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
  • Trickster


  • 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


  • 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)


  • 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:


  • 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)



One thought on “The Third Archetype: The Saboteur

  1. braddahr says:

    I think we all have a little Saboteur. Hey, what if you reframe new experiences from scary/terror events to adventures? So instead of saying – I have to do something new today (scary, run away run away) to I’m going on an adventure today?


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