Your saboteur (or inner critic) is what creates a story in your mind and then keeps you in that story, preventing you from moving forward. According to Merriam-Webster, to sabotage is: to destroy (something) or damage deliberately so that it does not work correctly or to cause the failure of (something) deliberately. Your saboteur can also be described as your negative ego. A few examples of what this voice inside you might say are: “You aren’t experienced enough for that position or role,” “You will never be the parent you should be,” “You’re a terrible friend,” or “Your opinion won’t matter to anyone.” The saboteur is really good at making up a story and then playing on repeat in the back of your mind. It’s what keeps you from putting yourself out there, trying new things, purposefully growing and taking risks. You know the old saying, “The bigger the risk, the bigger the reward.”? That’s also when the voice of the saboteur gets the loudest.
Mine was loudest when I likely appeared to be at my most successful to the outside world. My saboteur told me things like, “You can’t leave a leadership position at a Big 4 professional services firm to start your own coaching practice. People don’t know you as a life coach. You’ll be starting all over again.” Nevermind that I love connecting with people and having conversations about what truly matter to them. Nevermind that I have always been an excellent listener to both others and to my own intuition – two things that make a good coach great. Nevermind that people always viewed me as a really positive person, able to see the bright side in nearly any situation, or that I genuinely are happy seeing others meet their goals. Thankfully, I didn’t allow my saboteur to dictate and suffocate my dream. I had a vision and knew that coaching lit me up from the inside out. Despite what my saboteur told me over and over again in the months leading up to departing from my corporate safety net, I took a leap of faith. My gut told me I was on to something. And you know what, I did it and I’m getting paid to do what I love and living the life of my dreams.
Sometimes the saboteur is so subtle you don’t even realize it has shown up.
For example, when you are rushing around trying desperately to get the kids off to school in the morning. You might be telling yourself: “We cannot be late again. What kind of mother will they think I am if I cannot ever get my kids to school on time?” and then once getting them off to school… “I lost my patience again. Of course they don’t want to follow my instructions when I’m barking at them left and right. We could’ve made it into a game and things would’ve been so much easier and fun. We should be enjoying our mornings together! How impatient will I be with as they get older and push my buttons even more?” Does any of this sound familiar? This is a tricky, subtle way the saboteur, or negative ego can play at you from both sides making you feel small and powerless.
It can also come in the form of a superficial goal. “If I just made more money, then I’ll be happy.” “Once I find a partner, then I’ll feel complete.” Your saboteur tells you that you aren’t enough the way you are. You need to fill these holes within yourself in order to find peace. On the contrary. Once you fully accept yourself for who you are, you create inner peace, and only then will everything fall into place.
Pay attention to when you want something, but you are start making all kinds of excuses as to why it will never be. How is your saboteur showing up? What story is it telling you?
How do you know whether your saboteur is talking or your intuition? I can help you become aware of your saboteur and help you to recognize when it shows up and how to quiet the voice inside of you that wants to keep the status quo and holds you back from your brighter future self. Often when it gets loudest, you are on the verge of something really powerful and grand.
You can never actually eliminate the saboteur completely, so it will serve you to get really comfortable with it. When your saboteur shows up, it can be helpful to name it, journal about it, draw it, envision it – whatever works for you to bring your awareness to the fact that your saboteur isn’t the wisest part of you. The way I visualize mine is pictured above. I’ve come to know it well and actually beginning to appreciate it for the awareness offers me. When it shows up, I know there’s something I can explore for more personal growth. Getting to know your saboteur allows you to move past it more quickly when you hear those whispers of self-doubt. Once we can separate the voice of the saboteur from our intuition, we can make decisions from a more a grounded, centered place.