Let’s look at how Mike (remember Mike?) can benefit from what we know so far.
Mike’s Saboteur is trying to show him the habits and beliefs that do not serve his conscious intentions. Unfortunately, like most of us, he has not interpreted the information that way.
In Mike’s case he has reflexively taken it almost as a challenge; something to be overcome or disregarded. This creates a shadow relationship with the Saboteur and means he will experience it as his enemy.
The issue for most people is creating balance, and Mike is no exception. For him it will involve adjusting to the idea (moderation) that more isn’t more. Just because he can doesn’t mean he should.
One client of mine who ran himself into the ground finally started to get this when, after forcing himself to do half as much work, he noticed he was exactly as productive as before. The quality and quantity of his work had suffered as he abusively drove himself nonstop.
Two probabilities for people like Mike to consider:
- This hyper productivity mode can stem from a fear that if they didn’t force themselves to operate at max capacity that they would instead do absolutely nothing and turn into worthless bums. (This is the classic “all or nothing” Saboteur strategy.)
- Also along those lines, they are susceptible to great shame from even the suggestion that they didn’t do all they could do or that they should have taken more responsibility. The compensatory over-achievement ensures that they will, if nothing else, never suffer such an accusation.
In either case, obviously, the Saboteur barely has to lift a finger to exploit this compulsion.
So what can Mike do to create more balance?
- Change his relationship to self-care. Things like getting enough rest, exercise, and food, de-stressing, fun time, etc., must be seen as part of work. They are not luxuries, they are not signs of weakness; they directly affect his effectiveness and results.
- Practice boundaries and structure on a daily basis. Do not take the call when he is engaged with a higher priority. Do not agree to take on extra work (unless someone agrees to take something equivalent off his plate). End the call on schedule (perpetual over-delivery is what got him where he is).
- Get help. This will take practice, since there is a well-crafted belief that others aren’t safe to invest in. This faulty logic can begin to be exposed by realizing that the evidence supporting it comes largely from having previously made self-sabotaging choices of people who would fail him. People will become increasingly useful to Mike the more he is willing to allow them to be, and the less his ego is invested in being a super-achiever.
- Use rewards intentionally. If they work, use them. But schedule them; make them part of the agreement (“I will work for one hour, and then I get to play with the cat”). Don’t use them as compensation for having gotten to the point where you are bitter, tired and resentful. If he has to push himself that far to feel he’s earned it, then he may have a problem with feeling deserving in the first place.
Two other things that everyone, including Mike, can benefit from:
- Schedule check-in’s throughout the day to evaluate how you are doing. It gives you a chance to see if the Saboteur has insinuated himself into the situation. It also lets you break any negative unconscious momentum you may have built up.
- Reconnect with your passion and purpose on a regular basis. When we get tired, afraid, overwhelmed, lost, etc., we forget why we are doing this in the first place. Having a variety of ways to access your inspiration is restorative and can be very clarifying.
Once you are in touch with your heart’s desire you can ask yourself, “Is what I’m doing moving me towards that, away from it, or am I treading water (stuck, avoidant)?”
Do you identify more with Mike, Mary or do you have something entirely different going on?