Positive Intelligence: How to identify your saboteurs

Geoffrey Greer

Stop cutting your support.

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Drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt

Discovering how you are sabotaging yourself is the first step in unleashing your potential. No amount of training or work will get you where you want to go if you are limiting your greatest strengths.

In the book Positive Intelligence by Shirzad Chamine he identifies several saboteurs. Here are brief descriptions of some of them so that you can identify them and weaken them:

  • Judge: The Judge finds mistakes in what you have done and what others are doing. The Judge is a major source of regret. It's the saboteur who badgers you and says, "You should've known better. You should've made a better choice."
  • Stickler: A perfectionist. The Stickler tortures you when you are late for a meeting. It's the one that clings to being right. It's the one that says you always need to meet the highest standards.
  • Pleaser: The Pleaser wants you to be liked by everyone. It is the ultimate suck up. As a result, you lose sight of what you want.
  • Hyper-achiever: The Hyper-achiever moves from achievement to achievement and is never satisfied with sitting still. It's the saboteur that wants you to set goals and, as soon as you have met them, wants you to create a more ambitious set of goals.
  • Victim: The Victim draws attention to you by saying, "Woe is me." It's the one that says, "I am the unluckiest person in the world. Bad things always happen to me." In the most extreme cases, you may become physically sick as a result of playing the role of the Victim.
  • Hyper-vigilant: The Hyper-vigilant saboteur catastrophizes. It is always wondering, "What if something bad happens to me? What if I get fired? What if my partner cheats on me? What if I get in a car crash?" The Hyper-vigilant saboteur heightens anxiety.
  • Restless: The Restless saboteur always wants stimulation. It will not allow you to sit still. You cannot be at peace when this saboteur takes over.
  • Avoider: The Avoider saboteur runs away from anything negative. It's the one that tells your friend, "Yes, you got fired but you always hated that job anyway." The Avoider prevents you from confronting difficult situations.

Which of these saboteurs is running your life and preventing you from being as successful as you can be? The first step in reducing the influence of saboteurs on your life is to notice when they are active. Simply say to yourself, "I see that the Restless saboteur is running my life right now." Increasing your awareness of these saboteurs is the first step in freeing yourself from them.

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