As part of my ongoing professional development I’ve enrolled on the Positive Intelligence coach programme. The training is about the mind – how it can be our worst enemy and our best friend, and how to conquer the saboteurs inside our minds.
The focus of the programme is to rewire the brain by becoming aware of the root cause, then forming new, positive habits to have better responses.
I’m learning about making positive changes, building stronger and healthier habits and making those sustainable. I like that the training has a scientific/biological perspective behind it – practicing good habits frequently strengthens neural pathways so the habits we wish to maintain get stronger through consistent daily practice.
This really resonates with me as it has parallels with building muscular strength by lifting weights in a gym. In essence, we have to put in some hard work to make gains.
How we sabotage ourselves and our life
Sabotaging can be subtle and hard to recognise, and therefore challenging to stop. Sabotaging is a way we damage ourselves, or cause disruption in the life we want to lead. Often it’s so embedded in our way of being (likely present since childhood as a form of self-protection) that we don’t even know we’re doing it. We might have an insight into a behaviour that doesn’t serve us, but then have no follow through to make a change for the better. Positive habits aren’t practiced regularly therefore don’t get built into our natural behaviour. Resolutions are given up on quickly. Time is focused on being there for other people, to the detriment of our own well-being.
I’ve met my Master Saboteur – The Judge
The Judge affects everyone. This is the voice inside your head that criticises you, others and the circumstances you find yourself in. It’s the internal nagging about what might go wrong, the worry when you can’t sleep.
The Judge is the universal Saboteur that everyone encounters. It is the one that beats you up repeatedly over mistakes or shortcomings, warns you obsessively about future risks, wakes you up in the middle of the night worrying, gets you fixated on what is wrong with others or your life, etc. Your Judge activates your other Saboteurs, is very negative, causes much of your stress and unhappiness, reduces your effectiveness, and harms your relationships.
Introducing the Accomplice Saboteurs
Alongside the Judge are nine accomplices: Avoider, Controller, Hyper-Achiever, Hyper-Rational, Hyper-Vigilant, Pleaser, Restless, Stickler, Victim. We all have a few of these that are dominant. Two that I see coming up in coaching sessions a lot are the Avoider and the Pleaser.
For the Avoider, characteristics manifest as dodging difficult and unpleasant situations perhaps at the cost of showing authentic behaviour – leading to a lack of trust. Pleasers put the needs of others ahead of their own, look for acceptance and affection by helping others then becoming resentful as a result. I’m still learning about all these saboteurs, but plenty of what I have read is familiar.
Working out if the Saboteurs are good for me
It can feel like the saboteurs are a good thing. For example, the Pleaser will justify their behaviour claiming it as altruistic – for the benefit of others, helping selflessly and not expecting anything in return. But resentment builds, the impact being their own self-care suffers, others become dependent on them rather than learning to be independent and take care of themselves. The underlying assumptions are that, as a Pleaser, you must put other’s needs ahead of your own, and you must give love/attention in order to receive any back – “I must earn the love and am not simply worthy of it”. This really isn’t good in the long term.
Overcome Saboteurs through Mental Fitness Training
To achieve lasting change and build up good habits requires you to first become aware of the thoughts and behaviours which derail, and then install positive thoughts to counteract them. Practicing regularly to overcome the ways you sabotage yourself allows lasting change and over time the negative will be quietened. But, just like going to the gym – if you only go sporadically, it will always feel hard and you won’t see any significant progress.
Curious to know more? I’d love to chat about this with you so please get in touch if you wish to explore your saboteurs and how to overcome them.
Adopting better habits and thought patterns can help us accomplish far more than we feel is possible. Coaching conversations are an opportunity to learn about yourself and your experiences. You have the space and time to explore what keeps you stuck, unfulfilled and not living aligned to your values. If this sounds like something you’d like to look into take a look at the Services I offer or get in touch to arrange an initial free and informal chat.