This week I want to look back at Mike’s case. You can refresh your memory by reviewing it here.
Mike’s Saboteur works very differently than our previous case, Mary. One way to think of the difference is through the lens of the fight/flight instinct. When Mary is challenged by her Saboteur, she recoils; so its strategy will involve keeping her on her heels, in retreat mode.
Mike, on the other hand, will tend to respond aggressively to an obstacle or problem. If I am his Saboteur, therefore, I will use this against him, like in Judo, letting him supply all the force and merely redirecting it to his disadvantage.
This is a good example of how the Saboteur can turn your greatest strength into your greatest weakness, and we will see this repeatedly in Mike’s case.
Let’s look at the “possibility –> go unconscious –> habit –> no responsibility” process:
Oddly enough, Mike’s sense of possibility derives from his belief in himself. He’s confident that he can do everything and expects to be successful. He doesn’t have to wait for opportunity to activate him; he lives there.
That is why Mike’s Saboteur has adopted a consistent, long-term, Cold War-style, battle of attrition approach. It knows he will become truly vulnerable to attack after he has been systematically depleted over time. Mike won’t notice, because each day is just a drop in the bucket that mysteriously adds up over time.
Also, Mike doesn’t think of himself as a self-sabotager and, again, this prevents him from noticing what’s going on till it’s too late. Which brings us to unconsciousness:
On the macro level, as I’ve mentioned, overworking over time has exhausted Mike’s resources. It makes him less effective, less creative and, eventually, susceptible to self-doubt.
Having overloaded himself for so long has caused things to pile up, which constantly wears on him and can always be used to distract him from his highest priorities. The Saboteur has lured his energy and focus out of the present into the past.
On the micro level Mike ignores or feels he can’t afford to recognize all the daily signals of the need for self-care, organization, maintenance and boundaries. All of this drives him further into unconsciousness and more open to distraction and habit.
So what habits are Mike’s Saboteur trying to make him aware of?
- Not being able to say “no”
- Always thinking he could or should do more
- Trouble delegating and getting help
- Getting lost in a laser-focus mode which feels productive, but, in his compromised condition, ends up being more about working hard than working smart.
We can see two primary ways that responsibility is avoided in this case. Mike won’t be able to recognize the part he played in creating the situation, first because he will perceive it to be an issue of work ethic.
In his mind he can’t be faulted for not working as hard as possible; he did everything he could! The Saboteur knows that allowing him to stay focused on this closely-held value will fuel his righteous sense of being above reproach and prevent him from asking other important questions.
In a similar way the Saboteur will use his value of self-reliance against him by creating experiences that prove others can’t meet his standards.
When Mike restores balance in his life he will start attracting people who can help and support him, free up time and allow him to focus on what he does best.
It will be very hard for Mike to believe that he would make bad choices to reinforce his belief that he has to do everything, but as we have seen: when you are unconscious, you will make choices out of habit that maintain your comfort zone. These choices are frequently not in your highest interest.
Would you recognize Mike’s Saboteur in a dark alley now? What Judo move would you use on it? I’ll give you my suggestions next time in the exciting conclusion.