Do you ever wonder where that little voice comes from that pops up at the most inconvenient times? The voice that says “you aren’t good enough”, “you aren’t smart enough”, “that’s too risky for you”, or “you will fail and there is nothing worse than failure”.
Everyone knows the voice – some people feel it in their gut, some in their head, and some in their heart. The problem is not the voice; the problem is you when you allow the voice to get in the way of what matters most. The more control the voice has over you, the more it acts like a ticker on the bottom of your TV screen – you are so distracted by the ticker reel that you don’t even notice the main programming.
Let’s call these voices the saboteurs. These saboteurs are like gremlins, or devils on your shoulder. They are part of you, but they are NOT who you are. They exist to protect you from jumping off cliffs and cutting your hand when slicing through a bagel. They have a job to do, but if you think of them as employees of your company, the employees are only as good as the training you give them, the example you set, and your communication skills along the way.
The good news is that saboteurs can be trained, and the more training opportunities you give them, the more success you will see professionally and personally.
Why? Because the saboteurs get in the way of what you really need and want. They feed you a story that keeps you stuck in your current reality. When there is no change, there is no progress. When there is no progress, your promotion, your new business, or your new exercise program remains a dream.
Here’s a simple strategy to train the saboteurs to get out of your way (and to go find someone cutting a bagel the wrong way): Send the saboteurs “P.A.C.K.ing”:
- PERSONIFY the saboteur: Name the saboteur(s) (e.g., the “Failure”, or “Guilt” saboteurs). When you acknowledge it, you can deal with it.
- ADMIT the truth: The saboteur is trying to protect you from something and it is important to identify what that is. For example, when you exercise, the Guilt saboteur may cause you to feel guilty for taking time away from your kids or the office. The truth is that yes, parenting and professional success are important to you. But that’s the only truth – the rest of the saboteur’s story is a lie.
- CHALLENGE the saboteur: The saboteur is out of control and now is the time to tell it off. Challenge the saboteur with the truth using rational arguments: parenting and professional success are important to you, but taking time out to exercise is okay, because: (1) exercise enables you to be a better parent or employee; (2) exercise is a priority, and all of your priorities must be respected; and (3) taking time to exercise does not mean that you are no longer a good parent or valued employee.
- KICK the saboteur out of the way: Visualize something that works for you (slamming the door, hosing it down, sticking it in a drawer) and practice the visualization every time you notice the saboteur lurking. Don’t underestimate the power of this exercise.
Getting to know your saboteurs, and noticing when they pop up, is half the battle. The second half of the battle is garnering up the courage to send them “P.A.C.K.ing”. For when you do that, you will see what really lies in front of you, and there will be no more excuses for you to take your next steps.
If you need help tackling the saboteurs, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.