Every coaching school works with the concept of “Saboteurs,” although they may be called different things. Common terms are “Inner Critic,” “Gremlins” or “Limiting Beliefs.”
Call them what you may, Saboteurs are a juicy topic to discuss. Not only because they show up all the time when we’re working with our clients, but also because each of us has not one, not two, but a whole committee of Saboteurs—and when you step out of your comfort zone because you’re up to big things (like building your business), they will show up. I sometimes like to joke that if my Saboteurs show up around something I’m thinking about doing in my business, it means I’m up to something big and I’m on the right track!
In order for us to have the business and the life that we want, we need to learn to navigate these saboteur voices and reframe our relationship with them so they don’t stop us from doing the things we really want to do.
I’ve developed a tool that I use with my clients to help them navigate their Saboteurs when they show up. The idea is to find and shift to a more powerful perspective that includes what I call the “kernel of truth” that a Saboteur will inevitably share.
There is always a kernel of truth in your Saboteur’s message. If there weren’t, you wouldn’t be able to believe it. So the key is to hone in on what your Saboteur is telling you that is true and leave the rest behind. Here’s how it works:
First, understand their positive intent.
All our Saboteurs are well meaning. It just doesn’t land that way! A Saboteur will always appear for a reason and your job is to understand that reason without buying into the message hook, line and sinker.
When you spot a Saboteur, ask yourself: Why are they showing up? What are they trying to protect me from? How are they trying to help me?
Saboteurs are notorious for good intentions but poor strategy.
Secondly, hone in on the kernel of truth.
What is true about what your Saboteur is saying? This is important so that you can include that kernel of truth in your new perspective. It’s important to acknowledge your Saboteur for what is generally a valuable piece of information.
I even say, “Thank you, Saboteur, I know you mean well and what you’re really trying to tell me is [fill in the blank]. But I’m not going to buy into everything you’re saying here.”
Thirdly, choose a perspective that actually includes the kernel of truth.
Often you’ll find that the truth your Saboteur has to offer is valuable. Here’s an example: Let’s say you go to a party and there’s a buffet table full of desserts. Your Saboteur freaks out, telling you, “Don’t eat any of those because you’ll gain weight!”
The Saboteur’s positive intent is to help you feel healthy and happy. The kernel of truth is that over-eating a bunch of sweets won’t make you feel good and will adversely affect your health.
Understanding the positive intent and pinpointing the kernel of truth, you can create a new perspective that goes like this, “I’m just going to have one little treat but I’m not going to sample everything on the table. I’ll choose one treat that looks tastiest to me because that won’t have me gain weight or be unhappy.”
You can’t just say, “That’s bullshit, I won’t gain weight.” If you try and ignore the Saboteur, it will continue to show up. When you acknowledge and include the kernel of truth, you can stay anchored to your new perspective because that Saboteur feels honored.
This process is a tool I use all the time with my clients and myself. It’s important to acknowledge our Saboteurs rather than trying to belittle them, stuff them in the closet or tell them to pipe down because any time we try to put things into the shadow, they will show up (usually at the most inappropriate times) and take the wheel (so the next thing you know you’re taking a left instead of going right).
It’s important to acknowledge this and remember that our goal isn’t to eradicate Saboteurs because they are part of us. What we want to do is change our relationship with them by acknowledging them, finding the truth in their message and blending it into a “higher-self” perspective.
I encourage you to try this out the next time one of your Saboteur appears and gets you stuck or stops you from showing up in your business. Try this tool and see if it helps propel you forward, and then let me know how it goes!
Tara Butler Floch