The Complex corner


  Situated in the north east corner of village is a very interesting area. It's different from the other parts of the village in the number of ways because the characters who live there are also different. They may well be opposites of other characters in the rest of the village, but as well they are different in other ways.

Let’s take a look at some stories that illustrate complex characters at work in different inner villages. You’ll see for example:

Clamps – characters that close off growth or change, because they predict that the result would only be increased pain, loss, grief or anguish. "In the end, it wouldn’t work." Some of their forecasts could be correct, but they also block us from considering positive opportunities because they involve too many changes.

George and Mary get an attack of the clamps

George and Mary have only recently started going out together so they are still going through some of the earlier "getting to know you" stages. Nevertheless, things are beginning to look as though it could turn out to be a really good long-term relationship.

However the better things get, the more doubts George starts to have within himself about whether it will last. So when he is talking to Mary about the possibility of a future together, George tends to focus more and talk more about "what could go wrong". This in turn starts Mary worrying and so she backs off a little, telling herself, "it would be very easy to get hurt if I let myself get too close to George."

Instead of George and Mary concentrating on the positive aspects of their new relationship like two grown-ups, a couple of their complex villagers seem to be busy putting clamps on things.

Meanwhile George isn’t getting any closer to resolving his hidden vulnerability, which is directly related to his belief of "not being good enough." His C character knows all about this however, and is worried about Mary discovering the awful truth.

Mary isn’t getting any closer to her hidden vulnerability either. Hers is connected to a deeply hidden or "core" belief within her that she is also "not good enough".

Notice that on both sides the clamp people are villagers keeping their eye out for "signs that the other person might hurt us" which leads on to "what must we do to protect ourselves from that person?"

As long as their clamp characters remain in charge, neither George or Mary will get any closer to working on their own negative beliefs about their not being good enough. (Beliefs by the way which are not at all accurate).

Protecting George and Mary from such beliefs is actually one of the main aims, if not the primary purpose of their two complex clamp characters.

Helen’s story

Helen has a rather moody boss. From one-day do the next she can never be sure of the best way to handle him.

Thanks to the constant work by one of her most active A type villagers, Helen, by nature is inclined to be very open, honest and blunt in dealing with people and problems. Some days her boss actually seems to appreciate this. These are the times when the boss's active A (also a straight talker) likes to go head-to-head with Helen's A. After a bit of blunt talking both of them know just where they stand on the issue, and with each other. Points of conflict between them soon get sorted out.

There are other days when the boss seems relaxed and light-hearted. Nothing is a problem. Those days, Helen and her boss discuss issues over a cup of coffee and the boss gives her the go-ahead so she can get on with implementing the solution. Helen like those days the best.

Helen has been doing self-awareness work for some time now, so she can soon see when there has been a switch in the boss's inner village. As soon as she notices the boss has switched over to an easygoing B type it's easy for her to make the same switch to her relaxed B too. The interaction between two of them is quite different, from when the two Active villagers were going head-to-head. There is virtually no conflict and the problems still seem to get solved.

But some mornings Helen' s boss is irritable and authoritarian. Instead of being either straight talking or relaxed the boss's language is wordy, formal and bureaucratic. He will say things like ‘I have no authority’ ‘I’m not allowed to do that’ ‘It’s against policy’ or ‘It’s a computer problem and I can’t do anything about it.’ This disempowers both the boss and Helen, at the same time. But it doesn’t take Helen long to work out what is going on.

Helen calls this third villager the boss’s "Cryptic clamp" because it’s hard to understand and clamping is what it seems to be doing to her and to him too. (Helen finds alphabetic reminders help her self-awareness so she reckons it's handy that the name begins with "C").

Much as Helen would like to get a straight answer when she asks the help with a problem, she understands that it is not going to happen when the clamp is in charge. She understands that her boss just has a different kind of Inner villager running things. This character is far more cryptic and complex and whatever its reasons for stopping Helen getting jobs done or solving problems they are well concealed.

