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Understanding Archetypes: Why We Sabotage Relationships

Understanding The Saboteur Archetypes

by Shanti O’Connor

Each person is born with at least 12 archetypal energies. These 12 energies provide the foundation for our personality, drives, feelings, beliefs, motivations, and actions. We can learn from and work with these 12 archetypes throughout our life. While at different ages and stages certain archetypes might be more present than others, they are all there working in subtle and not so subtle ways. Once you have discovered the 12 archetypal energies you are working with, you have a roadmap to your highest potential.

Carl Jung introduced archetypes to mainstream society, however, it is believed that Plato was the first to bring this concept to our consciousness. Jung saw archetypes as the fundamental units of the human mind. The term “archetype” has its origins in ancient Greek. The root words are archein, which means “original or old”; and typos, which means “pattern, model or type”. The combined meaning is an “original pattern” of which all other similar persons, objects, or concepts are derived, copied, modeled, or emulated.

There are more archetypes than I can list, but here is a short list of some just to shed light on this concept.

Actor, Caregiver. Crone, Dreamer, Fool, God, Healer, Knight, Magician, Matriarch, Patriarch, Poet, Victim, Warrior, Slave, Bully, Student, Clown, King, Queen, Priest, Prophet, Rebel, Scholar, Storyteller, Thief, Addict, Artist, Beggar, Child, Goddess, Mystic, Nun, Pilgrim, Lover, Monk, Gossip, Teacher….

Shadow and Light

It’s important to know that each archetype has two sides: shadow and light. The thought is, the less conscious you are of the energies you work with the more possible it is for that energy to be unconscious or in the shadow, and therefore negatively impact you or others. The more aware of and conscious you are of the archetypes you work with, the more you can choose to be in the positive or light side of that energy.

Another way to think of it is that the shadow shows us the parts of our self that are buried deep within and occupy our subconscious mind. They often emerge unexpectedly and in destructive ways. The light aspects show us the opportunities to reach our highest potential and to live from a place of gentleness, integrity, and power.

Survival Archetypes

When it comes to archetypes it is believed that there are 4 universal archetypes that each and every person on the planet has as part of their 12. These 4 archetypes are considered survival archetypes.

The four survival archetypes and their primary purpose are:

  • The Child – responsibility, innocence, authority
  • The Victim – personal power, self-esteem
  • The Prostitute – faith, negotiation, integrity
  • The Saboteur – choice, truth, self-esteem

These archetypes influence how we respond to challenge, how we make choices especially when we are afraid of something or someone.

The following are the positive aspects of these energies.

Child — Sovereign
Victim —
Prostitute —
Saboteur —

The Archetypes

The Saboteur Archetype

The specific archetype I want to focus on is the saboteur. This can be a difficult archetype to understand because its name conjures thoughts of betrayal. Yet the purpose of this archetype is not to sabotage you. This archetype is here to help you learn the many ways in which you undermine yourself. So, in many ways, the role of the saboteur is to protect you.

The saboteur can cause you to sabotage opportunities, resist healthy relationships, and close your heart. This archetype is linked to your fears of surviving in physical reality. It can raise doubts about your ability to pay your bills, fit into society, find the right job, or have the relationship of your dreams. The Saboteur’s fears and issues are related to low self-esteem. In particular, the areas of self-esteem that cause you to make choices that undermine your own empowerment and success.

In order to find empowerment working with this archetype, you need to face it and make it an ally. When you do, you will find that it calls your attention to situations in which you are in danger of being sabotaged, or of sabotaging yourself. Once you are comfortable with the Saboteur, you learn to “hear” these warnings, saving yourself from making the same mistakes over and over.

Ignore it, and the shadow Saboteur will manifest in the form of self-destructive behavior or the desire to undermine others.

Ways in which we sabotage

How often do you set new plans in motion, only to have them undermined by your fears? Or, begin a new relationship and then destroy it because you begin to imagine a painful outcome. Have you ever struck up a working relationship with another person only to find yourself once again in a power struggle? Or, befriended someone you don’t fully trust only to fall into a destructive pattern as a result of your fear of what the other person might do?

Whenever you try to get too close to people, the saboteur will help you to subconsciously create situations that cause conflict and pain, and leave you feeling disappointed, hopeless, or lonely. It can also judge, criticize, and put you down, telling you that you are unworthy of good things. Thus, you may stop trusting the wisdom of your heart without realizing that the saboteur is running the show.

Ways to work with this archetype

To learn how to become aware of the action of the Saboteur within, ask yourself these questions:

  • What fears have the most power over me?
  • What happens when a fear overtakes me?
  • Do I allow people to speak for me?
  • Do I agree to some things out of fear that I otherwise would not agree to?
  • Have I let creative opportunities pass me by?
  • How conscious am I in the moment that I am sabotaging myself?
  • Am I able to recognize the Saboteur in others?
  • Would I be able to offer others advice about how to challenge one’s Saboteur? If so, what would it be?

Once you confront your saboteur and understand how it is trying to keep you safe, you can develop a healthy relationship with it. Instead of creating pain, it can alert you to wonderful opportunities and lead you toward acceptance, forgiveness, self-love, and joy! It can also show you all the choices that are available to you, help you overcome your fears, and reclaim the courage you need to live your life from a space of love.




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Shanti OConnor
Shanti OConnor
Shanti is a mama of two, a counselor, past life hypnotherapist, energy healer, and nature lover. Before kids she spent her time exploring the world and nature. After having kids she spends her time exploring her inner life. She is intrigued by who people are and why they do what they do.