Another journey around the sun in our magical spaceship of a planet is just beginning. With it arrives the perfect occasion to look at what we might want to create for ourselves and one another in the new year, as individuals and as a collective. Many of us have already explored or are in the process of exploring their goals and strategies for that. But have you ever taken a pause to check with WHO it is that is making those plans and strategies?
Enter the inner strategist
Whether we think of ourselves as good at strategising or not, the strategist is a part of each and every one of us. He or she is the one we rely upon whenever any kind of thinking ahead and finding the best path forward is involved. As any other archetype, it exists within us in its shadow and light aspects. The more awareness and intention we bring to our relationship with the strategist, the more we can expect for him or her to function in a healthy way. This essentially helps us ensure our success and the achievement of our goals. In this article, it is my intention to share some thoughts about that, so that we can achieve together more of the things that really matter as we journey into the new year.
The shadow sides of the strategist
Before speaking about the healthy strategist, it is important for us to look at the ways he or she might go into dysfunction. Why? Because anything that is not healthy and is not brought into awareness will keep working behind the scenes until we gather enough pain and/or courage to look at it and heal it. For each of us that ‘unhealthiness’ might would look differently, but will basically involve an exploration of the question:
In what way has the strategist within me created pain for me and others? What extra pain might I have created by trying to avoid that pain?
What’s the history of the development of your inner strategist? Some of us are lucky to have healthy models of that around us growing up, but most of us don’t and subconsciously pick up whatever is there. What models shaped your journey, what did you learn along it and where are you today with that part of yourself? Here are some examples that might give you a sense of that.
The disembodied strategist
The disembodied strategist is a shadow side of archetype that is created by a separation between mind and body/emotion. Because it is based in inner separation, it creates pain for self and other and is unsustainable in the long run. In my earlier career, I used to set goals and strategies for myself on a regular basis. I had long lists of tasks related to them and was super organised. However, these elaborate strategies that did not include a consideration of my actual embodied experience of life. I generated a lot of stress and pressure for myself trying to accomplish my goals. I got focused on small details and lost the big picture, not really achieving what I was after. This eventually led to the ‘death’ of the disembodied strategist, a complete refusal to function in this way moving forward. It was simply neither effective, nor enjoyable to keep going that way.
Unfortunately, this shadow side of the strategist archetype is very present in the collective and is causing massive pain not just to humanity and our planet, but to the people who embody it. The way to move through that, as individuals and as collective, is to learn to create goals that are centred in what we’d like to experience on an embodied and emotional level as we go about creating things in external reality. Questions that could be helpful for this include:
“What is it that I’d like to experience as I do this work? How could I create context for others to experience that with me? How do I ensure I come back and check if and how are we experiencing this as we move along?”
The rejected strategist
Another way in which the strategist can go into shadow is by being rejected (often as a result of being dysfunctional). For example, you might be saying to yourself that you are not good at strategising, that you don’t know how it works, that you prefer to go with the flow instead.Going with the flow, in fact, is a strategy in itself. It lies on the other side of the spectrum, as the opposite of the disembodied strategist. Unlike him, she focuses on the experience, allowing the body and emotion to point her the way, rejecting the mind, seeking pleasure and avoiding pain.
In my personal journey, as I found that the disembodied strategist wasn’t working, I went into going with the flow. What that led to was a high level of receptivity of life and opportunities coming my way that brought some wonderful things. But it also eventually put me out of alignment. I learned that if we don’t allow for our proactive goal-oriented side to help in creating the lives we want, while going where things are pleasant we will eventually be put in a place where we need to accept not so pleasant experiences. And that is simply because we are not allowing our wholeness and life has a way of gently nudging and eventually kicking our butts in the direction of wholeness. This is a pattern that is very common in spiritual communities and the early stages of the spiritual journey. If you find yourself in it, the way out is in exploring the healthy version of the strategist and inviting balance back in your being.
The healthy strategist
Oh balance. Oh oh oh balance. Ooooh balance.
