“So what – we all die anyway! … What’s the Point?”
Core Fear: Losing Control
Strategy: According to you, life is painful, and there is nothing you can do to change
that. The only thing you can do is control the pain by being the abuser of yourself. If you leave it to someone else, they can kill you. However, if you hurt yourself, you can pull back from the edge. Life makes no sense to you: “What is the point?”
Power Game: You do not respect structures or boundaries of others, because you have none of your own. You therefore violate other people’s boundaries, and can be quite invasive. People feel afraid around you, not only of you, but also for you. You like this effect you have. You force people who care about you to take responsibility for your actions and life, because it is obvious that you do not value your own life, and have little sense of responsibility.
Key Problem: You need meaning in life. You need to find out what it means to you.
Body Impact: Your tendency to push things to the edge can be very damaging to your physical body, including alcohol, drugs, risky activities, or hanging around dangerous people who can hurt you.
Outcome: Eventually, you do lose control, and lose everything in the process. In extreme cases (not always), this can include losing your life.
Development & Decisions – Various Ways:
The development of this Shadow centers around ABUSE and ABANDONMENT of you, by
someone important, such as your mother or father.
The aspects regarding abandonment are discussed in detail in the Greed Shadow.
Please read the section entitled “Development & Decisions – Various Ways” , then return to this point in the discussion again.
As with the abandonment, there are a few crucial issues to understand about the abuse aspect:
- It could have been Physical Abuse;
- Mother or Father literally beating you up, starving you, locking you up.
- Rape, incest, torture, molestation
- It could be Emotional Abuse:
- Mother or Father verbally abuses you, criticizes you, scares you, no matter what you do or say.
- Sexual tension or innuendoes that are inappropriate between an adult and child.
- In some cases, this Shadow develops due to traumatic experiences in the military or police setting, and in the witnessing or horrendous human suffering.
The most important aspect of this Shadow is the effect that this abuse had at that point in time. Where there should have been structure and order (eg, “This is good, and this is Bad. If I do this, I get rewarded, but if I do that, I get punished”), this did not occur: The abuse made no sense at all – there were no rules – no way to predict it. Most importantly, there was no way to control it either. This is why there is the absence of ‘meaning’ or structure in your life today.
When a child is abused for no rhyme or reason, the child is terrified, not only of being hurt, but more importantly, of being killed. This terror is very real. The only way that the child can think of to control what seems to be adults who are out of control, is to become more abusive of itself. This may sound strange, but it makes logical sense: “If I do not control this situation, I will get killed. I can control this if I take on the role of the abuser. I will hurt myself, which means that she/he doesn’t have to do it. At least I have some control this way”.
The following sequence of events usually occurs:
“I am alone and the world is scary. I am to small to fix this”.
“No-one is in control. No-one is in charge. There is no structure. I am abandoned”.
My caregivers are abusive and out of control. I am not in control because I can’t stop them’.
“The world is a hostile place”.
“My parents are out of control. I am out of control. My life is threatened”.
“I must be in control at all times. I must prove to myself that I have this control. I will control the abuse”.
Consequences in Adulthood
The consequence is a sense of deep despair about the meaning of life, or understanding what the rules are, and what the point is of all of it.
This Shadow shares the addictive quality with the Greed Shadow. These two shadows are intimately connected. Eg, Self destructors often cannot control their urges for food, alcohol, drugs, power or sex. These wild excesses are distractions from the deep inner despair. Also, when you emerge from a self-destructive spree, and the feelings of despair lift for a while, you become very greedy for life and life activities. This is healthier, but may lead to loss of control again, and another cycle of self-destruction. This is the binge – despair cycle.
The big lie of this Shadow is that external control is the answer to all problems. This is false: You cannot substitute for internal structure and control, and an internal sense of meaning and confidence.
Health: Disastrous on health. Excesses and addictions destroy the body.
Creativity: The energy of destruction and creativity are two sides of the same coin. To put the first brush-stroke on canvas, to create something new, is also an act of destroying the white blankness of the canvas. Creative expression entails walking a fine line between destruction and creation. Artistic expression requires emotional support from others, to prevent self-destruction of the artist.
Presence: When you are fixated on maintaining control, you are not present. Also alcohol and drugs, and deep despair destroy any sense of presence, or present time awareness.
Relationships: You try to control your relationships, in order to control yourself. No-one likes being controlled, so she/he leaves. Also addictive behavior destroys relationships. The only people left are those that feed off you – taking what they can get before you self-destruct completely.
Spirituality: You may see religion as a set of rules that promise to control your out-of-control behavior. Either your self-destructiveness eventually leads to your expulsion from this group, or you destroy yourself for the sake of ‘salvation’. You may disguise self-destructiveness as spiritual purification.
How to Deal With the Self-Destruct Shadow
Your primary task is to establish your own sense of meaning and structure,
instead of trying to find it outside of yourself.
Oddly enough, although this Shadow is experienced and perceived as ‘really bad’, it’s resolution
is the simplest and easiest of all: You literally need to get some sense of meaning and structure
about your place in the world.
There are certain methods that help:
- Connect with people who value life. Sever connections with other self-destructive people.
- Admit you are out of control, and seek help. Get support.
- Establish and strive for realistic goals. Eliminate unrealistic goals, which are nothing more than attempts to control what cannot be controlled.
- Clean up the messes in your life.
- Admit and face the issue of abandonment and abuse.