We all have a saboteur, the invisible inhabitant of your mind which focuses on the negative and ignores the positive. The saboteur has also been referred to as your inner critic. It is how we engage with our saboteur that makes the difference. A saboteur is defined as a person who engages in sabotage. To self-sabotage it to create problems in our lives that interferes with our goals. Problems that may be procrastination, negative self-talk or self-medication with drugs, alcohol or comfort eating.
Your saboteur isn’t all bad. Majority of the time your saboteur is trying to protect you from a real or imagined threat to your physical and emotional survival. It begins in childhood and by the time we reach adulthood they are no longer serving us.
“Our Saboteurs’ patterns of thinking, feeling, and reacting become soft-coded in our brain through neural pathways. When these neural pathways are triggered, we are “hijacked” by our Saboteurs and feel, think, and act using their patterns.” - Shirzad Chamine
What is your saboteur afraid of happening? Sit with that question for a few minutes. And journal what comes up.
Since our saboteur is run by fear and guides your thoughts and actions, you can be consumed by the “what if”. Your saboteur is afraid of change. It believes that change is uncomfortable and there is comfort in self-sabotage. There is comfort in keeping you stuck. There is fear associated with your desired outcome. Because if I lose the weight, I may have to show up in your life in a different way. The fear of success is real. I’ve experienced it myself. Even Brene Brown quoted that “there is comfort in staying small”. That is there is comfort in remaining in your current patterns. To change is extremely uncomfortable because it is unknown.
I think it’s important to note that we don’t just sabotage with food. There are many instances in your life in which you may self-sabotage. It may be procrastination of applying for that job you want, criticizing yourself for something that you did or didn’t do, expecting perfection (we’re all human, it’s time to accept it). Self-sabotage really is any self-destructive habits, patterns or mindsets that are holding you back. Often it is our feeling of feeling unworthy or deserving of our desired goal that leads us to self-sabotage.
I believe the first step to changing your self-sabotaging behaviours is to identify the root cause. Why is this important? When you can identify that you are participating in self- sabotaging behaviour you can begin to change to the pattern! Awareness is always the first step. So, let’s get curious.
Ask yourself how are you criticizing yourself? Where does this negative self-talk come from? When you procrastinate, what is really going on? When you overeat, what part of that is comforting? What part of that is “safe”? What is your saboteur trying to accomplish?
How will your life be worse off when you reach your goal? I realize that at first, this question may sound ridiculous because of course, you want to reach your goal. But what is going to change? What are you scared of doing when you reach your goal? What excuses are you using about your current situation for not showing up in your life in a way that you truly desire?
The key is to get really super honest with yourself about what your fears are and understand why you’ve been shooting yourself in the foot, to begin with. I know I’ve had fears about losing weight because if I lost the weight I wouldn’t have an excuse to stay small in my career. Being overweight was my armour, it was my protection from the trauma I’d experienced and it was my armour for putting myself out there and being seen. I not only used food to cope with my emotions but to sabotage and protect myself.
Once we are able to identify the true reasons that are holding us back, we can counter them. We can begin to alter the beliefs that we hold that are holding us back.
You can challenge your fears. If you’re scared at failing and that is preventing you from even trying, you can witness your fear and surrender it. I’ve done it.
For each fear you have identified how can you counter it? Is