Killer: person, animal, or thing that has killed, kills or is potentially able to kill.

Within the self-empowerment approach, killers are personal characteristics that may constitute a limitation under certain circumstances. There are three types of killers:

  • fears, doubts or blocking uncertainties (what if I fail? Will I make it if things get complicated?);
  • limiting certainties about oneself (I will not make it, I could never…those things do not interest me, this is not like me) or about the outside world (these things ain’t possible, others never help you…);
  • flaws and automatisms (for example insecurity, arrogance, hypercriticism, impatience) that lead you to always react in the same – often dysfunctional – way in difficult times.

Killers block you or make it difficult to exit your comfort zone, they hinder change, evolution and new possibilities. They also kill desires and prevent thinking while cannibalizing resources. Sometimes they do it explicitly, other times they act sneakily.
Killers are tiring but they are yours, they have developed as adaptive responses and, most of all, they are alive, lively and contribute to make you unique and, when acknowledged, even more true to yourself. It would be impossible, worrisome and even risky to get even with the killer, trying to kill it. Metaphorically, the killer is a hole between yourself and your development goal, hindering your qualitative leap.

The empowerment approach does not aim to fill up the hole (time passes by and opportunities do not wait for you), but rather to make it anyway in spite of the hole. This is a part of yourself you should get to know (when does it come along? What does it make you do?) and learn to talk to. This is what we do in our workshops.

We give it a name (acceptance), we allow ourselves to examine in what ways it is limiting and hindering us (venting), but we also acknowledge it has been useful as it, at least partly, contributed to make us what we are (gratitude).
This stance will allow you to make a new agreement with your killer, letting it express itself while at the same time “managing” it in those moments when you are trying to accomplish something important for you.
Among the strategies to handle it are alliances with people who support you.

Now, here’s a little reflection for you. First of all, try to identify your killer: a dysfunctional behavior, a flaw, or even an awkward attempt, stemming from a fear or from a lack of awareness, to handle a difficult situation. If nothing comes to your mind, I ask you to choose one from this list based on Hogan’s studies on personality:

  • Crossness: being moody, volatile, having excessive reactions, being afraid of criticism, being emotional
  • Skepticism: being cynical, defensive, having back thoughts and low trust towards others
  • Hesitation: playing the waiting game, being afraid of daring and of making mistakes, showing no initiative, avoid innovation
  • Closure: not being communicative, showing no interest towards others’ emotions, being cold and distant
  • Disregard: being passive-aggressive, being selfish, showing no interest for feedback
  • Cockiness: Being excessively full or confident of oneself, underestimating others
  • Cunning: being apparently friendly while actually being impulsive, manipulative and exploiting others
  • Expressiveness: overreacting, asking for constant attention, being easily distracted
  • Originality: being creative but also outlandish, not being practical, lacking awareness, being easily bored
  • Scrupulousness: being meticulous, perfectionist, not being flexible with regards to rules or agreements
  • Obedience: trying to gain other people’s favor, not being independent, avoiding decisions and not being capable of saying “no”

Now that you chose a killer from this “fascinating” list (be aware: if you believe you don’t have any of these killers perhaps you are cheating yourself…), imagine you could write a letter to this flaw of yours. Start your letter with “Dear killer…” and address it directly answering the following points:

  1. Allow your anger to flow: imagine your killer is in a cage while you are outside and can tell it how much you hate it, how many problems it caused over the years, how much harm it did to you and those around you and how many opportunities it made you miss. Do not try to be polite, rather be direct, even harsh if you wish…”Dear killer, I hate you because…”
  2. Now take a step back and change your perspective: imagine you killer is facing you, even though at a distance, and try to recall all the times it helped you, it allowed you to solve problems or accomplish goals… “However, on second thought, sometimes you have been useful…for example when…”
  3. Now change your perspective again and imagine you are next to you killer and as powerful as it is, imagine you two are on equal footing and you can make a deal. Give it space when it is useful or when potential damages are not irreversible but agree with your killer it will stay away from you when the stakes are high… “Dear killer, from now on we could agree on acting this way…”
Want to discover the Empowerment Alphabet?