Most of the times, we find it difficult to admit that we sabotage ourselves into failure. Oftentimes, what stops us from working on our goals is ourselves. We get in our own way as we give into our inner saboteurs that reside in our mind. And we end up self sabotaging our lives without actually realising that we are even doing so. These saboteurs stop us from leaving our comfort zones and moving toward achieving our authentic desires and goals.
Inner saboteurs generate self-sabotaging behaviours, thoughts, and actions that prevent us from improving and changing. We often get in touch with them because of the thought and the belief that we are not good enough in achieving things we want to. They in turn deliberately obstruct us from taking action. The truth is that the more we allow these saboteurs run our lives, the more we hold ourselves back from unlocking our full potential.
Self-sabotage is when we say we want something and then go about making sure it doesn’t happen. —Alyce Cornyn. SelbyTweet
The vicious cycle of your Inner Saboteur
We reach for our inner Saboteurs because of our need to stay in control. And we do so in order to cope or to save ourselves from real and imagined threats to our emotional and physical well-being as children. They however become our invisible inhabitants in our minds even after we grow up, triggering negative emotions.
Overtime they get rooted in our neural pathways and become a part of our personality. They set us up to believe something that may not actually be true. And when we give into their voices as the voices of trusted self, they create self-fulfilling prophecies.
Inner Saboteurs perpetuate a self-doubt cycle that lead you to act against your own best interests. Some of these saboteurs can actively steer you in wrong direction and make you see everything in negative light. As a consequence, you talk yourself out of something that could be good for your goal accomplishment.
They make you think and believe in the opposite approach that cheat you out of reaching your goals. Your saboteurs constantly reinforce the idea that you aren’t worthy and remind you of your shortcomings. This can happen either consciously or unconsciously.
When we believe that they are good for us, we don’t give ourselves the opportunity to prove them wrong. And as a result, our behaviours get rooted in counterproductive mindsets including negativity, disorganised thoughts, indecisiveness and negative self-talk. They amplify our insecurities, drain our motivation, enthusiasm and self-esteem.
Saboteurs that could be sabotaging your productivity
When you want to create positive change in your life, or to go after your most cherished goals, it is always helpful to be aware of what saboteurs are holding you back. Here are some of the saboteurs you can relate to according to life coach, and author of Personal Intelligence, Shirzad Chamine.
Understanding the different ways in which you are sabotaging yourself gives you better insight into your own self-sabotaging style. However, it is important to note that we won’t fall into just one category, but tend to have different forms of saboteurs depending on the situation.
The Judge is the master saboteur that acts as a self-protector. This is the inner voice that is highly critical of your every action, reminds of your past mistakes, and tells you that you are not good enough. It always warns you about future risks, and keeps you worried about things that could possibly go wrong in your life. This keeps you in a vicious cycle of blame, guilt, and causes you greater anxiety, and disappointment. You get overly fixated on what is wrong with others or your life.
The Avoider generally keeps you away from difficult and unpleasant tasks. This saboteur makes you escape from situations that cause you anxiety or those that take you out of your comfort zone. Doing so not only limits new opportunities, but also reinforces fear, anger and resentment for missed opportunities. This makes you use passive-aggressive strategies to avoid conflicts instead of directly expressing yourself.
The Controller is our inner control freak that wants to take charge and control every situation. This saboteur causes you to experience a great deal of anxiety when things are not going your way. Such behaviours leads to conflicts in your relationships where you come across as more intimidating. This not only limits your social engagement, but also makes you insensitive towards other’s feelings.
The Pleaser has an excessive need of pleasing, flattering and helping others to gain affection and acceptance. So this saboteur constantly tries to please others, and do things in order to earn their approval. The pleaser in you makes it difficult to say ‘no’, conflict-averse and less assertive. This invariably makes you grow resentful. You feel you are being taken for granted and losing sight of your own needs.
The Perfectionist has an ideal in mind for everything, and has an excessive need for order and a standard to meet. This creates all-or-nothing behaviour that leads to either avoidance or over indulgence. Perfectionist saboteur makes you anxious trying to achieve perfection in everything that you attempt. Though makes you organised and punctual, this also makes you turn highly critical of others often causing frustration and disappointment.
