The Third Archetype: The Saboteur

This is the third part in a series of twelve.

Here is part 1. I’ve decided to use archetypes as a way to talk to my previous self/ves, as explained here. Once I’ve given each of my twelve archetypes an introduction, we’ll start exchanging letters again.

For reference, here are my twelve archetypes. 

12The first four are universal – everyone has them – and the remaining eight are personal. You can check out this link for a full list of possible archetypes.

1. Child (Cookie Monster)

2. Sellout

3. Saboteur

4. Victim

5. Addict

6. Critic

7. Vampire

8. Shape Shifter

9. Storyteller

10. Dilettante

11. Seeker

12. Seer

Saboteur

Name(s):

  • Saboteur
  • Trickster

Description:

  • Relates to fears and low-self esteem that cause you to make choices that undermine your own empowerment and success
  • Calls attention to when you are in danger of sabotaging yourself or being sabotaged
  • Helps you learn the many ways in which you undermine yourself
  • Manifests as self-destructive behavior or desire to undermine others
  • Undermine plans, relationships, etc due to fear of a painful outcome

Typical thoughts, feelings, & behaviors

binge

  • This scary new thing isn’t going to work out – I need to do something familiar with results that are safe and familiar
  • Bingeing so I gain weight, will be too ashamed to go out in public, and remain safe from new people and experiences
  • Bingeing so I don’t have the energy or self-esteem to try new things
  • Staying sick and dependent on family so I don’t risk not being able to take care of myself
  • Sabotaging relationships so I don’t feel rejected later
  • Procrastinating and not putting my energy into dreams I have that have risk to fail or bring me embarrassment
  • Bingeing so I can protect myself from unpleasant feelings (sadness, loneliness, rejection, embarrassment, etc)

What personal characteristics led me to choose this archetype?

  • This is one of the four survival archetypes, so I automatically have it
  • I constantly self-sabotage the ways listed above due to fear of the new and unknown so I can remain in a safe familiar setting
  • Kept me safe from scary new situations where I would feel embarrassed, afraid, ashamed, rejected, etc.

What events reflect this archetype during my life?

  • Struggling with binge eating since I was eleven to avoid unpleasant feelings (especially loneliness)
  • Harming myself and engaging in eating disordered behavior so I could stay in a treatment center (age 21-22)
  • Binged and gained over 30 pounds when I moved to my location in August so I would be too ashamed of my body to go out in public, try new things, make friends, etc. This also made me numb to feelings associated with my move to get away from my past (sadness, anger, frustration, rejection, loneliness, etc) (age 25)
  • Making myself become distant in my current relationship so I don’t get hurt later – it’s ending in a few weeks since we’ll both be moving to different countries (age 25)

What role or function has this archetype played for me?

  • Kept me insulated from painful feelings, given me comfort
  • Given me access to care in the form of family support and insurance payment for treatment centers
  • Kept me safe from experiencing failure

Which prominent people have interacted with the aspect of my nature supported by this archetype? (Think of people who have played important roles or inspired you)

treatment.jpg

  • Eating disorder treatment centers – I sabotaged my own recovery and health so I could remain under their care
  • Fellow eating disorder patients – I learned from the best
  • Family – I self-sabotaged to remain under their care. They also tend to cast doubt on my ability to take care of myself and pursue dreams. The saboteur tends to use their arguments to justify self-sabotage.

What myths, fairy tales, or spiritual stories that have meaning for me do I associate with this archetype?

  • I can’t actually think of any at the moment.

Does thinking of this archetype make me feel empowered or disempowered? How has it affected my spirituality?

  • Disempowered – there are so many things I want to do with my life (like write) that I haven’t let myself fully commit to because I fear failure and rejection
  • I haven’t been able to truly connect with anyone romantically because I fear being left. I already knew the relationship I’m in now was going to end because we’re both moving to different countries, but I didn’t let myself truly fall for him since I knew he was leaving. I think I could have enjoyed our time together, however brief, more if I hadn’t been so hung up on how depressed I’ll feel once I’m alone again.
  • I don’t feel fulfilled in life because of how fear controls my actions.

