Let your Shadow Side Work For you
How to use your less useful qualities positively.
To be quite frankly I have a very annoying characteristic: My inner Saboteur is constantly active. Both in my day-to-day life as a mom, wife and friend, but also in my work as a self-employed Narrative Coach and Narrative Consultant.
All day long, I hear that little voice inside me saying “Oh, you’re not good enough” or “Hey, what you just said, doesn’t make any sense”, or “Common, you have to do more to be really good” and so on.
As a result, I have a constant feeling of uncertainty that what I say is wrong, or that what I do is not the right thing that should be done…. So, often I don’t say anything or I don’t do anything…
Light side and shadow side
Like every archetype, the Saboteur has both a positive and a negative side, or rather: a light – and a shadow side. And like so many others, I find it difficult to see that light side of the Saboteur (or of those other dominant archetypes in me, which seem to holding me back now and then).
Especially when this Saboteur also is bonding with the Perfectionist in me, they completely reinforce each other’s shadow sides. As a result I am totally paralyzed, stuck in the mud of my own inner voices.
What to do next, then? Sit and wait till they shut up? NO!
Sometimes we discover the light side of a dominant archetype within ourselves by delving into the shadow side of him (or her… ?). How?
Every person has all the possible archetypes within them. So have you. All these archetypes are active in your life. But fortunately they are not all dominant at the same time. If so, your behaviour would be very unpredictable and your life would be a total chaos. Normally only your dominant archetypes in a certain situation are visible and noticeable in your behaviour.
Think of yourself as the CEO of an archetypal multinational. You have a group archetypes that characterize you: your boardroom. Some say that group contains 12 members, but in my experience that amount differs from person to person and from situation to situation. This group is fairly constant throughout your life, but may differ in certain parts depending on the phase in which you are in your life.
Motherhood and archetypal Nurture
For example when my children were small my inner Mother or Nurture was very dominant in my life. My job was in the place we lived and easily to manage with my motherhood: me taking care of the kids. The content of my job was important, of course. But my inner Nurture was sitting at the head of the boardroom table. So if my children were ill, to bad for my boss. I would work from home, or not working at all.
Now my kids are -almost- grown up, the need to be close to them is different. I don’t have to be at home on time to bring them to bed. Most of the time they are still awake, when I go to bed anyway. So the Mother or Nurture in my inner boardroom has taken a different place at the boardroom table now. And for example the Sage or the Explorer are of more importance now for me. Because the content of my work is of more importance and my own development and growth give me more satisfaction in my life.
Departments and projectteams
In addition to your archetypal boardroom, other archetypal departments are also active within you. Teams that become visible in your behavior in certain situations. In my work as a narrative consultant, coach, facilitator and trainer, a partly different group of archetypes is visible, than when I am a mother or a wife at home.
These archetypal departments in me are ‘led’ by one or sometimes several dominant archetypes from my board of directors. But they have other archetypal members too who add their value to what I do and how I behave.
In case I have a very special task to do in real life, before I start I always sit still for a moment and connect to the wisdom of my inner archetypes. Then I create a ‘projectteam’. Let’s say for example I am asked to be the master of ceremonies of my best friends wedding. Before I start I connect to those archetypes I expect to be helpful in this task: the Lover, the Creator, the Ruler, the Servant, the Risk manager, the Crisis manager. I explicite invite them to support me. But the moment I create this inner projectteam, a bunch of dominant archetypes I find difficult to face, sneak in too… Like the Saboteur.
Source of Light
At first glance, we tend to stay away from these “more negative” archetypes. Just by name, like the Saboteur, the Slave or the Prostitute for example, they give already a negative feeling as if they are bad to be dominant in your life.
True, the moment you recognize that these archetypes are dominant in your live, probably their shadow side prevails. And ‘shadow’ and ‘dark’ means for most of us something negative and not good.
But when we look at these archetypes and their shadow side with archetypal glasses, a completely different light shines on ourselves. Because if you consciously look up the shadow side of a dominant archetype in certain situations, this can help you to recognize your own strength.
Understanding the dominant archetypes in your life helps to break down your barriers, or restrictive thoughts or feelings. Archetypes are the source of your own powerful story.
If you want to live your own story, or rather stories, you have to be aware of the archetypes that are dominant in your life. Also the ones that show their shadow side. If not, they’ll take it over and you as CEO of your own inner archetypal company won’t be in charge anymore.
But when we first get to know ‘our boardroom’, we often discover archetypes, such as the Saboteur that we would rather lose than be rich. Instead of helping us get away from it, they reinforce our uncertainty or fear. Yet every archetype is a source of light.
Strengthen Your Self
Looking at yourself and the world around you through the archetypal glasses mean that you have to dare to face all of them first. Archetypes have lessons and therefore potential growth for you as a person, or for you as a team. Also those that we find difficult to face or which are even obstructive at first glance. They reveal a ‘weakness’, which we often prefer to deny and put away. But recognition off your shadow sides mean that you’ll recognize their patterns, so you will have a conscious choice to act differently.
In addition, each archetype has a shadow and a light side. So the Saboteur in me also has a light side. The power of the Saboteur is primarily destructive and devastating. But the flip side and therefore the positive side of devastation is the freedom to rebuild, or rebirth. So, after the devastation, there is room for something new. Something that might have wanted to come up in you for a long time.
Press the Pause Botton
Do you notice that the Saboteur plays a rather dominant role in your life?
Do you notice that you keep telling yourself that you aren’t good enough, or that what you do isn’t good enough?
Dare to dive in that feeling consciously. Press that pause button for a moment, stand still and sense, hear, see, feel and taste with your whole body what your inner archetypal source through the Saboteur is trying to tell you.
Make concrete for yourself what exactly isn’t good enough. Put into words or images what you want to do differently and you will discover what wants to be born in you again. For example, you discover something that you realize you had been planning to do for much longer. Or you realize that you want or need to do something completely different.
What do you have to face?
The shadow sides of dominant archetypes reveal what you have to face in your life. What should be healed or repaired so you can be fully balanced again. So the shadow sides strengthen us precisely in who we really are and at the same time in who we really want to be. They’re strengthening our Self. If we dare to dive in them….
Would you rather dive together? Feel free to contact me.
To be continued…