We all have it. It’s the part that makes you get in your own way. Sometimes again, and again, and again.
That known or unknown impulse inside that derails you when you get close to reaching a goal. It stops you from putting your intentions into action. It’s the part that’s afraid of change and the unknown.
It’s easier to see it in someone else than in yourself.
Constantly getting into the wrong relationships, making bad money decisions, eating those doughnuts in the break room, hitting the snooze button too many times….
It never makes sense to us when we see someone else act on the impulses of the inner saboteur, and because it’s such a familiar companion, we make excuses for our own.
“Our inner beliefs trigger failure before it happens. They sabotage lasting change by canceling its possibility. We employ these beliefs as articles of faith to justify our inaction and then wish away the result.” — Marshall Goldsmith
It shows up as self sabotage but it’s really self protection.
self sabotage=self protection
When the inner saboteur is in full operation, it feels like it would rather see you fail than succeed, and shrink instead of grow. In its worst form, it’s punishing.
That can really hurt. It feels like the universe is conspiring against you, but it’s not. It’s worse. You’re conspiring against yourself.
At least that’s what it feels like, but in reality the inner saboteur is trying to protect you from the pain it thinks you’re setting yourself up to feel.
See, it’s afraid because it’s comparing a future possibility to your past. The saboteur sees pain in the future, so it wants to keep you stuck in the familiar.
The saboteur is afraid of pain, and it will do anything, and I mean anything, to avoid it.
Something in the past set the inner saboteur on high alert. Maybe you took a risk and it didn’t go well. Maybe someone broke your heart. Maybe your parents taught you the world’s a scary place or that you’re not good enough.
However it started, the saboteur took on the job of making sure those scary and painful things won’t happen again.
It can show up as a migraine headache just before a crucial interview or presentation, lost paperwork you need for your business, an alarm that somehow didn’t go off….
That tricky fella will cause you to act like a jerk in front of important people, lie in bed half the day, and miss deadlines.
It’s an inner feeling that one more drink, or one more pill, or one more piece of cake is no big deal.
The catch is, you’re already living in the pain the saboteur is trying to avoid.
You’re feeling that pain right now. It’s just that it’s as familiar as an old pair of shoes, and you don’t know what to do about it.
Did love hurt you in the past, and left you feeling alone? Your saboteur will put up walls so no one can get in like that again. Now you live in a constant state of loneliness.
Afraid to take a risk and reach for that promotion because you don’t want to be disappointed if you don’t get it? You’re living in constant disappointment now in your go nowhere job.
It’s time to flush that thing out.
What change do you resist the most?
What we most fear and resist is usually a key ingredient we need to fulfill a purposeful and empowered life.
Are you afraid of being alone? Going broke? Being vulnerable? Winning? Losing? Being seen? Being ignored?
Take some time to really think about this. If you have a close and trusted friend, you can ask them their thoughts on this question (but be willing to humbly hear their answer, and don’t argue or deny it).
I know, even thinking about it can feel scary. But that’s the only way to take away the power of the inner saboteur.
Now you can slay it.
You slay it by naming it. Labeling it. Saying it out loud.
The fear that caused you to not face it fed the saboteur. Fear made it stronger and gave it power.
“Call him Voldemort, Harry. Always use the proper name for things. Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.” — Dumbledore to Harry Potter in the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
Say the fear out loud and the saboteur deflates. It no longer controls you.
You’ve shined a light on it, and it’s been exposed as a fraud.
Don’t beat yourself up over it.
Remember what I said at the beginning.
We all have an inner saboteur. And even though it acts like a jerk, it was really trying to protect you.
So thank it. Thank it for doing its best to take care of you. Tell it you appreciate it being on guard for you, but now it can step back.
Assert your dominance, and let it know kindly but firmly that you’ll listen to its concerns, but it’s not longer in charge.
From now on, when you sense it trying to get in the way, have a little conversation. Listen to its concerns, thank it, then make your empowered choice.
Thanks for reading, you may also like this related piece by my colleague Reed Rawlings.
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