Has it caused me to block or forgo change that needs to happen? (Ex: forgiveness, can’t let go of the past)

  • There are several changes I need to make in my life, such as pursuing my goals and having new experiences, that I haven’t made due to fear and subsequent self-sabotage.
  • I’ve hung onto my past “failures” and use them as evidence that I cannot succeed at my goals and need to self-sabotage.
  • I still cling to my parents’ ideas that I am not competent to do the things I want, and I use that to support self-sabotage

What immediate guidance might this archetype have to offer me in the present moment?

  • Who I was in the past is not necessarily the person I am today. Continuing to use my past as evidence that my future is doomed is not constructive or accurate. Especially now that I have awareness of my self-sabotage tendencies, I can exact real change.
  • Yes, new experiences are scary and cause possible rejection and embarrassment, but only through trying new things can I change my future. Repeating my past actions will only perpetuate the past.
  • Staying sick may gain me familiar security, but it will ultimately bring me more harm than good. Only through risking going through life as a healthy person vulnerable to failure and rejection can I truly find fulfillment.

A few things of note:

tools.jpg

  • This profile of the Saboteur clearly demonstrates that certain dysfunctional behaviors can be used as a tool by multiple archetypes. For example, my desire to binge can come both from the Child archetype that wants to have fun with candy, etc. and also from the Saboteur archetype that wants me to eat until I feel so sick that I can’t engage in new experiences.
  • This is one of the hardest archetypes to wrap my head around. The idea that I have used my eating disorder or depression as a way to self-sabotage gets under my skin. Yes, I genuinely was in need of help for my mental and physical struggles, but remaining sick also sabotaged my plans and relationships in a way that I was free from a certain type of pain. While I was in pain that my plans didn’t work out, I didn’t have to suffer going through with plans and having them fail. While I suffered when relationships didn’t work out, I could blame their failure on my eating disorder rather than being rejected for my personality, etc. Especially because my parents have accused me of faking mental health issues to avoid growing up and to be taken care of, I am quick to become defensive when I contemplate this archetype. I’ve resolved to view my mental health issues as a balance: yes, I was genuinely sick, but there were other aspects in my control. I don’t believe I make a conscious choice to stay sick so I could sit on the sidelines of life, but I wouldn’t say that I was unaware of the benefits I gained from remaining sick.

I would love to hear what you guys think of the Saboteur archetype and how this archetype might have impacted your life.

Best wishes,

Signature: Ana (Dear Cookie Monster)

Ana

Lights: Visible Shame (Dear Cookie Monster)

The Second Archetype: The Sellout

This is the second part in a series of twelve.

Here is part 1. I’ve decided to use archetypes as a way to talk to my previous self/ves, as explained here. Once I’ve given each of my twelve archetypes an introduction, we’ll start exchanging letters again.

For reference, here are my twelve archetypes.
The first four are universal – everyone has them – and the remaining eight are personal. You can check out this link for a full list of possible archetypes.

121. Child (Cookie Monster)

2. Sellout

3. Saboteur

4. Victim

5. Addict

6. Critic

7. Vampire

8. Shape Shifter

9. Storyteller

10. Dilettante

11. Seeker

12. Seer

sellout

Name(s):

  • Sellout
  • Prostitute* (this is the term Carolyn Myss uses, but I’m not comfortable with it)

Description:

  • Engages in lessons of integrity, self-esteem, and self-respect
  • Negotiates one’s integrity or spirit due to fears of survival (physical and financial) or for financial gain
  • Most noticeable when survival is threatened
  • Selling own power to buy a controlled interest in another person
  • Selling of talents, ideas, and self-expression
  • Tests faith in following the right course of action (in accordance with values, etc) or going astray for the sake of survival
  • Staying in unhealthy relationships for the sake of security
  • Can become an ally that alerts you when you start compromising your integrity for survival

Typical thoughts, feelings, & behaviors:

  • I can’t take care of myself – I need to keep strong ties with my family so that I will never suffer
  • I am not lovable and I need to be loved to survive – therefore I will change myself to become more lovable (more attractive body, don’t stick up for myself, stay with people who mistreat me)
  • Anxious and insecure when thinking about my financial situation
  • Worried about appearance and what people will think – fear losing approval and the survival risks not being accepted might pose
  • People please, which compromises integrity for the sake of acceptance

What personal characteristics led me to choose this archetype?

