as a threat to our wellbeing.
The subconscious mind is so powerful, it has been given the task of protecting you from any situation or person that remotely reminds you of a past experience that left you feeling abandoned, rejected, disregarded, unloved, unwanted, disliked, undervalued, shunned, unwelcome, spurned, outcast…the list goes on. Your subconscious mind has memorized all of your comfort zones and it will do everything it can to keep you in them, no matter how different the situation or person is, in front of you.
Even if you meet someone new or are offered a job that looks promising and gets you all excited, the very reason that it is new, will make your subconscious feel threatened. You might try and take steps towards that which is calling you, but BOOM! You will shut down. Your subconscious will take over and say, “We’ve got this! No need to worry yourself. Just sit back and do nothing and we will all be safe.”
You might try to bypass the subconscious, but she takes her job very seriously. She will literally make you feel uncomfortable in your own body if you attempt to do anything new or different. For example, you might agree to audition for a movie that shoots in LA and then when you get the script you find things wrong with it. Things like…the location, the lines, the people, the weather, the paper, etc….Everything will be wrong even if there isn’t anything, but you’ll find it.
You’ll feel a pit in your stomach the size of a city at the mere thought of doing this project. You might start to hyperventilate. Then you get mad at yourself. “How could you have agreed to this?” You can’t sleep because every thought is about that project. So you wake up the next day, call your agent and make up one of a hundred excuses you have in that little excuse book of yours called, “Self Sabotage 101” and you hang up the phone. You feel instant relief and tell yourself, “Never again!” And feel as though you dodged a bullet.
But then a few days go by and someone close to you asks “What do you really want?” You look at them confused. “You know what I want! I want to be in a movie, on a show.” “Then why do you keep turning down things?” And that’s when you realize your 15 year old is far more insightful then you are.
This was during quarantining; I mean, what else is there to do but drink and think about how messed up your life is? So I started thinking about mine.
From the mouth of babes! It got me thinking though. Why was I turning down the exact thing that I said I wanted? And then it hit me. For years I have had agents. Most people can’t get one. I’ve helped several; even waiters at random restaurants I eat at. It’s like the crowning jewel to them, and there I was with an entire crown!
Always happy to have the agent, happy to get the audition, but then when I am on the cusp of booking a job, panic sets in. My heart palpitates, my hands sweat (well, they always do that, just a little more profusely) and I sleep like shit thinking about the job. How pathetic is that?
I have sabotaged myself from some pretty amazing opportunities. Just Monday I did it again. Had a callback for a huge job and my computer froze. Did I do it? Perhaps. Maybe not. Who knows! All I know is, the client was there, the casting director was there and a few more random people, but Gretchen… she wasn’t there! I mean come on! Let’s think about this metaphorically. The computer froze. Or did I?
This happens to all of us who are letting the saboteur run front and center in our lives. We are merely keeping ourselves safe, or so we think. A situation arrises that calls for you to be brave, and yet you can’t even find your shoes. You might even forget how to tie them. You miss that important phone call because your alarm didn’t go off, or did you forget to set it? You meet someone you are attracted to but the saboteur won’t even let you get close enough to them to ask their name. Every hair on your body stands on end, signaling you of the girl who ripped your heart out after she stole every penny in your bank account. Never doing that again! Nope! Uh huh!
We will sabotage ourselves from living the life of our dreams, because the subconscious is that powerful. I’ve done it a hundred times!
I bet if I asked you to think of an experience that left you feeling like you weren’t good enough, you could come up with one in a millisecond. Oddly enough, we have to think a little longer to come up with a good memory; one where we felt loved and accepted for who we were. This is how conditioned we are to shooting ourselves in the foot!
I don’t believe things happen randomly. And I have worked on myself for so long, especially the last few years, that I finally get that things don’t happen to us, they happen for us. This is extremely empowering and I hope if you are reading this, that is something you will take away.
Things happen for us so that we can recognize where we have patterns. Where we might actually be sabotaging ourselves from the life we say we want, but are too afraid of what happened to us last week or ten years ago to move forward.
A life without facing fears is a life that is not fulfilling, it is a life of settling. It’s one that keeps us on the side of the fence looking over it, wondering if the grass really might be a little greener over there, but we will never know. We will just live in our yard, doing our thing, while we talk about others who take chances either begrudgingly or with admiration.
I promised my son I would say yes to every audition since I made this discovery of sabotage. And I have. I cannot be a person who tells him to follow his dreams, no matter how painful, frustrating, sad or hard, and not do the same.
Maybe, just maybe, it’s time you said hello to the things that scare the hell out of you, and said goodbye to fear. Maybe all of those things that inspire you and get you all excited will be right in front of you, as though you snapped your fingers and they suddenly appeared.
P.S. They’ve been there all along, but you were probably looking through the subconscious frames instead of the conscious ones.