The Victim makes you suffer from martyr complex. The ‘poor me’ attitude of this saboteur makes you focus more on the negative and painful feelings. It is always complaining and seeking attention by establishing itself in victim’s role. This saboteur believes that sadness and sensitivity will earn you attention you deserve. You evade responsibility and accuse others when things go wrong.
The Hyper-Rational rationalises everything, including emotions and relationships. With hyper-rational, you come across as uncaring, arrogant. As a result, others may perceive you as distant and cold. Analysing everything only by facts and figures leaves no room for emotions and needs. This prevents you from making well informed decisions.
The Hyper-Achiever focuses only on achievement. This saboteur makes you dependent on constant self validation. You end up discounting your latest achievement quickly in wanting more. It makes you base your self worth on how much has been achieved, so you are always stressing for more. This leads to your workaholic tendencies, making you feel empty and depressed.
The Hyper-Vigilant creates continuous intense anxiety about all that possibly could go wrong. This saboteur causes a vicious cycle of compulsive thinking about future scenarios. It creates constant self-doubt, over focuses on the negative, and sets up a self-fulfilling prophecy. With this saboteur you end up going in circles without a solution, and second guess everything including your choices and decisions.
The Restless is rarely content and is always searching for greater excitement. This creates an inherent need to keep yourself busy at all times and leads to fear of missing out. The restless saboteur is often the source of your impatience. This makes you avoid here and nor and you are never at peace with your present moment.
How to overcome your inner saboteurs
When your self-sabotaging patterns go unchecked and unchallenged, you remain tunnel-visioned and lose sight of what you are really after. You either avoid or make little to no effort in achieving your goals.
So the next step in weakening your inner saboteurs is to break their self sabotaging patterns. Here are some ways to take conscious control of your choices, decisions and actions.
Acknowledge your negative self-narratives.
Get to know what inner saboteurs are at work. Observe your inner voice, the pattern and the ways of thinking that shows up for you. Label your thoughts in the moment and give them names. Accept and acknowledge your negative self-narratives. Interpreting them subjectively creates some space where you can see them as outside of yourself. This makes it easier to see for what it is.
Challenge negative self-talk
Instead of constantly looking for information that confirms your saboteur’s beliefs, shift your perspective. The best way to challenge them is to respond with opposite action. Remember that your thoughts are not facts and can always be changed. Try and discredit their lies and disagree with limiting beliefs. The idea here is to give yourself more evidence to how they are steering you in wrong direction. Ask yourself, Why do I believe this saboteur? Is this enabling me or holding me back? How is it helping me in the moment?
Reframe your sabotaging thought patters
Once you identify inner saboteur, find out what it is trying to protect you from. Is it protecting you from getting out of your comfort zones, or could it be telling you that you are vulnerable, or perhaps holding you back for the fear of criticism, failure or rejection. Once you get to know, you replace your negative self-talk, attitudes and behavioural patterns with empowering positive and learning-focused narratives instead.
Invite new thought narratives
Most of our self saboteurs give rise to limited perception of self. So the way to overcome is by exposing yourself to break through your self-centered thinking and view things as a whole without personal attachment to a single view point. Imagine yourself giving feedback and offering helpful solutions from a caring and unbiased perspective. Make your inner voice as one that provides helpful insights and solutions.
Take time to self-reflect
Mindfulness and other self-reflection practices provide an opportunity to overcome your inner saboteurs. If you find yourself aiming for perfection, reflect on being consistent. Reflecting on how exactly a particular saboteur is sabotaging your goal-directed behaviours leads you to what other choices you have. Look at the costs versus benefits of your inner critic on your goals and relationships. Reflecting on a more resourceful and practical way would help you work towards overcoming them further.
What inner saboteurs are keeping you from your goals?
How do they outmanoeuvre your attempts to change or improve?
What areas of your life you can improve by overcoming them?
Do you empathise, disagree or challenge your inner saboteurs?
What are some of your strategies to sabotage your inner saboteurs?
Your inner saboteurs are part of you and they routinely sabotage your goals, intentions and the true potential. Developing self awareness of your saboteurs can lead you to choose new ways to respond to self sabotaging patterns generated by them.
The next time you feel your inner saboteurs are taking over, consider following above strategies to stop letting these negative thought narratives rule your life. And remember that you always possess the capacity to change the sabotaging patterns of your inner saboteurs and don’t have to believe in their lies or limiting beliefs.