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How to Keep Going in the Face of Fear.

Learning to Work with your Inner Critic.

Me, quite literally facing my fear of heights after climbing to an epic lookout point in Boulder, CO.
Me, quite literally facing my fear of heights after climbing to an epic lookout point in Boulder, CO.

The Inner Critic. The Voice of Doubt. The Saboteur. The Ego.

It goes by many names, and we all suffer from it’s wrath.  For the purpose of this article, let’s stick with The Saboteur.

What on earth is a Saboteur?

Simply put, the Saboteur is that quiet (or loud) voice we all have in the back of our minds that tells us we’re not enough. We aren’t smart enough. We aren’t experienced enough. We could never succeed because of X, Y, and Z. It gives us all of the reasons in the world why we will fail and its job is to keep us right here. Stagnant. Crippled in fear. But “safe” in this little prison we’ve created for ourselves.

It’s a total drag, right?!

Good news — that voice? It can be tamed.  

We can break free. We can get intimately close with and aware of it, disarming its perceived power over us. We get to choose what we tune into.

We get to choose our perspective.

Here’s the thing. Humans have been equipped with a Saboteur since the beginning of time. Its job is entirely to keep us safe. The Saboteur came in really handy back in the olden days when cavemen had to venture out to hunt their next meal. Imagine that said caveman finds himself strolling along when he comes face to face with a Saber-toothed Tiger.

[Enter the caveman’s Saboteur]

“Run!”, it yells. “Get back to your cave!”. “Hide!”. “You will literally die if you don’t stay put!”.

Well done, Saboteur. Well done.

The Saboteur has now perfectly done its job by protecting its host (the caveman) and getting him to safety.

Here’s the thing — the Saboteur has not evolved over time. It still has the same intention (to keep us safe), and comes around at any sign of discomfort or resistance.

The Saboteur hasn’t evolved, but we have.

Now that we know a little bit about the Saboteur and its purpose, we can start to see when, where and why it’s showing up in our daily lives. Any time we are on the verge of doing something that’s outside of our comfort zones, our Saboteurs think that we are facing a life and death situation where they need to jump in, hijack our brains, and redirect us to safety. It simply does not know the difference.

But we do.

How can we quiet the chatter?

First, become intimately aware of what the Saboteur is saying. Sit down, really tune in to the times that the internal talk track becomes unbearable, and write it out. What specific things is the Saboteur saying?

Next, check in. What’s true about what the Saboteur is saying (if anything)? More importantly, what’s the lie? Check in with the facts. The facts combat these lies.

Now choose. There are two choices. Give into the Saboteur and do nothing. Admit defeat. Or, choose the new belief. Choose the truth. Say it over and over again. Write it down. Affirm it. Call B.S. on the lies the Saboteur is speaking, and claim the facts as the truth.

Finally, acknowledge and appreciate. After all, the Saboteur is part of us and we know it’s only trying to keep us safe. It doesn’t know any better. Thank the Saboteur for doing it’s job. Then politely ask it to go away. Choose to focus all that brilliant energy into what is the priority, the thing that is going to best serve you and others.

Easy, right? Kinda, sorta.

See, it’s going to come back. Over and over. At times it might feel like it’s every second of every day. Keep practicing the sequence above.

Contrary to popular belief, the fact that the Saboteur keeps showing up is a good sign and here’s where choosing a new perspective is priceless.

The louder the chatter from the Saboteur is, the closer we are to the verge of greatness. If the Saboteur is totally freaking out, this means we are onto something. We are breaking out of our comfort zones and on the path to something new and amazing. It actually means we are on the right track.

Think about it. If the Saboteur is totally absent and silent, we probably aren’t doing anything to push or grow ourselves. We are probably bored. Stale. Unfulfilled.

This is exactly why the Saboteur can also be a blessing. It’s all in the perspective we choose to see.  

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