  • This is one of the four universal archetypes (child, sellout, saboteur, victim), so I automatically have it
  • I tend to be anxious and insecure, especially about my ability to care for myself, which leads to choices that don’t uphold my values
  • I’m overly concerned with my appearance

What events reflect this archetype during my life?

scale

  • Giving up my “childish” dreams (becoming a writer, etc) to gain approval from my family
  • Giving up my identity to conform with my classmates in hopes I could gain their acceptance
  • Dieting, fasting, and purging to lose weight so I become more acceptable despite how damaging it is to my health
  • Having unhealthy relationships for the sake of feeling secure and wanted
  • Staying in a long-distance relationship with someone I felt zero attraction to for the sake of being in a relationship (having someone call me, etc)
  • Staying sick so my family will take care of me – sacrifice my independence and health

What role or function has this archetype played for me?

  • Kept me safe from financial hardship (family will always be there to provide a safety net just in case)
  • Put me on a path for financial security (original plan, that I have not yet entirely discarded, was to become a medical doctor)
  • Made my body more acceptable
  • Provided me with security in the form of relationships

Which prominent people have interacted with the aspect of my nature supported by this archetype? (Think of people who have played important roles or inspired you)

  • Parents: I’ve compromised my independence and dreams for the sake of pleasing them
  • Previous relationships: people-pleased and compromised my spirit for the sake of security and feeling loved
  • Fellow patients at eating disorder treatment centers: learned how to compromise health and sanity for the sake of remaining in a safe environment

What myths, fairy tales, or spiritual stories that have meaning for me do I associate with this archetype?

scabbers

  • Dumbledore: “Dark times lie ahead of us and there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.”
  • Peter Pettigrew: betraying his friends for the sake of security and power
  • (There are plenty more, but I’m blanking at the moment)

Does thinking of this archetype make me feel empowered or disempowered? How has it affected my spirituality?

  • Disempowered: I don’t feel like I have a strong set of values in the first place, and I struggle with following them in the face of adversity
  • I don’t value myself as I am. I feel like I need to compromise myself in order to gain acceptance and security.

Has it caused me to block or forgo change that needs to happen? (Ex: forgiveness, can’t let go of the past)

  • I’m starting to get sad about an upcoming separation because I will be alone. I’ve also tied my self-esteem into it: the person doesn’t want to sacrifice everything to be with me, so I must not be worth much.

What immediate guidance might this archetype have to offer me in the present moment?

  • Try new things that you think are scary – these will help you grow as a person and fill your heart with joy. Even though you may feel like they threaten you (people will reject me, I will look silly, etc), they ultimately will pay off. You miss all the shots you don’t take.
  • Have faith that everything will work out. If you constantly worry about your security, you will put yourself into a box that eventually will drain your resources (emotional, etc).
  • Only keep supportive people in your life. You don’t have to compromise yourself in order to be likable. A million fake friends don’t hold a candle to one real friend.
  • You don’t need a boyfriend to take care of you or prove that you are lovable. Changing yourself to please someone or settling just for the sake of being in a relationship will make you miserable.

A note about the last question:

The great thing about archetypes is that they help bring awareness to the areas they concern once you learn more about them. While the Sellout archetype may have caused me to compromise my morals in the past, it can now alert me to situations where I will have to choose between my values and my survival. Once I am aware of the situation, thanks to this archetype, I can then choose to follow my values rather than act on my impulse to take care of my financial or physical survival in shallow ways that ultimately lead to more harm than good.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about the Sellout archetype and how it impacts your life. 

Best wishes,

Signature: Ana (Dear Cookie Monster)

Sources:

Carolyn Myss – Appendix: A Gallery of Archetypes

The First Archetype: The Child

This is the first part of a series of twelve. I’ve decided to use archetypes as a way to talk to my previous self/ves, as explained here. Once I’ve given each of my twelve archetypes an introduction, we’ll start exchanging letters again.