Somewhere in the middle, between the extremes we explored above we will probably find the healthy strategist. It’s important to note she is also the one who has integrated both shadows and can reach for each side according to the context, but will not be defined by either. As usual, it is always a good idea to check with Nature and see what else she might have to say about it. Here are some questions and ideas to consider in that direction:
1. Is this reality the result of a strategy or randomness?
Philosophical question, I know, but very important. Popular culture has us oscillating between two options. One is religion/God, the ultimate designer and strategist of reality. The other one is science, according to which it is all unintentional and pretty random, just an infinite ongoing cause and effect. I recommend you go out in nature and sit with not knowing which one is true and just watch and see what answer comes up for you.
2. How do we know if reality is the result of strategy or randomness?
If you think about it, the good strategist is known by the outcomes of their strategy — what was achieved. Looking around what was achieved in nature, it is easy to see an amazing attention to detail and an amazing structure of patterns, processes and laws that allow reality to emerge as it is. To me they all seem very far from random, even if I am not a believer in God in the usual sense. In fact, they speak to me of an intelligence that is not smaller than ‘the pinnacle of human intellect’, but in fact much greater. We might be able to build spaceships, but whatever this intelligence is, has made us so we can make spaceships!
Is it a smaller feat to make a tree than it is to make a house? I’d say no. Is a strategy needed in order to make a tree? I’d say absolutely yes, even if this greater intelligence didn’t sit down and write it in their goals for 2021. It did it in its own way — by configuring a DNA and a process through which that DNA is transmitted and adjusted. Eventually, whatever intelligence and strategy we might embody is an expression of the intelligence and strategy of Nature. Acknowledging this is a key step to getting ourselves out of the mindset of separation, out of the shadow sides of the strategist, back into oneness and wholeness.
3. If we take good outcomes to be a sign of a good strategist, what can I learn about the healthy expression of the strategist from the outcomes I have achieved?
Bringing things down to the ground , the next step is to check what has worked for you, in your unique context and experience. What outcomes have you achieved with ease? How did you achieve them? What if that strategy is a sign of the way that whatever intelligence has created all of us wants you to play with and master? If we take that strategy as the way that works for you — how might it want to unfold and evolve into something even healthier and more effective? And how could you call in and replicate that healthy expression of the strategist in other situations when things haven’t worked so well for you?
The balance is dynamic
Hopefully, the above will give you some good food for thought in relation to your inner strategist, who has the power to make it or break it when it comes to realising the goals you set for yourself. There’s an important catch here — as we go about trying to find our balance, it is important to remember that it is dynamic. Different situations might ask us to shift more to one side or the other. Sometimes more of a mind-driven approach might be needed — you won’t tell your taxi driver to ‘go with the flow’. Sometimes that ‘go with the flow’ would be better — you won’t listen to music hurrying to get to the end of it. In a similar way, there will be different ‘bigger’ situations asking for different strategies. This is where it is actually super helpful if you have fallen into the shadow sides — now you know how they work and you can intentionally reach for them when needed.
Bringing awareness to the one who is thinking and planning ahead, the strategies that tend to work best for him and how they might want to be updated can go a long way in integrating the healthy version of the strategist. And then of course, last but not least, may the force be with you when it comes to implementing whatever plans and strategies you come up with! The world today more than ever needs more people like you intentionally driving things forward in healthy ways.
About Lessons in Paradise
I believe we already are in paradise, regardless of where we are and what’s going on in our lives. I believe life is a journey towards becoming aware of this and enjoying as much of it as we can in the limited amount of time we have here. The Lessons in Paradise vlog is the space where I share my process of shedding patterns and beliefs that obstruct our view in order to replace them with presence, joy and wonder. It’s also my invitation to you — an invitation to connect and journey together in creative ways, as we help each other see through to the greatest expression of ourselves. I also love creating spaces for growth-oriented people to align to their purpose. I do that in the form of coaching, shamanic work and group sessions in the Connection Playground community.