One of the big reasons for our trip was to attend an incredible party that Cara’s parents, Sharon and Dan, hosted for the newlyweds. At the party, we had the chance to meet lots of friends and relatives of Cara’s family. Several of them, upon meeting me, commented, “Oh, you’re Elizabeth. I have been following your blog”. It always surprises me to hear this. I just write and post my weekly blog, hoping that it will resonate with one or two readers. I do not really think about how many people might read it, nor do I think about exactly who those people might be. One of the people who made a similar comment to this was Cara’s boss, Corey. Cara works at the Rural Women’s Resource Centre. This is a place that provides education, prevention and support services for women and families impacted by abuse in Middlesex County. I am incredibly proud of the passion that Cara brings to her work at this facility.
For some reason, when Corey mentioned that she had read my blog, I almost had a feeling of panic. (Hello Saboteur!). A little voice chirped up in my head saying, “I hope you are thinking carefully about what you write. Who do you think you are doling out advice? You aren’t perfect. What gives you the right out to simply hand out pieces of your ‘wisdom’?”
Luckily, it did not take long for me to recognize this inner voice as that of my Saboteur or Inner Critic. I teach clients about the Saboteur very early in my work with them because each of us has one, sometimes many, and it can have a profound influence on us.
So what is this thing, the Saboteur? This is a voice we have that loves to prevent us from making change in our life. The Saboteur tries to protect us by convincing us to not ‘rock the boat’ and to maintain the status quo. The Saboteur detests change. He loves for us to keep our lives exactly as they are, even when a change would be for the better.
Everyone’s saboteur sounds slightly different but there are certainly commonalities among them. Saboteurs often say things like, ‘You’ve never been able to change before, why do you think you can do it now’ or ‘Who do you think you are?’ or ‘You don’t deserve better’ or ‘You deserve what you have’.
My particular Saboteur is very clever. In fact, it took me quite some time to recognize his voice. This is because it always talks to me with reason, and most often uses my own values to influence me. For example, my family is a high priority value for me. When I used to think of things I might do (take a course for example) my saboteur voice would delight in telling me, “That will take you away from your family”. Of course, since I never wanted to have my family be negatively impacted by my actions, I would easily give up my idea.
This time, in reference to my realizing that some people who I do not even know, who might be in precarious or even dangerous situations in their lives, might be reading my blog, my saboteur was quick to point out that I would never want to hurt these people and so the best course of action for me would be to simply abandon the blog and not believe that I could be of any help. Luckily, I could recognize this voice for what it was; it was simply the voice of my Inner Critic imploring me to go back to my safe life where I did not make controversial statements, nor did I stir up trouble, nor did I act ‘too big for my britches’. The saboteur had a point, as he always does. It would be safer for me to not write a blog. It would be safer not to say controversial things. It would be safer not to challenge peoples thinking. It would be safer not to grow my business. My saboteur’s timing was perfect. He popped up while I was talking to a woman who worked with other women who are often at very fragile places in their lives. He knows that I would never want to be responsible for hurting another person, especially one in a fragile position. And he tried to capitalize on the situation.
Luckily I know that just because my saboteur is convincing, he is not always truthful. I have met my saboteur before and I know how to handle him. One very effective method for handling a saboteur is to simply notice him and what he is trying to do. Sometimes that is enough. Other times, he needs to be told to leave. I often thank him for thinking about me and ask him to only chirp up if he has something positive to contribute! Then I send him off to find someone else to ‘help’.
I thought about the women and families who are served by the WRRC, where Cara works. I can imagine the saboteur voices they must have in their heads as they make the brave decisions to change their lives. I imagine that they might also have some real live saboteurs in their lives – sometimes saboteurs can be flesh and blood people who do not like to see people change because it means that they will be affected too. Sometimes Saboteur voices are voices from our past, sometimes they are voices from people in our present lives, and sometimes they are home grown voices. I hope that by introducing the concept of the saboteur that it will give you, the reader, a new way to deal with your fears and that you will understand that by managing your saboteur, you can access your own power as you try to make change.
For my part, my saboteur did not win this one. I am grateful for his voice, because he reminded me that this is an important issue for me. Saboteurs often like to show up when we are dealing with something important. I, of course, feel strongly about the value of coaching and about the positive impact it can have in the lives of people. If my blog can help one person, who might be able to help another person, then it is a worthwhile venture.
My challenge for you this week is to simply notice your saboteur.
Perhaps you have a saboteur who has too much control in your life. Contact me today to learn more about how we can work together to facilitate the change you want.