However, C types are not trouble-makers. It's more that when they are trying to provide their kind of protection for the vulnerable inner child they get things mixed up and sometimes do more harm than good. Not that they intended to, but that is how it turns out.

These villagers are of special interest to me probably because I have had so much trouble with them both the ones within me and in people around me. When you are doing self-awareness work, you need to pay special attention to the complex C type of villager. This is particularly important, if they are clamping or blocking your progress towards self-awareness.

Signs that complex villagers are at work

There are some clear pointers that tell you if a complex C type inner villager has taken over or feels that it is ‘in charge’ of the village. The signs are much the same whether you are noticing your own, or someone else’s inner villager. Although the examples are about spoken interactions, you could observe the same pointers if you were reading an e-mail, or a letter the complex villager helped write.

1. Are the behaviour patterns (physical or emotional) or even some spoken words, repetitive? Does the same pattern occur regularly?

Complex characters have difficulty varying their patterns. Most tend operate automatically and very rapidly. Being specialists they have a very limited range of response or reactions to events. So they react in much the same way even in different situations.

2. Is the outcome, the result of this repetitive pattern, "self defeating". That is does it make it more difficult for the person to make the changes they want to make, to solve problems or increase their self-awareness?

These two characteristics together are significant. They tell you that one or more complex villagers are in charge at this time. Psychologists describe this combination in an interesting way. They call it a "repetitive pattern of self-defeating behaviour".

  • If the individual’s behaviour includes a high level of intensity or confusion that helps block them from making changes of solving problems, then is this a regularly repeated pattern?
  • If the individual’s blocking behaviour includes a noticeably low level of intensity (tired, bored or depressed) then is this a regularly repeated pattern?
  • If an inner villager appears to be trying to clamp or block something which could be of benefit to this person then is this a regularly repeated pattern?

If you notice this pattern, it’s a sign that a complex character is hard at work in the village.

Once you notice this happening, it's important to do something about it. Otherwise they just continue repeating the same pattern and this stops you making positive changes in your life.

3. The explanation put forward for "not doing" or "not changing" sounds deceptively rational, and quite sound. The rationale may be almost seductive in its logic. Yet, somehow an observer from outside the village will be left with the feeling that somehow the argument doesn’t quite "stack up".

This is perhaps the most significant pointer of all, telling you that a complex villager is in control and is blocking a change. It also tells that:

  • The real reason for blocking change is being well hidden and for a good reason.
  • The real reason has something to do with hidden vulnerability (a deep seated fear or negative core belief)
  • The stated reason may be intended to get you as far away as possible from the real reason.

See also The troublesome ten percent (10 February 1996 - - 2010)

  Most new postings about this alternative approach are now found on the Growing Awareness 2005 website at

See also The troublesome ten percent (10 February 1996 - - 2010)

Feedback - please e-mail  me John Bligh Nutting -   at

Copyright © John Nutting 1996 - 2010  and   ©   GROWING AWARENESS   All rights reserved World Wide   LAST UPDATE 

"Timestamp" S-Type="EDITED" S-Format="%A, %d %B %Y %H:%M" startspan -->Sunday, 11 April 2010 11:15

"Timestamp" i-checksum="52956" endspan -->

Don't worry about these copyright notices at the foot of each page. It just means I want to hang on to legal ownership of what I write for use in future books.  Until that day, please feel free to copy and even adapt them for your own use and for friends as long as you acknowledge me as the author and owner of the copyright and you don't charge anyone for them. If you want to use them professionally or commercially (charge a fee for them) or for clients, each sheet you hand out must include full acknowledgment of copyright ownership as above and if  you are benefiting as a result, I would appreciate an appropriate sharing.


u-custom i-digits="6" i-image="4" PREVIEW="<strong> xxx;" zz="200" startspan -->Hit Counter

i-checksum="50738" endspan -->