The irony of this in our everyday lives was not lost on me. When I work with clients either individually or as part of a team, or when I ponder my own life, often the biggest ‘enemy’ we have to overcome is the enemy that is residing right within ourselves. In a team environment, it is bad enough when the team feels attacked from outside. It is a far bigger problem when the team is being attacked from within. The same thing holds true for a family. The same thing holds true for each of us individually.
How often does it happen that we have a thought of something we might like to try, or a desire to change, and then before we can even take the first step, we have talked ourselves out of it? All by ourselves! We are quick to think up all of the ways that we might fail or why it’s a bad idea, and then we abandon the idea as if it had never appeared at all. I am a master at this! I not only think of reasons I should not try something but worse than that, I listen to myself. I believe this inner critic. And I give power to it. Meet my saboteur! My enemy within myself.
My saboteur is so clever, and has so cleverly disguised herself as my ally, that she can easily convince me that the safest thing to do is to ‘not rock the boat’. Her reasons are amazing and she knows me so well that she always proves to me that I will be going against my own values by trying this new thing. Last fall when I was newly ‘retired’ from teaching, I thought that I would love to join a line dancing group. That really awakened my saboteur. She reminded me that I was awaiting knee surgery so the timing might not be right. She reminded me that it would take me away from home (and I had retired to have more time at home). She reminded me that I didn’t know anyone in the group and so I would be the outsider. And guess what? No line dancing for me.
I now know how to recognize my saboteur. When I hear the words ‘should’ or ‘can’t’ inside my head, or when I get judgemental, I know that my saboteur is steering my ship. When I recognize her, I thank her for her concern and then send her away. Sometimes I even talk out loud to her, telling her that I’ve already thought up the negatives and that if she can help with the positives, she is welcome to stay – otherwise OUT!
This fall I started line dancing. I LOVE it. It is one of my favourite hours of the week. My saboteur never accompanies me.
I try not to imagine what would have happened to Canada, if many years ago, the young men and women who had the thought to serve our country in wartime, had listened to all of the saboteur voices that must have popped up in their heads. They must have been terrified to go and yet they pushed those voices aside and instead followed the strong value that they had to serve this great country of ours.
On November 11th, I’ll be giving thanks for all of the men and women who sacrificed so that we could live in freedom. I’ll think of how they may have had to recognize, and not be tricked by the enemy. And I’ll renew my promise to myself to make the most of this wonderful life I have. And I’ll polish my dancing shoes.
To find out how to deal with the saboteurs in your life feel free to call me for some coaching. You don’t even have to register your saboteur – I guarantee that they will show up!