Making Friends with your Traitors

It seems strange to think that our traitors have a purpose other than to make our lives difficult. Strange, but true. And the purpose is generally a good one. Boil it down, and the traitor is here to protect us. Traitors are doing their best to protect us from pain that comes from feeling left out, less than, not enough, too this, not enough that; all of the stuff we humans worry about. They attempt to keep us from situations in which we will feel humiliated, rejected, or ignored.

That all sounds good, but the problem comes in when these traitor characters are keeping us so safe that they don't let us grow and stretch ourselves. They try to keep us in a small box. That box might have fit when we were kids, but now it is too constricting.

One way I think about these traitor characters and what their real purpose is has to do with what our deepest fears and concerns are. For instance, let's say you have a traitor character who gets you to turn your work in late, forget to do things you promised, and generally falls short of people's expectations. That doesn't sound like a character that is protecting you. Yet, if we ask that character what is behind those actions, the answer could be: “If they have lower expectations of me, then they won't give me more responsibility, and I'll save myself from messing up and failing.”

You might have a traitor character that always wants you to be perfect. As a result, you always do a great job, but you suffer in the process. The quality of your life suffers, and you don't spend the time you want with family and friends. If you ask this traitor character what is so important about being perfect, you might here something like: “If I do anything less than perfectly, I won't be satisfied, and the others, who expect me to do a good job, will be let down. If they are let down, they won't keep asking me to do this great stuff, and soon I'll end up with nothing. No work, no friends, and I won't have people's respect. That would be the worst. I'd feel like a failure.”

Even though these two traitor characters present as very different, they are both protecting you from failing or, at least, feeling like a failure.

Consider that everything we do is for a good reason for some character inside us. The secret is to find out what that good reason is. The practice this week addresses this.

Judith Bell, M.S., Master LHEP™

Judith Bell, M.S., Master LHEP™

Judith is the founder and president of Rewire Leadership Institute®. A master facilitator, consultant, teacher, and coach, she has created and facilitated personal growth, team development and organizational change seminars, coached executives and teams, facilitated strategic planning and high visibility meetings, and supported culture change for over four decades. Judith works with a diverse range of companies from government agencies, non-profit, Fortune Global 500, to small and mid-sized family owned businesses including such organizations as NASA, Seaflow, Total Oil, Restoration Hardware, San Antonio Water System, and Culver Company.

Superb at supporting individuals, pairs, and teams in developing the skills necessary to realize their full potential, Judith helps executives, managers, and staff gain the ability to respond flexibly and rapidly to their changing environment. Through extensive experience and research, she utilizes a number of different approaches including the FIRO theory, systems theory, cybernetics, neuroscience, cognitive, positive, and success psychology.

As one of the world’s leading experts on the FIRO theory, she trains consultants internationally. A consultant’s consultant, Judith mentors facilitators, coaches, therapists and other professionals in the integration of the FIRO theory in their work. From 1981 until 2004, she worked closely with Dr. Will Schutz, the creator of FIRO theory. Independently, Judith developed FIRO Theory Profiling, which has been lauded as the first innovation in the FIRO theory instruments aside from Dr. Schutz’ own developments. She continues to develop courses that synthesize her studies and experience and are based in FIRO theory.

Starting in her teenage years, Judith has been a pioneer in her passion for authenticity, clear communication, and positive change. She is lauded for her ability to see others’ potential and help them realize it—be they individuals, pairs, teams, or organizations. Judith’s zest for life, appreciation for others, and generosity of spirit inspires those with whom she works.

An honor’s student at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Judith’s desire and passion to learn about authenticity motivated her to move her studies to The Institute for Creative and Artistic Development (ICAD) in Oakland, California. As the youngest student in their teacher training program, she created and graduated with an undergraduate degree that focused on authenticity through California State University, Sonoma. Continuing on her quest to study authenticity and creativity, Judith began taking courses at California State University, Hayward where she also created and graduated with a unique Master’s degree that focused on communication, transformation, and the creative arts.

Interested in systems and change, Judith began experimenting with her innovative action-oriented approach to assess and intervene with families, groups, and organizations. Through this work, she became a much sought-after instructor, training masters and doctoral students in her seminal work. As chair of a psychology program focused on Creative Arts Therapies at Antioch University, San Francisco, she developed curriculum and continued to serve as guest faculty and lecturer at universities nationwide.

In addition to leading Rewire Leadership, Judith and her husband, Daniel Ellenberg, co-founded Relationships That Work®, where she serves as Vice President. She and Daniel co-authored Lovers for Life: Creating Lasting Passion, Trust, and True Partnership, which applies the principles of Rewire Leadership Institute® to romantic relationships. Recently, they co-authored a chapter in Mastering the Art of Success: Volume 8. With Matt White, Judith recently co-authored Leading with Courage.

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