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Meet Your Other Four Saboteurs

In my last post, Meet Five of Your Accomplice Saboteurs, you were introduced to The Avoider, The Controller, and the three Hypers: Hyper-Vigilant, Hyper-Rational, and Hyper-Achiever. If none of those felt familiar (though I imagine they might), here are the other four Accomplice Saboteurs who work alongside the judge in your head.

The Pleaser

The Pleaser tries to gain acceptance and affection by pleasing others at the expense of your own well-being and authenticity. Usually arising from a fear of rejection or conflict, it can lead us to prioritize others' needs and desires over our own, or even to neglect our own needs altogether. This looks like overcommitting, avoiding conflict, seeking validation, and self-sacrifice. Driven by thoughts like, "Good people put the needs of others ahead of their own" or "It's important that people like me," the Pleaser justifies its existence by telling you you're not doing this for yourself - you're doing it for others.

The Restless

The Restless Saboteur constantly seeks excitement or busyness to fulfill an inner emptiness. This saboteur thrives on discontentment, leading to a cycle of seeking but never truly finding satisfaction.

Impatient, full of FOMO, and never satisfied, the Restless uses distractions like excessive work, entertainment, or substance use to avoid confronting feelings of restlessness or dissatisfaction. Often feeling like others can't keep up, The Restless justifies its existence with a belief that life is short and must be lived fully. Unpleasant things are a waste of time.

The Stickler

The Stickler is overly focused on perfectionism, rigidity, and adherence to rules and standards - right is right and wrong is wrong! Setting unrealistic expectations, fostering a fear of failure, and creating a sense of constant pressure to meet impossibly high standards, this saboteur can be relentless about details. It tends to micromanage and is highly self-critical, engaging in harsh, negative self-talk. It hates mistakes and justifies its existence by extolling the virtues of an impossible "perfection." This perpetual striving and anxiety drives frustration, resignation, and resentment of others.

The Victim

This Saboteur adopts a passive, helpless, or defeatist mindset, often leading to feelings of powerlessness and self-pity. It believes that external circumstances or other people are responsible for our unhappiness, undermining our ability to take control or responsibility. Self-pity, blaming others, passivity, and sympathy-seeking, it tends to be fairly dramatic and temperamental - which is often reinforced by sympathetic reactions of others. Wishing for rescue, the Victim believes that sadness is noble and shows exceptional depth and sensitivity. However, self-pity is a poor substitute for self-love and the constant testing of others' affection tends to drive them away.

If any of these resonated with you, good! It's a sign that you're human. The key to managing these saboteurs is not to engage with them and argue - if you tell the Victim to buck up or knock it off, that will just drive more dramatic "you don't love me, poor me!" behavior. If you try to control the Stickler, you'll just get more harsh self-talk in return.

Instead, it's valuable to acknowledge that you've heard the Saboteur. Label it. Identify which one (or two, or three!) are ganging up on you. And recognize that they are voices in your head. Old patterns and habits of thinking that once served you, but don't anymore. And then offer them a snack and a cozy place to rest while you take a deep breath and focus on what's right in front of you.

Interested in learning more? Join my six-week mental fitness group coaching program! You'll learn all about your Saboteurs as well as your Sage (which I'll write about next time). You'll get access to a training app that will give you guided exercises every day and allow you to see your progress toward greater mental fitness.

Don't let your Saboteurs convince you that you don't deserve to be happy. We all deserve peace of mind, and my group coaching program can give it to you. Sign up now!

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