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Get to Know Your Saboteur or Be Run By It


  • You want to be in relationship but you continually seek out people who are unavailable.
  • You have a deadline but put it all off to the last minute so your work isn’t as good as it could be and you’re exhausted and stressed the whole time.
  • You have a dream you deeply want to manifest but you do little to make it happen.
  • You’re new at something and someone who’s more experienced makes valuable suggestions which you ignore because you’re going to do it your way even if it makes your life more difficult.
  • You’d love to feel a greater level of vitality, health, and fitness but you’re unwilling to change your diet, supplementation, or exercise habits.
  • Your finances are lean and you’re scared about how to pay your bills but you go out shopping and spend a bunch of money you don’t have to get things you don’t really need.

What’s going on here? It’s sabotage!


Your shadow, which is all the parts of yourself that you repress and/or exclude from your dominant identity, is composed of many different parts or characters. Some were created as roles to meet the requirements of how you were socialized. But mostly these parts were created as a result of experiencing and trying to cope with the different traumas you’ve gone through in your life. Part like… the good girl/boy, victim, inner child, defender/protector, teacher/healer, rebel, boss, temptress, intellect, etc.

The saboteur… can be any of these parts when you’re not in relationship with them. When you ignore them or distance yourself from them, they have the power to grab the proverbial wheel inside and drive you through becoming the dominant choice maker and manifestor, even when your conscious self may say it wants or is intending something completely different. “I said I was going to be healthier so why am I gorging myself on cookies at 11 pm right before bed?”

When this happens, the sabotage choice presents as what this part of you wants. And, to the degree that you’re identified with it, as what you want. But really, the choice, and the ongoing effect it will have, is not so much what this part of you wants as what it needs to support its identity. And, to take it a step further, your shadow parts influence you to show themselves to you, the conscious self, so you can get to know them and get into relationship with them.

Sabotage… One of your shadow parts trumping your dominant identity and expressing itself through choosing and manifesting something in your life in an effort to get you to see it, pay attention to it, and get into a better relationship with it. When you think of it this way, sabotage gets a re-brand into becoming a way of going deeper into our self awareness… instead of remaining a nebulous force that’s always throwing convoluted twists into our well-intentioned plans.


robinclark-smallarmyYou know what it’s like when you’re with a child that’s upset, yes? They may be having any manner of emotional outpouring but the calmer and more present you can be with them, regardless of what they’re saying or doing, the better and easier it goes. But when you get triggered by taking what they’re saying personally or through trying to control or dominate them, you shift from being the adult who can be with them, to the adult who is it merging with them… and things usually go from bad to worse fast.

It’s just the same with ourselves. Who is online within you BEING WITH the parts of you that need attention? Usually nobody because we’re so merged and identified with these parts (the rebel, victim, good girl, the perfect student/worker etc.) we don’t recognize a need to step back from them. Until we see the limiting effect they have. Then we get motivated to start an awareness practice, learn how to get centered, and instead of being run by our shadow parts, we turn around, face them, get to know them, and get into a healthier relationship with them.

1. Open the door to getting to know your inner world by reading this post I wrote about shadow stalking.

2. To break a pattern you have to SEE the pattern.

… And not just intellectually (which is where we’re socialized to mostly hang out) but deeply, emotionally, and in your body. To see it in this way, you have to make paying attention and honest self-inquiry a regular practice. And why you’d choose to take this on when you’ve got so many other interesting and fun things to pay attention to is because when it comes to sabotage…

The less aware you are of your shadow parts,
the more power they have to run your life.

Do you want to keep being at odds with yourself? Do you want to keep living patterns that make you feel scattered, confused, or frustrated with your choices? Of course not. But being mad about it or beating yourself up won’t change anything. You have to do the work and become a card-carrying shadow stalker who’s interested in wholeness, healing, peeling back the layers, and self-realization.

3. How you do anything is how you do everything.

Despite whatever personas you’ve got going, you’re the same person with the same shadow material wherever you go. How you do any part of your life is how you do all the areas of your life. But because looking at things with such a wide lens is overwhelming, pick one sabotage-y thing you do to pay attention to (like being regularly late, not following through on things, being continually disappointed about a certain aspect of your relationship patterns, distracting yourself online, avoiding exercise, etc.) and then do the self-inquiry work to peel back the layers and see who in you is expressing itself and asking to be in a better relationship with you.

Point in case: To do some research for this post, this past week I observed myself with completing work tasks. I saw a major pattern of avoidance that’s total sabotage and as I followed it, it led me to young, deeply insecure parts of me that believe the only way to be safe is to stay hidden. So, every time my dominant self decides to express itself in a way that moves my life forward (like completing even really basic tasks), this shadow part gets deeply triggered and will do just about anything to get me to stop. What does knowing this do? Not much if I only use it as head food. But it does a ton when I approach my work each day as an awareness practice to observe who in me is making choices, stay in relationship with this part of me that’s scared and wants to hide, and make choices from center.

4. The point is to develop a greater capacity to choose which parts of us we’re going to bring forward, not kill them off because they’re inconvenient.

Some people enter into this kind of shadow stalking self-inquiry process hoping they can learn just enough about the parts of themselves they find tricky to get rid of them which is not only not the point, but not a possibility. It’s not up to us to decide what parts of ourselves are allowed to exist and which ones aren’t. But it IS in your power to get to know the parts of yourself well enough that you’re able to recognize when they come online and CHOOSE how you’re going to relate to them.

5. Get out your EGO-SPF and use it.

As illuminating and empowering as doing this work is, your ego isn’t going to want you to have anything to do with it because it manipulates and influences you through your disconnection to yourself and it does not want to lose its power to influence you. But to be real clear: it doesn’t matter what ego wants. What matters is what YOU want. And if you want to free yourself from unconscious and habitual patterns, roles, and identities you developed in response to trauma, reclaim your power, and discover more about your true self, then doing this work is the way there. But you need to brace yourself for your ego’s attacks which are all ploys to get you to do what it wants (stay confused, miserable, insecure), instead of you placing your attention where you want (empowerment, clarity, freedom). If you’ve ever quit an addiction, that feeling of craving you have to stand up to is a lot of what this feels like. Can you do it? Of course you can. Is it comfortable? No. Is it worth it? YES!

Your Excuses Are Not the Real Reason Why You Avoid Taking Action In Your Life » Robin Clark | Bay Area Coach & Photographer for Women -

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