Beware The Great Trickster

Beware The Great Trickster

Beware The Great Trickster

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal the Great Trickster and the link to temptation and fear.

First a quick update:

“Getting what you want”
“What is that you want that you don’t yet have?” That’s the first question I ask every new client. Here is the way to get what you want. 

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Now, let’s talk about the Great Trickster and the link to temptation and fear.

Possibly you have seen this TV cartoon or something similar – Homer Simpson is facing a dilemma – he has a tough decision before him (usually it’s the temptation of food) and he is being coached by two opposing forces – the angel on his right and the devil on his left.

On a grander scale, it’s a timeless theme in literature, comics, TV shows and movies – the eternal battle between good and evil that each one of us faces as an individual.

The most common representation of this is the small angel on one shoulder and the small devil on the other shoulder – each one encouraging the person to take an opposing action.

The angel represents our conscience and morality; the devil represents temptation.

Think of the old superstition to throw salt over one’s left shoulder for good luck and to ward off evil: the intention is that the salt blinds or knocks the devil off one’s shoulder.

Christopher Marlowe in his play “Doctor Faustus”, in 1604, introduces a good angel and an evil angel.

Good Angel: Sweet Faustus, think of heaven and heavenly things.
Evil Angel: No, Faustus: think of honour and of wealth.

While religious literature often portrays this as the battle for our soul between God and Satan the devil, Sigmund Freud explained it from another perspective with his theory of Id, Ego, and Superego.

The Id is recognized as “the reservoir of our most primitive impulses, a seething cauldron of desires that provides the driving force much of our behavior.”

The Ego, or boss, is recognized as “the boss of the personality, its principal decision maker.”

The Superego is recognized as our sense of morality.

Thus the Id is the devil who is pushing us to give into temptation and desire, and the Superego is our conscience. The Ego is that part of ourselves that will weigh all the outcomes and make the final decision. We could argue that the Ego represents free will.

Whether or not we choose to believe in the devil or some other evil force, we do all have impulses to give into pleasure – to give into the instant gratification. Our impulses are thus, often driven by selfish desire.

On the other hand (or shoulder) we have the call to consider the consequences of our actions and to consider other people. Our conscience is our morality and guilt; guilt is our response to the way we have hurt someone else based on our actions.

People who experience addiction often hear the voice that says “Screw it. Just do it. It will be fun and will feel good.” Of course, people who undergo extreme stress over a long period of time will also lose the ability to control their impulses. This is the result of the shrinking of brain cells in the prefrontal cortex.  Click to read more.

So how does this relate to The Great Trickster?

Many cultures have stories and folk tales of the trickster – that character who will fool, humiliate or ultimately trick the central character into doing something that is actually not good for him/her.

It is easy to argue that the devil or the call to give into temptation is The Great Trickster since he/it fools us into doing something that will ultimately hurt or damage us.

However, there is another element to The Great Trickster – a part that is not directly connected to the brain as much as it is connected to the mind.

The Great Trickster is also the part of us that represents our fear and self-doubt. Unlike the portrayal of the devil who tells us we can do anything we want and it will be great for us, this is the part of us that tells us the opposite – we can’t do anything and we will fail anyway.

There are two forms of fear – physical and psychological fear.

Physical fear is driven by the fight or flight response. “The Antidote to Fear” and  “Stress and Sex Hormones and Dangers to Cortisol”.

Although, psychological fear might trigger a fight or flight response, it is actually a learned response. For example, we are not born with the fear of the IRS (tax collectors) – we have to know what that is and then form a fear of it.

Many of our fears have been developed, cultivated or programmed by experiences which have resulted in pain and/or by things we were told. (Fear can be viewed as the anticipation of pain, set in the future.)

Thus the voice of The Great Trickster – the voice that limits, shrinks and paralyses you – is often the voice of a parent.

Listen carefully to the exact words and message of The Great Trickster and then seek out the origin. Does the message contain the same words, phrases, judgments, criticisms or warnings that your parents said and used with you?

Does it represent the same fear that either of your parents possessed themselves or passed onto you?

Does it contain the same dominant emotions and thoughts that either of your parents possessed themselves or passed onto you?

The voice of the Great Trickster will consist primarily of three things:



Criticism and judgment

Taming The Great Trickster

Notice I used the word taming. The intention here is to help you focus on lowering, softening and thus, silencing the voice of The Great Trickster, step by step. If I were to simply say eradicate the voice, it would be natural for many people to respond with feelings of failure because it does involve work and skill to lessen and lessen the power and the voice of The Great Trickster.

“The separation of talent and skill is one of the most misunderstood concepts for people who are trying to excel, who have dreams to do things. Talent you have naturally; skill is only developed by hours and hours and hours of beating on your craft.” – Will Smith

Step 1
Write out the phrases of the voice of The Great Trickster.

Step 2
Write out who used those words before you i.e. where did you learn those words and phrases?

Step 3
Repeat Steps 1 and 2 for emotions and thoughts i.e. what are the emotions and thoughts associated with this voice, and, to whom do those thoughts and emotions actually belong? Hint: mom, dad, sibling or a teacher.

Step 4
Focus on understanding that the voice, words, emotions and thoughts of The Great Trickster do not belong to you; they belong to the Instigator or originator of those words, emotions and thoughts. Again, hint: mom, dad, sibling or a teacher

Step 5
When in the midst of the voice and push by The Great Trickster, stand back, observe the thoughts and emotions, and remind yourself they do not belong to you. In other words, by observing the thoughts and emotions, they have less power over you and you can respond with “That’s mom’s voice and her words, not mine.”

“I’ve never viewed myself as particularly talented. Where I excel is with a ridiculous, sickening work ethic. While the other guy is sleeping, I am working.” – Will Smith

It does take work i.e. practice to soften and weaken the voice and power of The Great Trickster. And if you need help in achieving that and experiencing power and emotional freedom, consider a one-on-one session with me.

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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2 replies
  1. Avatar
    Erol Fox says:

    Ah, a great reminder of the visual of the angel and devil on the shoulder mate.

    Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) adds an interesting nuance to exploring the “structure” of this experience. We tend to find that our devil (fear-based critic) is heard in one ear (shoulder) and the angel in the other ear. Might be fun for readers to see if they have this experience. then we can compare the voices more.

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