Signature - Cookie Monster age 11

Name(s):

  • Inner Child
  • Cookie Monster

Description:

  • One of the four universal survival archetypes (child, sellout, saboteur, victim)

Typical thoughts, feelings, & behaviors

childhood-011

  • Playful, childish, innocent
  • Finding wonder in the world
  • Feeling excited about nothing
  • Looking for the best in people
  • Pursuing adventures
  • Lonely and bored when not around people
  • Insecure when doing adult things without supervision or approval
  • Insecure about making own decisions
  • Feel like the black sheep in the family
  • Feel abandoned and misunderstood by family
  • Seeking out a surrogate family in friends and adults
  • Sense of possibility and optimism
  • Getting lost in fantasy
  • Wanting to stay young, worried about getting older
  • Forgetting what age I am, thinking I’m younger than I actually am
  • Feeling empty, trying to fill up the emptiness from childhood (like with bingeing)
  • Mischievous and stubborn
  • Giggly
  • Short attention span

What personal characteristics led me to choose this archetype?

  • Self-doubt to take on adult responsibilities, feel inadequate like I need a proper adult to help me (managing finances, taxes, signing legal contracts, work issues)
  • Feeling amazed when people my age or younger do adult things with their lives – Aren’t we all still supposed to be kids?
  • Feel uncertain in adult relationships. Relationships end up one-sided with me being taken care of or taught how to be an adult
  • I’m uneasy around authority and always do what I’m told
  • I feel nervous making major life decisions without consulting my parents or another adult
  • When I binge-eat, I tend to eat kid’s food or food from my childhood (candy, ice cream, cookies, etc.)
  • Desire to help other people heal their childhood wounds (through this blog, contemplating becoming a social worker)

What events reflect this archetype during my life?

“Drunk Me”: Kid in a Candy Store (Dear Cookie Monster)

  • Binge-eating as a kid on cookies and junk food, which my parents forbid
  • Continuing to binge eat as an adult (as recent as Sunday)
  • Alternating between childishly rebelling against my parents (rebelling just for the sake of rebelling) and being unwaveringly obedient
  • Being criticized growing up for not fitting in with family ideals (poor marks in grammar school, pursing childish dreams, always reading fiction)
  • Constantly worrying about parental approval even as an adult
  • Fantasizing about running away from home, which led to me going to a boarding school at 16, college 3,000 miles away at 18, and moving half-way around the world last August at 25
  • Resisting recovery from my eating disorder because staying sick meant I could keep getting care
  • It’s become more problematic as I’ve gotten older since it undermines my ability to be a functioning adult.

What role or function has this archetype played for me? (Ex: filling needs, bringing security, etc)

  • This has kept me safe and secure. I am still able to get help from my parents because I have never really left the nest. I live on the other side of the world, but with my ups and downs I’ve needed to ask them for assistance.
  • This has kept me from failure. Because I’ve never truly spread my wings as an adult, I haven’t failed at anything I’ve tried to do.

Which prominent people have interacted with the aspect of my nature supported by this archetype? (Think of people who have played important roles or inspired you)

  • My parents
  • People I met in treatment who were adults but still highly dependent upon parents since they struggled caring for and supporting themselves
  • Children I work with now – I find myself comparing my own childhood to theirs and feeling empty

What myths, fairy tales, or spiritual stories that have meaning for me do I associate with this archetype?

harry-potter-and-the-sorcerers-stone-cover-image

  • Peter Pan – not wanting to grow up
  • The Secret Garden – finding escape from family
  • Harry Potter – feeling like black sheep, dreaming about leaving, Hogwarts becoming new home, I cried all day on my 11th birthday when my Hogwarts letter didn’t come
  • Anne Frank – still thinking humanity is good despite the things I’ve seen

Does thinking of this archetype make me feel empowered or disempowered? How has it affected my spirituality?

  • I feel disempowered. I want to become a healthy functioning adult, but I’m riddled with self-doubt and insecurities.
  • I don’t feel able to take care of myself
  • My energy drains into my insecurity and anxiety
  • I’m not as playful and free as I naturally am

Has it caused me to block or forgo change that needs to happen? (Ex: forgiveness, can’t let go of the past)

  • This blocks my ability to become a functioning adult
  • I feel insecure in adult relationships
  • I lack confidence to manage adult things (finances, taxes, etc)
  • I still blame my parents a bit for how my dysfunctional upbringing still impacts me today (body shame and dieting laying the foundation for an eating disorder, using criticism and shame to direct me, overprotection leading to insecurity and dependence, letting my brother degrade my self-esteem)

What immediate guidance might this archetype have to offer me in the present moment?

