Ep. 142: Your Wild Mind – The North + Protectors

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This week, I’m going to be referencing one of my fave models of the human psyche, proposed by Bill Plotkin. It’s really good medicine for many of the individual and societal challenges we are undergoing. 


In his book, Wild Mind: A Field Guide to the Human Psyche, Bill describes a nature-based map of the human psyche, using it to emphasize what can be right about us humans and where we can go wrong. Its basic premise is that our minds have amazing resources, untapped potential, and limitless depth – the extent of which we may not even be aware of.  Those “potentials” of our psyche are called the four facets of the self, the four dimensions of our innate home wholeness. 


Our innate Buddha nature, as I see it. 


Healing involves incorporating all parts of ourselves again. The goal in this work with our Wild Mind is to fully integrate all aspects of us – the whole of our multifaceted minds – and commit ourselves to our purpose so we can better serve our people. This helps us feel fulfilled, purposeful, and have a deep sense of belonging. 


The approach that’s used here incorporates the cardinal directions: North, South, East, and West. Each has various qualities similar to those found in nature relating to these directions (and I’ve found they also correlate to elements we see in Classical Chinese Medicine and other constitutional and elemental-based traditions like Ayurveda). 


I can’t cover all the facets in one pod, so this week, we’re going to start with the North. It’s described as the Nurturing Generative Adult. Examples of this are how you felt when you’ve cared for someone close to you (a parent, a pet, a kid, yourself). You might have noticed how good it felt to do so, and what an honor it was to do it. 


It also relates to when you feel satisfaction from bringing something from an idea to reality – an inspiration into a piece of art, a song, a book, a poem, an invention… 


It also means taking care of the things around you instead of disregarding and disrespecting them. We tap into our inherent wisdom, and cultivate discernment to accompany this wholeheartedness.  Being a grown-ass adult. 


When we are in conscious awareness of our Nurturing Adult, we’re able to accept things about other people and do a whole lot less judging. We’re less attached to things. We’ve created conditions for ourselves – and others – to heal, change, and mature. 


The integrated North is amazing, and I could go on and on about it, but what about when we’re out of whack? I know most of us want to know how to fix it when shit ain’t right. 


The way the wounded Nother shows up can be described in a few subpersonalities that create a false sense of safety and belonging. 


One way is our Inner Critic: How we shit-talk, shame, doubt, and talk down to ourselves from something we might want to take a risk for, closing us off to our greater possibilities and capacities. This is the most common one I see people asking about in coaching. 


We also might be encouraged to forego our dreams and needs to be useful to others – perhaps while also having power over them (people pleasers, enablers, co-dependent relationships etc). We may do our best to be indispensable to someone because we secretly fear that no one else would want to be with us.  


There are many subpersonalities, and you can listent to the pod for more, but those two are some of the more common ones we dive into. 


All of these subs serve the purpose of keeping us safe – protecting us. Bill calls them the Loyal Soldiers. What they all have in common is to get us to act small, either by not expressing ourselves fully, or not embodying our potential, so that we have a sense of security and belonging in the world… even if we never actually feel like we belong. Their intention is good, and we have a false sense of security and safety, but at the expense of an authentic life. 


Most subpersonalities form in early childhood in response to physical, psychological, or social woundings. They exist to minimize the chance of more pain and suffering, but at a certain point in our personal development, their strategies get in the way of our growth way more than they provide a true sense of safety and belonging. 


Whatever the strategy, the Loyal Soldier’s adamant about this: if you’re forced to choose, it’s better to be suppressed or inauthentic than kicked out of the community or emotionally devastated. Because what we think that would really feel like is death. 


Our truest Self knows there are options – for me I sought out therapy and coaching and this work with Bill and other Soul work – but when we’re stuck in the wounded North, we might see only options like extreme buffering, or addiction or suicide, which is, in essence, turning the pain onto ourselves. 


So how can we cultivate a healthy relationship with this aspect of ourselves? We can start by connecting with our Loyal Soldiers. You’ll hear the story of the Loyal Soldiers of Japan in the podcast, but we follow the same path that worked so well for them 


// We thank our Loyal Soldiers for their service. Maybe write a letter or recall all the specific incidents when they saved us.  

// Then, after thanking them and helping them feel loved and appreciated, we can also remind them that the war is over – AND that we have more resources now than we did “back then.” 


// Finally, we can give them another job. Perhaps we can call into awareness the ways they can apply discernment and protect us from real threats like potentially abusive partners and manipulative or toxic work environments. This piece is important because they are a part of us and won’t just disappear. 


// We can also get important support from the facet of the Self in the opposite direction of the sub in question). In this case, it would be the South… but you’ll have to check out next week’s episode to learn more there!  


In this episode you’ll learn: 


// What it means to embody our Wild Mind and welcome ALL parts of our complex being (even the parts we don’t like as much) 

// What it looks like when our “North” is balanced… and when we’re out of whack 

// What our “Loyal Soldiers” are and how to integrate them in a healthy way 

// How we can cultivate genuine safety and a sense of belonging instead of the false sense that keeps us playing small 



// Episode 68: Integrity – Living Your Truth 


// Episode 82: How to Live in Polarity 


// Episode 139: Nature and Reconnecting 


// Wild Mind, by Bill Plotkin 


// If you’re new to the squad, grab the Rebel Buddhist Toolkit I created at RebelBuddhist.com. It has all you need to start creating a life of more freedom, adventure, and purpose. You’ll also get access to the Rebel Buddhist private group, and tune in every Wednesday as I go live with new inspiration and topics. 


// Cultivating our connection to our true selves and finding wholeness within us and in nature  is a key part of the Adventure Mastermind. If you want to dive into this work in this container, learn more and apply at AdventureMastermind.com. There’s ONE SPOT LEFT, and our next cohort starts at the end of February! 


// Want something more self-paced with access to weekly group support? Check out Freedom School – the community for ALL things related to freedom, inside and out. Learn more at JoinFreedomSchool.com. I can’t wait to see you there!