How to make friends with your inner saboteur

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Do you find that certain habits and behaviors are hindering your goals? This could be your inner saboteur and it is time to take a stand

Our inner saboteur is the part of us that routinely sabotages our desires, good intentions, and the plans we make for success or a better life.

We may not immediately recognize that part of us – or even know it is there – but we can recognize the repetitive patterns of “failure” that we experience as we keep trying to achieve the things we want.

Here we will walk you through identifying and cutting out self-sabotaging behavior so you can begin to reach your full potential.

1. Recognize your inner saboteur

You really want to go to bed early, but you’re into a different box set. You want to start saving money but end up paying back for your friend when you’ve promised to stop. You find a job you’d like to do, but you postpone applying until it’s too late. You want to develop a closer relationship with your partner but continue to argue about the same things.

Sound familiar? All of these scenarios could be your inner saboteur at work trying to maintain your current identity and keep you away from something new and improved. It could come from a place of fear – maybe about the future and what that might bring – or from low self-esteem. Whatever it is, realizing it is the first step in tackling it.

2. Get to know it

To work with your own saboteur, list the circumstances under which he occurs. How does it sneakly try to outsmart your positive attempts at change? What are you doing instead In particular, when does it ruin your dreams and intentions? Are there some patterns you can find?

Next, check in with yourself. Think about whether you really want the change or whether your inner saboteur is actually trying to tell you something. Sometimes we want something because we think we should, or because someone else thinks it’s a good idea for us, and we’re stuck in philanthropic mode. Ask yourself why you want this change. What will it give you then And what does the change not mean for your life?


Illustrations by Rosan Mager

3. Accept that it is just trying to get its job done

Once you’ve recognized your Saboteur character and know that you definitely want to change, find out what to protect you from. Think of your inner saboteur as a job: to protect us from something that finds our current identities dangerous or frightening.

Change can be scary. Certain behaviors can tell you that you are feeling vulnerable – possibly to criticism, failure, or rejection. This doesn’t make self-sabotage any less frustrating, of course, but it does make you wonder if there is another level to what you are going through.

4. Create a new connection

By building new bridges and even making friends with your inner saboteur, you can always stop playing into his hands.

If you’ve taken the time to understand it, the next time it stirs – perhaps as the silence of an important meeting that you promised you would speak up, for example – how about you Catch it when you arrive, greet it warmly and thank it to protect you all these years and then gently say to it that you really want things to change from now on?

When we love that part of ourselves and sit with our fears, we leave room for a new and more nourishing relationship with our saboteur.

5. Maintain this relationship

Just as we know that continued kindness, listening, and doing our best to understand others in our relationships produce positive results, so does it for our internal saboteurs.

So many of us find it easy to react angry with ourselves when we believe that we have “failed” again in our attempts to change. However, internal judgments of sabotage do not respond well to bullying. They just want to be understood.

So if we can nurture this part of ourselves to be seen, heard, accepted and understood, it is much easier for the change and transformation we seek to automatically follow.

Sarah Thayer is a transformation coach who helps high performing individuals and organizations slow down, transform past patterns, and live more authentically. More information can be found in her profile or at

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