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How to Recognize Soul Spark Stompers

Soul sparks are necessary elements in any life. They deliver inspired directions in our lives and relationships. What we do with our soul sparks is up to us, but some around us try to stomp them out. They are the soul spark stompers.

Many years ago, I read a book by M. Scott Peck. If you remember him, you probably recall the book The Road Less Traveled. He wrote another book entitled People of the Lie, and it is here in which he defines what evil means.

“In The Road Less Traveled I defined evil ‘as the exercise of political power – that is, the imposition of one’s will upon others by overt or covert coercion – in order to avoid … spiritual growth’ (p. 279). In other words, the evil attack others instead of facing their own failures. Spiritual growth requires the acknowledgement of one’s need to grow. If we cannot make that acknowledgement, we have no option except to attempt to eradicate the evidence of our imperfection.” (People of the Lie, p. 74)

Soul Spark StompersEvil people purposefully hold others back, stunting their growth and human potential. If they cannot acknowledge the need to grow, then they must prevent others from growing. I remember People of the Lie opening my eyes to this angle, and it is one of those books that I really need to read again.

Taking this and putting it in my terms, these people are the soul spark stompers, and there are at least six different types.

1. Napoleon. It is not about size; it does relate to a leadership style though. While a person may be big or small in stature, their leadership style is tiny in approach. They may have the title or the position, but they do not necessarily use it to help others. In fact, while they may pretend to support you, their actions will likely hold you back or constantly correct you when you don’t need correcting.

Napoleon-type people are caught up in their titles or wrapped up in their position and hold others down in order to preserve their self-image of being “tall” in their position. They act like they have all the answers yet are ineffective in building teams and achieving real results. Napoleon soul spark stompers create an environment that wears people out to their very core. And, in many ways, this makes them feel satisfied, feeding their complex.

2. Magicians. “I am right there with you.” And, then, that is the last you hear or see them. They pretend to be there for you, yet disappear when you need their helping hand or guiding voice the most. It is false, non-present support. It isn’t about over-relying on people; it is about getting their support when you need it most.

3. Head-Messer (i.e., passive-aggressive). Words are spoken that leave open spaces and feelings of not living up to whatever expectation the other person has set. The actions of the head-messer are counter to the words they speak; their actions do speak louder, though, in with what they are really feeling inside.

It is a dangerous combination of “being” there for you in hollow sentences of support or encouragement yet taking real counter actions or doing things that show their real resentment to what you are trying to do. These people keep you guessing or questioning yourself, wearing you out from focusing on the meaningful work that really needs to be done.

In many ways, this type of soul spark stomper may be the most dangerous and can appear in places closet to you. They may be the toughest to work through or around.

4. Headmaster. Headmasters are the people who are always better than everyone else. They view people as being “stupid” or “followers.” “How could anyone be better than me?” is their constant thought. It results in having a view that they are the only “right” ones, and everyone else should take their lead. They may pretend to listen to you, but their sole objective is to advance their own thoughts, actions, and goals. Most often this is done at your expense.

5. Diggers. These are people who need to get their little “digs” at you as often as they can. It is an effort to kill your soul through a million paper cuts. The little comments or remarks may make you feel that something isn’t right in your life, that you are not “good enough” to do what needs to be done.

People who constantly take their vague and not-so-vague shots at you are working to bring you down a notch or two; it makes them feel better.

6.  Gatekeepers. A gatekeeper’s life may not have turned out as they had wished, so they don’t want anyone else to live a more meaningful one. Gatekeepers don’t want you to learn more, gain more, or live more fully than what they have obtained. By holding others back, they feel more comfortable with their own life’s results, since they are keeping others behind them.

Preventing others from realizing their potential may falsely raise gatekeeper’s up, but it is only in their own mind.

So, what’s the point? The point in all of this is that there are evil people in the world. They are the soul spark stompers. And, you have a choice in how to deal with them. Your choice comes in how you answer the following two questions.

  • First, how do you deal with the soul spark stompers? We have a choice on whether or not we listen and stay or ignore and disassociate. We may have the option to move away and leave. Depending on the relationship – work to family, it may take time and tough decisions to do this, but our meaningful life goals and actions may depend on it.
  • Second, who do you want to associate yourself with? We can choose our friends and co-workers. Family members present another set of challenges. Ultimately, if change is impossible, then deciding who to listen to and spend time with is ours. It may not be an easy choice, but our meaningful life goals and actions may depend on it.

The crux of it seems to come down to this: Do we want to placate the people who are stopping us, or do we want to set our life free from the “stompers”? Do we want to get caught in meaningless traps of others, or do we want to engage with those who lift all spirits up positively?

We need to recognize the motives of people around us. For the stompers and the evil ones, we need to move away from them. We cannot afford to get caught in their traps. Even more important, we should not use others as an excuse for not pursuing our soul sparks. We can maneuver, choose, and move forward. No one said it was going to be easy!

Let your soul guide your work. Continue to position yourself to gain the spark that may ignite your life to its full potential.

I wish the world was a perfect place in which all people could live their life in a spirited, meaningful way, but this in unrealistic. We need to keep our eyes wide open; our ears clear to hear; our mind engaged completely; and our hands working to live fully.

Good people are around, so find them and surround yourself in their spirit.

Have you encountered any soul spark stompers in your work, relationships, or personal initiatives? How have you worked through them? Please share your insights in the comments section below.

Jon Mertz

Jon Mertz

Jon Mertz is one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business and is a leadership populist, writing to empower Millennial leaders. When we share experiences rather than focus on differences, we realize a thin difference between two generations and a vast opportunity exists to create a big leadership story.
Jon Mertz
Jon Mertz

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  • http://twitter.com/Inspir3You Tracy Morrow

    I love this article. You have clearly articulated each different type of soul spark stomper.  I used to refer to them as “soul crushers” but I like your terminology better!  Many soul spark stompers can be very hard to identify because they are very well versed in coming across as if they have your best interest in mind!

    • Anonymous

      Thank you, Tracy! Appreciate your comments and insights. I agree that it is challenging to spot the soul spark stompers at times. Spending the time to think about what they are really doing will help… looking at their choices and actions will always speak the loudest on their intentions. Jon

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