One of the places we, as the human race, seem to fall down regularly is around feeling authentically good in our lives. It’s not to say we feel bad all the time, although sometimes it feels like it. Instead, we all seem to have areas of our lives that can easily be described as being a struggle and often where pain and suffering are magnified. These tend to be the areas we quietly contend with while either putting on a happy face, carrying a bitter outlook, or somewhere in between. It doesn’t matter whether it’s with relationships, work, money, or just our take on ourselves, there is this nagging feeling that we’re stuck. It can feel like a minor irritation or something far stronger.
Devil inside, The devil inside
Every single one of us, The devil inside
Every single one of us, The devil inside
— Lyrics from Devil Inside by INXS
It’s in these areas that we have a tendency to feel powerless, and a victim of our surroundings, even if it's our inner surroundings. Somehow, primarily because we are embarrassed at how we might be perceived, we are desperately afraid of being seen by others the way we perceive ourselves. We have a tendency to feel like we are alone in our struggles, something no one could possibly understand.
And here lies the catch-22. If we don’t address how we’re feeling, or our issues directly, we suffer. We hope that no one will notice this area of our lives where we have now created additional problems and suffering through our attempts to mask these issues. What’s worse is often we don’t recognize that we are doing this. We have become oblivious to our own strategies for avoiding dealing with the problems at hand.
Meet the Protector
There is a part of our personality that generates and owns these thoughts. We call it the Protector, with a capital "P". Why? Because we need to understand how important this part of our personality is and how to partner with it.
It doesn’t want to be brought into the light, not itself or that which it has taken the mantle of protecting on our behalf. It is deathly afraid of exposing our shortcomings, and instead much prefers the dark, dank recesses of our mind to hide these issues. All the time, pretending that everything is “just fine”... or the worst it could possibly be. But it’s just not fine OR the worst it could be when we partner with it from an authentic place.
The Protector by any other name
All too often we hear about the ego being the enemy, the inner critic, the inner bully, or worst of all, the "pain body" as named by Eckhart Tolle. And right along with all those different names, we wonder what we can do to crush that part of us. Short answer? We shouldn't! We should partner with the part of us that is here solely, although often misguidedly, to protect us.
This Protector of ours is incredibly judgmental of that which it is threatened by. Ready to lash out at a moment’s notice to protect us from the cruel world it believes we live in. This is often disparagingly referred to as the "ego", however, it is important to recognize that this part of our personality’s core motivation is to keep us safe. To protect us from ourselves and the cruel version of the world it has created for us
What’s amazing about this part of our personality is how consistent it is across the human experience. In its quest to protect us by hiding issues and creating feelings of being alone, it creates exactly the conditions that prevent us from addressing the issues at hand. In addition, because of this universal behavior, we have a tendency to suffer in these areas rather than address them. In essence, this part of our personality would prefer to hide in ignorance rather than examine these areas out, in the light. This part of our personality, while doing its best to protect us from the darkness is also the part of our personality that creates the darkness. And there is the catch-22.
How do I deal with the Protector?
What is funny about our obsession with getting rid of this part of us, is that it is the Protector that is trying to save it from itself! Its "solutions" don't work, and in fact, strengthen it into more and more of a monster, the more we resist it.
Trying to eliminate the Protector is an impossibility. However, when we take care of it, hear what it has to say, listening for the value it brings, we find that it becomes far more content and less inclined to try and run the show. The relief this provides can be minor or huge, depending on the strength of the story we're working with.
As a matter of fact, for the problems we really struggle with, often our biggest challenge is getting its stories under control so we can get to the root issues. Just bringing the Protector's stories to a place that is closer to an authentic story can provide huge amounts of relief and a path to resolution
Partnering with the Protector
The real way to deal with the Protector is to partner with it. We need to be the airline counter agent to our Protector, giving it a full voice, letting it rant and rave until all the air has escaped from the balloon. Then, after hearing what it has to offer, moving on to an authentic place. It is so important to understand that the Protector really is here to keep us safe and it does have something to bring to the table. What is unfortunate about the Protector is it's solutions don't provide us any long-term relief from its own ill-conceived stories.
However, when give the Protector its full voice, when we honor it, we are able to let it stand down from its rickety soap box. It gets quieter but never goes away. However, what is left is what we need in our lives to help keep us safe and whole in the world.
Partner with your Protector. Give it a voice and the permission to rant, rave, and judge to its heart's content. Whether it is about you or a situation you're dealing with, let it have its unfettered say. Thank it and do your best to move to a more authentic place where you can move on.
The Protector is NOT your enemy!