Saboteur Archetype

Guardian of Choice

“..the gift of the Saboteur enables you to see your greatest fears and reestablish your relationship with them. Instead of allowing your fears to hold you hostage, you face them and are set free”

– Caroline Myss

The Lens of the Saboteur

I am so excited to do this, I want to do this. I can’t wait!

Are you certain this time it will work? It hasn’t worked before.

No, stop talking! I have to stick to my plan.
It’s humiliating. Give yourself a break. Here’s a pie.

You work so hard. You deserve just a bite. No one’s around.

OK, maybe just one bite.

Survivor Archetype: Caroline Myss’s book, Sacred Contract, identifies four survival archetypes embedded in every person: The Child, the Victim, the Prostitute, and the Saboteur. These archetypal respondents swoop in when your sense of security is threatened (real or imagined).  Each address specific challenges that will have you confront your self-esteem.  Let’s take a look at the Saboteur Archetype.


Template of the Saboteur:  The Saboteur Archetype emerges whenever you are in a situation to make a decision that may alter a change in your life from something relatively simple to something daring. It’s that constant nagging voice second guessing and undermining your decisions.  That voice is embedded since your birth.  

Why? For survival.  Humans crave order and certainty. When a change occurs, fear of the unknown sets in.  Fear triggers the Saboteur to emerge.   To understand the dynamics of the Saboteur, you must first understand the brain-emotion-body response to fear. 

The science behind Fear: Brain-emotion-body response

  • You perceive a threat (ex: see an actual lion)
  • Triggers amygdala (located in temporal lobe part of the brain) to release stress hormone in response to fear
  • The hormones release leads to bodily changes that prepare us to be more efficient in a danger: The brain becomes hyper alert, pupils dilate, the bronchi dilate and breathing accelerates. Heart rate and blood pressure rise. Blood flow and stream of glucose to the skeletal muscles increase. Organs not vital in survival such as the gastrointestinal system slow down.
  • The body adjustment gives you the best defense, fight, flight or freeze reaction. 
  • See lion chase you, amygdala flips your brain into action[1]

Metaphorical Lion:  Living in metropolitan or suburban  area, seeing an actual lion is not a usual occurrence.  However, a metaphorical lion comes your way in various forms such as asking your boss for a raise, making an important presentation in front of colleagues or a class, or taking a leap of faith and quitting your current job to pursue your dreams.  Situations like these, create the same conditions for the brain-emotion-body response.  

Your brain will send  the same chemicals to your body, due to perceived fear of the task, which will create physical symptoms.  Because there is no actual real threat, your prefrontal neocortex also known as the thinking brain comes in to problem-solve.  This prevents your amygdala from flipping your brain.  

Understanding this physical response to fear is vital to empowering your Saboteur Archetype.  As you engage in actions in pursuit of your dreams, if you ignore your emotions and the physical reactions you are feeling, will lead to anxiety and the likelihood the Saboteur will stop you is high.  The brain-emotion-body connection is too strong to ignore. 


Motivation:  Certainty and Survival

 The Gifts of the Light and Shadow:

The Light/positive aspects of the Saboteur archetype empowers you to overcome difficult events and situations.  The Shadow/negative aspects can disempower you and lock you into fear, anger, and suffering. How do you manage your anxiety and fear in pursuit of your goals?

Shadow – Disempowering Attributes

  •  Focuses only on the mind ignoring physical symptoms of fear
  • depending on certainty to make decisions
  • unfocused
  • takes risk
  • lack of confidence
  • staying with the familiar
  • Lack of discipline to prepare and sets you up for failure  

Light- Empowering Attributes

  • Address physical symptoms such as exercise, yoga, walking 
  • Intuitive
  • Creative
  • Brave
  • builds confidence and skills
  • reminds self of intention
  •  Goal-oriented

The Lessons for the Saboteur Archetype:   Face one fears and developing trust and intuition

Reflection:  What to do to dampen fear response:

  • Observe: Listen without judgement to what your internal thoughts are telling you and physical symptoms. Do not distract yourself.
  • Emotion: Feel your emotions. Again, do not distract yourself.
  • Mind: Be conscious and ask questions specifically related to what is causing you anxiety? Is this perceived threat dangerous to you right now?  What are the things I can do right now? Are these thoughts reasonable?
  • Body: Allow for physical movement and exercise to clear your thoughts. This will allow your intuition to come through. Listen to your gut senses.
  • Spiritual: Seek spiritual direction if your anxiety or fear is causing roadblocks.
  • Inspiration: Remember your intention. Knowing your intention will help ease your anxiety and give you strength to move forward.

The Saboteur Archetype is a great ally when you can learn to manage when you are confronted with fear. The main function of fear and anxiety is to act as a signal of danger, threat, or motivational conflict, and to trigger appropriate adaptive responses [2].  For those metaphorical lions that exists for you, fear and anxiety are reminders for you to prepare, focus, and stay in the present moment.

Here’s a great video illustrating how your brain responds to fear. 

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Remy Nirschl
—— About Remy Nirschl:
Remy is a writer, a mother to two wonderful souls, and a soul companion to her husband of nearly 25 years. Propelled into the autism journey in 2004 with the diagnosis of her son, this lead Remy to journey within as she experienced great losses and challenges. Trained in Caroline Myss “Sacred Contract”, this modality has given her the tools for clarity and empowerment. Remy is called into service as an Archetypal Consultant mentoring individuals in their soul journey.
Want to learn more about your other Archetypal Patterns?  Read more….

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