Your Mental Saboteurs & Dragons

Your Mental Saboteurs

In his New York Times bestselling book Positive Intelligence, Shirzad Chamine teaches us that we are daily influenced by mental negative “Saboteurs,” the negative, demeaning voices in our head that keep us from becoming our most creative, powerful, loving, compassionate, courageous selves for ourselves and others. You can take this Saboteurs Assessment to learn yours. 

Saboteur List:
  • The Judge (we all have this judgmental jerk)
  • The Controller (our need to control)
  • The Hyper-Achiever (we feel we must continuously prove our worth)
  • The Hyper-Rational (our focus on intellectualism over emotion)
  • The Hyper-Vigilant (our overriding anxiety)
  • The Pleaser (our need for approval)
  • The Restless (we’re addicted to the new and exciting)
  • The Stickler (our perfectionism)
  • The Victim (our martyr mindset)

Fortunately, we also have positive mental muscles (our Sage), which we can tap into to diminish our Saboteurs. The result? Our mind serves us in bringing our best selves to ourselves and others, rather than sabotaging us as we get triggered by unhealed wounds.

Let’s highlight the Judge, as we all have this pesky Saboteur.

The Judge continually finds faults with self, others, or circumstances. It creates much of our disappointment, anger, regret, guilt, shame, and anxiety. It tells us that we’re not enough — especially not enough to be loved or accepted as our authentic selves. The Judge empowers its position by activating the other Saboteurs that we’ve developed and strengthened. 

The Judge likes to make itself (I call mine “Her Jerkiness) seem needed and powerful — and even positions itself as our friend — by telling us these lies:

  • Without me pushing you, you’ll get lazy.
  • Without me punishing you for mistakes, you’ll repeat them.
  • Without me scaring you about negative future outcomes, you won’t work hard to prevent them.
  • Without me taking care of your self-interest, you’ll get taken advantage of.

We have to learn to recognize when our Judge is speaking this crud into our mind, so that we can tell it, “No, thanks” and jump into Sage mode. This takes practice, but it’s made a positive difference in my life, and the lives of many others.

One immediate tip I can give you: When your Judge whispers, “I blew it today. I suck!,” you can immediately diminish the Judge’s power by saying, “My JUDGE says that I blew it today, and that I suck.” As you call out and label your Judge, you gain emotional distance, which helps you to slip into compassionate Sage mode. Your Sage, for example, might suggest, “I didn’t bring my best today, but I AM capable of doing better, and I will try again.” Your Sage helps you to find the lesson in the event — so that you learn and grow — so that you ARE better prepared to bring your best next time. 

Your Emotional Dragons

I also want to highlight the work of Dr. Daniel G. Amen, who in his book Your Brain is Always Listening, teaches us to identify our emotional dragons. These “dragons” are an effective way to label areas of hurt in our lives, which we typically experienced during childhood. Until healed, they continue to influence our thoughts, beliefs, and actions, stressing us out and stealing our power and happiness. You can take Dr Amen’s Dragons quiz to learn yours.

Dragons List:

  • Wounded Dragons
  • Anxious Dragons
  • Hopeless or Helpless Dragons
  • Judgemental Dragons
  • Angry Dragons
  • Entitled Dragons
  • Inferior or Flawed Dragons
  • Abandoned, Insignificant, or Invisible Dragons
  • Should and Shaming Dragons
  • Grief and Loss Dragons
  • Ancestral Dragons
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