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I have been training in another coaching program with Coach Shirzad Charmine called Positive Intelligence. He speaks of the internal saboteurs , what I have come to understand as created by the inner child, and on a scientific level the limbic portion of my brain holding all the emotions, thoughts, patterns created during times of distress. it has also been called the inner critic, the gremlin, the elephant, and the lion. In other words, it is the very loud portion of the brain (for some of us), speaking negatively. For me, this voice was a loud roar, and I mistook it for my own. The saboteur had been working very hard for a long time to keep me “safe”, to survive in conditions that weren’t suitable for thriving for a small child and later when it began misperceiving as if I was constantly in these situations. My saboteur was reality for me for a long time. I accepted it as truth, and could not, would not question it. In fact, I often went to other for help, such as coaches and therapists and it was then it became the loudest, even offering evidence as to why it was right. Cognitive distortions will of course find proof to validate the ideas presented. I was unworthy and I could find proof to show why, and this proof made it difficult for me to believe otherwise and to move past the saboteur saying it.

                                              

                                           What Are Saboteurs? 

Saboteurs are the voices in your head that generate negative emotions in the way you handle life’s everyday challenges. They represent automated patterns in your mind for how to think, feel, and respond. They cause all of your stress, anxiety, self-doubt, frustration, restlessness, and unhappiness. They sabotage your performance, wellbeing, and relationships.   (Coach Shirzad)

In retraining my brain for the last few years, I have become very intimate with the internal saboteur of the “judge”.  The judge was constantly working to self sabotage, in different ways. According to Coach Shirzad there are 9  different ways that the judge can self sabotage: hyper rational, avoider, hyper vigilant, victim, stickler, restless, pleaser, hyper achiever, controller. My “judge” used all of these but the one that was most dominant for a good portion of my life was the victim. I had been victim for a long time , so the thoughts, patterns and words I would speak all came from a place of victimization. When one plays a role for a long time, learning a new script is difficult. And, when one does not realize that they are playing a role, it is that much harder to change it. How could I change something I accepted as reality? Victimization creates a state of hypervigilance, from hypervigilance one can behave and react to others and situations as if they are still being victimized.  For example, feelings of paranoia during an interaction with another could lead me to believe they were going to “hurt” me, or “they “didn’t like me.”

My judge saboteur worked in other ways besides victim to self sabotage. What began as a victim state  went in and out of these limiting ways of behaving like pleaser, controller and hyper achiever.  All of it was to make sure I was never the victim again. Ultimately, when I got sick with chronic illness it was the hyper vigilance that led to destruction.

My primary illness of chronic inflammatory response syndrome, manifested from this hyper vigilant state. Every single environment was dangerous and made me sick. My judge (limbic system) was so afraid of the threat of a “home”, that it made sure I could not stay in one.  I also isolated for this period since every person was also dangerous, and my primary motivation was to run and stay alive. I often felt like I was running from some kind of wild animal who set out to get me, and eventually would find me and tear me to shreds. Sometimes, in interactions with different family members, this threat felt very real. They were not “tearing me to shreds” physically, but emotionally the same patterns of invalidation found in childhood cycled . Not being understood or believed for the duration of my extreme sensitivities led to an even greater increase in the victim state and therefore hyper vigilance.  For two years, I moved from place to place, often I would get very sick upon entry and rather than tolerating this, I would avoid (another saboteur).  Other illnesses I speak about throughout this blog such as lyme, mast cell activation syndrome and multiple chemical sensitivity of course also came from this hyper vigilance.

Tolerating it felt too dangerous, and the truth is I was getting very sick from all of the environments I was in. My hypervigilance extended itself even to my clothing. In looking back, I realized I began giving away or throwing away clothing for a few years. It was done “unconsciously.” I am unaware of the direct cause (whether it began with sensitivities I was unaware of ) , but a need to get rid of all the things I had accumulated that was making me feel “trapped”, ensued and slowly I relieved myself of all of these restraints. Until, I had nothing at all.  One night, with the last remaining box of clothing I had in my mother’s car, sick and desperate, I dumped it on the side of a street. And that was it, I had nothing left. I had managed to destroy all I had. My hyper vigilant saboteur was relieved, and like it always did when I avoided “triggers” lay quiet for awhile.

Coach Shirzad uses different mindfulness techniques by way of an app to bring awareness back to the present. It is similar to the program I used for the past three years in this aspect, however, it does not include the visualizations for the release of dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins. In taking the saboteur assessment three years after beginning my retraining to heal my body and brain, I scored the highest on the hyper rational saboteur, which is a complete flip from my emotional, impulsive victim state, and very accurate, These days, I look to explain things with some kind of evidence and rationale. The truth is as humans we will never be completely free of all saboteurs, as the brain is wired to keep us safe from any threats, by looking for the negative. But, in knowing how to handle this saboteur  in our heads, how to soothe and change them to a more positive reframe, they can get to be more of a whisper than a roar.

To discover your internal saboteurs you can take the test here

Stefanie