Starring Melissa McCarthy (Diana)
and Jason Bateman (Sandy)
Spoiler alert – only read this once you have watched the film
You might be surprised to see me recommend this film – most of the movies I suggest have a clear and often inspirational but challenging message. They certainly make you think.
Identity Thief, on the other hand, is about as deep as a paddling pool.
But stick with me here.
I must admit I watched it as an easy, end-of-tiring-day film. But within about three seconds it was clear to me that Diana (McCarthy) is a walking personification of our good friend, Sabotage You.
Well, sort of.
Hollywood has demanded the story fit certain specifications that are NOT what Sabotage You would do, and I’ll be clear about that in this article.
So let’s dive in.
How is Diana like Sabotage You?
1 She can only ruin Sandy’s life because he allows it. She doesn’t break in to his home and steal his credit cards. She simply rings him up and (stretching credibility a bit, thank you Hollywood) without batting an eyelid, he hands her all the details she needs to steal his identity.
2 She looks harmless at first glance (silly drunken woman in garish prints) but she is far more dangerous than she looks. I have experienced the hell my sabotage self will put me through enough times to respect her craftiness and ability to get under my radar.
3 She has an uncanny ability to walk away from fatal car crashes with hardly a scratch while big tough gangsters/bounty hunters lose consciousness and/or get hauled off by the cops (she does too, but escapes – always). Put aside the Hollywood cartoonish-ness of this for a second and appreciate the metaphor. Sabotage You is a survivor. You can have an amazing victory over her/him (you bring your chaotic eating down by 50% using one of the pause button strategies, do the presentation without being sick, you manage breakfast finally, you make it to the singles night) then a few days later you undo all your good work with a junk food feast or call in sick the first day of the new job or stand up a really nice guy you met at the singles’ night.
It’s back to square one, you think.
NO IT IS NOT.
This is why it’s so important to integrate this part of you. S/he will always be in your head – the work is acknowledging and overriding her. There’s no point trying to force Diana to come in to the police station and no point squashing Sabotage You. Instead you stand up to them, feel her/his wrath and prove to her you can survive that fatal first date/job promotion/healthy breakfast. THEN s/he will start to quieten down, just like Diana gives herself up at the end of the film.
4 The only way for Sandy to stop Diana ruling his life is by taking the road trip with her, getting to know and understand her. He actually likes her by the end of the film. The only way for you to stop your sabotage self ruling YOUR life is do the same – get to know him. Take an inner road trip with her.
5 The ending is a beautiful metaphor for how we should be in relation to our Sabotage Self. Diana is hemmed in, with hardly any power – and Sandy has made his peace with her.
How Is Diana Different From Sabotage You?
1 She goes through a kind of linear change from walking catastrophe to actually helping Sandy by turning herself in at the end. This is to conform to the Hollywood story machine that demands people change for the better in a nice easy two hour time slot. Your Sabotage Self is far more chaotic than Sandy in how s/he changes as you acknowledge and overrule her. Remember what I just said earlier about the great victory followed by the oh-so-familiar rerun of self sabotage a week later? Expect one step forwards , two steps back to be the order of the day for a while. Then one day you look back on your journal from three months ago and see just how far you have come.
2 Diana acts independently of Sandy. She has her own hopes and fears, back story etc. Not so for Sabotage You. EVERYTHING s/he does is for your good – as s/he sees it. There is no way on earth that your Sabotage Self would ever hand herself in – or maybe she would…what do you think? He just gets quieter, in my experience. Realises he has less to do.
These are my thoughts, based on my experience. Do you agree ? Where have I got it wrong ? All that matters is that you illuminate your own understanding of this part of you.