  • Be more innocent, playful, adventurous
  • People are fun to go on adventures with
  • I am a creative, awesome, daring person who is unstoppable
  • “Genius is childhood recaptured” – Baudelaire

My sources:

Carolyn Myss – Appendix: A Gallery of Archetypes

Candess M. Campbell – The Child Archetype

 

 

Archetypes: Parts of Self

Dear Reader,

I apologize to anyone trying to follow along. Right now, I’m just trying to sort things out in my head by writing them out.

Last time, I talked about Internal Family Systems as a method to create dialogue between different parts of self.

I exchange letters between my younger self. How does this relate?

Each of these different parts of self formed at different times in my life. Since they have extreme roles, they broke off at a time when extreme action was required to remedy a situation. For example, the part that binges emerged when I was 11 to cope with being lonely, bored, and rejected after school. When I binge today, my behaviors tend to revert back to how I acted as an eleven-year-old. Therefore, if I’m dialoguing with a part of self, I am dialoguing with a younger self.

So, how do I determine these parts of self?

Before, when I was in therapy, the parts of self were defined quite vaguely. I could define it by a behavior, like, “the part that binges.” But what does that mean? Lots of parts end up bingeing because that is a useful tool for many goals (self-sabotage, comfort, punishment, etc.).

So, what I’m going to use is Carolyn Myss’s system of archetypes. My mom swears one of her audiobooks (“Why People Don’t Heal and How They Can“) helped her recover from cancer.  I normally wouldn’t buy into that sort of “mumbo jumbo,” but she’s a medical doctor and was on death’s doorstep. If she’s into it, then I’ll give it a try.

I read “Why Poeple Don’t Heal and How They Can” when I got out of the hospital for a manic/psychotic episode. I was at my absolute lowest and didn’t want to get out of bed. That book helped drag me back from the depths and has contributed to me putting a lot of my baggage behind me.

Back on track: I later went on to read her book “Sacred Contracts,” which is about a bunch more “mumbo jumbo” that I feel sheepish to admit I believe a tiny bit. (Just a tiny bit.)

One of the things she mentions in her book is this concept of archetypes.

Myss didn’t come up with the idea of archetypes – that was Carl Jung’s doing. Jung conceived archetypes as “universal, archaic patterns and images that derive from the collective unconscious and are the psychic counterpart of instinct” (Feist J, Feist GJ, (2009) Theories of Personality, New York New York; McGraw-Hill). Honestly, I can’t really think of a way to concisely summarize what an archetype is, so I hope that’s good enough for now. I’m just going to call them “parts of self” because that’s easier for me.

According to Myss, each person is born with 12 parts of self.

(They can be arranged like the face of a clock – hence the featured image).  The first four are all the same in everyone because they are essential to survival (the Child, the Sellout, the Saboteur, and the Victim). The remaining eight are more specific to the individual.

Here are my 12 archetypes:

Signature - Cookie Monster age 11

1. Child (which I call “Cookie Monster”)

sellout

2. Sellout (she calls it the “Prostitute,” but I prefer this term)

Saboteur

3. Saboteur

victim

4. Victim

addict

5. Addict

Critic

6. Critic

vampire

7. Vampire

shapeshifter

8. Shape-Shifter

storyteller

9. Storyteller

dilettante

10. Dilettante

seeker

11. Seeker

seer

12. Seer

My first phase of this project will to create a profile for each of them.

I plan to look at their description (including when they emerged on my timeline), what behaviors they have, why they do those behaviors (what need are they trying to fill), the consequences of those behaviors, and what new behaviors we can try that would achieve the same goal.

The key thing to keep in mind: all parts of self have benevolent intentions.

Beneath it all, they genuinely care for the self as a whole. How they envision that differs drastically, but I believe well-being can ultimately be achieved if we can all get on the same page.

Thanks for reading. Major kudos if you are following along!

Until next time,

Signature: Ana (Dear Cookie Monster)

Ana