(No, not that!)
In Greek mythology, the Harpies are monstrous creatures, part woman part bird.
Just like the storms they personify, these creatures are fearsome and aggressive.
They’re sometimes referred to as the ‘Hounds of Zeus’, punishing those who have been out of line according to the direction of the big boss.
They swoop down to steal, scatter and spoil the food of mortals. Making a complete mess and leaving their victims terribly hungry and deeply disturbed.
[To keep it LinkedIn-appropriate, I’m skipping the part about them sometimes devouring their victims.]
Mythologically-speaking, it’s important to turn these stories inside out and see them playing out inside a single psyche. That is, if we want to truly understand their usefulness in our modern lives.
The Harpies can be thought of as a psychological apparatus for self-sabotage.
Killing off our creative ideas before they even see the light of day.
Smashing or dreams after branding them “stupid”.
Cursing our talents and rendering them lame.
Muddying the clear waters of curiosity, so that only bleak possibilities bubble up.
…it’s a kind of self-flagellation that many of us mere mortals succumb to. Silently. Pleasant smiles on the outside, perhaps. But inside, the winds howl.
The first thing to recognise here is that we are all the characters in the story. We’re the Victim. The “Divine" God. The Destroyer.
This goes way beyond simply having an 'inner critic that needs to be silenced', in my opinion.
But what is all this complexity in service of?
Well, that’s the most fascinating part. The whole dynamic is usually—in a backward, dysfunctional, but perfectly understandable once you uncover it kind-of-way—trying to help you.
Yes, strange, I know. But I’ve found this to be true in every client I have supported in my practice over the last 5 years where the Harpies have shown up (which is frequent).
Harpies are terribly misunderstood.
Have you got a Harpy problem? If so, don't fret. It really does seem to be part of the human condition, and there is much you can do.
My advice? Sort them out while they’re still small, train them well. They can become much more challenging to catch and attenuate once they’ve grown to full size.
But it is possible, and I’m happy to talk about how I can help.
And remember, you’re not ‘not enough’.