Cathy Broome writes:
I’ve always been a fan of Doctor Who. It’s one of those shows which sparks lots of inspiration for me, as well as being entertaining. That and he wears great coats!
It struck me recently that Dr Who is a bit like a coach and the ‘enemies’ of Dr Who are a bit like the parts of ourselves which hamper our progress, or stop us from having success in our lives. And because I do love stories, myths and archetypes, I thought it would be fun to write about it!
One of the most famous enemies of Dr Who is of course the Daleks who will stop at nothing to destroy anything and anyone they consider to be inferior to them, which is everyone except Daleks. “Exterminate” is their eternal cry.
To me, this is like our own inner saboteur, the part of us which is the superior predator for whom nothing is ever good enough; the perfectionist who wants to destroy everything, including our willingness to even try, because nothing we produce can ever be good enough for it. Steven Pressfield talks about this wonderfully in his book The War of Art. To him, the only way to combat it is to keep getting up and doing things anyway. To develop the discipline or habit of creating every day so that the saboteur is, inevitably still there, but not allowed to be in charge.
I would agree with this, though I think it can also be helpful to explore that voice if it holds very strong power over us, which is why I do the work I do and why the Personal Transformation Intensive and the Life Talent Programme are so powerful for people because we work directly with what stops you and what you want instead. When we are (re)discovering ourselves, our passions and strengths, it is important to explore, just as children do when they are learning. Restoring one’s sense of play, or experience, imagination and delight, is a potent and incredibly effectual thing to do to combat the inner saboteur or perfectionist.
Another regular opponent of Dr Who is the Cybermen. I think I find these the most frightening because they touch on one of my own deepest wounds which is around the deadening of the self, the removal of individuality and in particular the removal of emotion. Like the Daleks, they too wish to attain perfection and order, and to achieve progress at any price and do so by favouring the brain, doing and action over being, feeling and compassion. There is no integration of mind, body, spirit and emotion (one of my great passions), there is only the over-ruling of the body and feeling by the mind and force. Unlike the Daleks, they don’t simply kill you, they take away all the parts of you which make you so beautifully human – all those wonderful feelings and imperfections – and turn you into a machine the same as all the other Cybermen.
In one episode, the way Dr Who defeated the Cybermen was to make them realise what had happened to them. He was deeply upset at how cruel this was to do but in order to save the rest of humanity he did it anyway. The realisation of what had happened to them sent the Cybermen into despair and madness at what they had lost and it destroyed them.
In terms of our own lives, all too often we live at the expense of our own bodies, feelings and of course our environment because our society is still in the habit of favouring logic, the rational, and progress at any price over the body, emotion and what is sustainable, individually and globally. It certainly does not need to destroy us to realise this, in fact quite the opposite! When we become aware of the fact that we are not living from our hearts, when we understand there is something vital missing from our lives, the things which give us most meaning – our passions, instincts, lust for life and love – then we can begin to recover those. It’s one of my greatest joys as a coach to help someone rediscover these aspects of themselves and to see the difference it makes to them.
A more recent addition to the Doctor’s list of deadly adversaries is the Weeping Angels: very scary! When you are looking at them, Weeping Angels are made of stone, so seem to be harmless. But when you turn your back, they move faster than you can think. You don’t see them coming and if you so much as blink, they’ve got you. And as soon as they touch you, you are zapped back into the past, alone and with no idea what has just happened. They let you live to death but living in another time and place – living someone else’s life instead of the one you were meant to have. And the Angels live off the potential energy left behind by the life you might have had had you not encountered them.
How many of us have lived parts of, or our whole lives, doing something because someone else wanted us to? Huge numbers of us! All too often we do what our parents want us to do, what society deems is the ‘right thing’, or have a picture of success in our minds which is not our own and so spend our lives doing, not what we want to do, not what we are passionate about but what we have been unwittingly ‘zapped’ into.
What if you could tap into all of that potential energy that the Angels live on and instead of giving it away, have it for yourself, for your own life, to create a life which has meaning and success to you? Well, that is infinitely possible! Start now. What are you passionate about? What do you love and long for? How can you bring more of it into your life?
A one-off enemy the Doctor faced was an Absorbaloff (!) which absorbed all the life from what it touched. I mention this because I think it is like a career or life which has no meaning but is a ‘hamster on a wheel’ existence for the sake of it. It ties in with the Weeping Angels because all of the energy for life is sucked out of you – though in this case it kills you. One of the top five regrets of the dying is that they wish they had lived a life true to themselves, instead of the life others expected of them, and another is regretting “spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence”*. Personally, I’d really rather not have these regrets which is why I work on what I love. It’s totally in my hands, and it is in yours too.
The final opponent I’d like to talk about is The Master, who is also a Time Lord and is a mirror for Dr Who, in many ways his most arrogant, powerful, insidious enemy who tries to destroy what is most important to the Doctor – and also wants the Doctor to look on, helpless to stop him. This is like the part of us which is incredibly magnificent but gets channelled into destructive behaviour or something wilfully meaningless, or the part which, when we get to a point of creating something of value in our lives, will come up with something, subtle or large, to distract, ruin or destroy what we are trying to create. This is the place of our own blind spots and is the most confronting of all the ‘enemies’ because it is what is inside ourselves, not something which comes from without. We all have a side to us which is potentially difficult, hostile, defensive, aggressive, afraid, wanting to play small, feels both inferior and superior and so on. It is by having greater awareness of that part of ourselves that helps us navigate our lives with more ease because we understand when we are acting from that place rather than our best selves. And we can again learn from Dr Who in this case, as when The Master had committed atrocious acts, Dr Who stopped him but did so with love, and connected with his ‘frenemy’ with compassion and forgiveness: the only thing I have ever found which helps that behaviour to change.
And so at last to the coach himself, Dr Who! One of the most instantly recognisable things about him is that he has a time machine which means the people who travel with him get to explore the past and future. At Life Talent, we too help people create positive visions of their future, even to literally step onto the timeline of their life and create a vision of purpose, meaning and success. We also look at the past when it holds the key to some present difficulty, is stopping someone move forward into their future with confidence, or when it contains a potential source of energy and power which is needed to support that positive future vision.
Dr Who also has wisdom, intelligence and experience, thinks on his feet, might have a plan but will improvise depending on circumstances, and encourages anyone he meets to be magnificent. He is totally unapologetic about, unafraid to be and unashamed to call himself totally fantastic which gives absolute permission to those around him to be the same. What an amazing role model! He does not pretend to be perfect or a guru, but is flawed, real, and, in spite of being an alien, is incredibly human. And, he regenerates instead of dying which means his face changes, so in a way it doesn’t really matter who (Who) he is, it is what he represents which is important, which is encouraging others to be their best selves. Yes, he swoops in and helps people to save the day, but the point is he helps people to save themselves from what is plaguing them – whether that be the inner saboteur, the dominance of the rational over the heart, or the living of a life without really living it. And he does this by helping people have experiences which show them that they too are already brilliant, they just need to realise and act on it.
I love this about being a coach. And it reminds me of one of my favourite quotes: “True teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their own.”**
I always wanted to be Dr Who. It appears that doing the work I love brings me about as close to that ambition as I’m likely to get. How fantastic!
*The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, Bronnie Ware
** Nikos Kazantzakis, poet, writer & philosopher (1883-1957)