We’ve all struggled with frustration over not being able to accomplish what we want, to act how we know we should, or to maintain the outlook on life that would be most beneficial. That’s because we’re constantly being sabotaged from within.
And when we allow negative thoughts to permeate our “inner game” — our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs — there’s no way to avoid a negative impact on our clients and our business results.
Our brains are incredibly sophisticated—so sophisticated, in fact, that they evaluate our safety 5 times per second. This pattern of constantly looking for threats means we have ample opportunity for negative thoughts to sneak in and take charge.
And during stressful or busy seasons, our brain can start living in survival mode, using all its energy to scan for threats on our physical and emotional survival. This constant survival mode thinking will get us bogged down in scarcity and fear-based thinking in a way that prevents us from thriving and recognizing opportunities. When our brain is locked in survival mode, there is a critical, saboteur, voice or thought pattern that tells us to be careful, to be fearful, to fight and to run and hide.
On the other hand, when we are able to function in our thriving mode, we operate from a place of self-awareness, where our brain has the capacity to make better decisions and be more productive and efficient. Being able to function most of the time in thriving mode instead of survival mode is essential for leadership effectiveness, and the key way to do this is by awareness and management of our saboteur voice in our head.
Shirzad Chamine has done a tremendous amount of research around Positive Intelligence. His work goes into tremendous detail on the various saboteurs we allow to undermine our efforts and influence our minds. It’s these saboteurs that can lock us into survival mode and prevent us from thriving.
Chamine has identified 10 total saboteurs, but we’re going to focus on The Judge — the universally shared Saboteur.
The Judge is the voice in our head (actually, it’s a series of thought patterns that repeatedly ‘speak’ to us in our minds) that operates by finding fault with ourselves, others, and our circumstances.
Different people’s Judges tend to focus more on one of those three than the others. People whose thoughts are most often pointed inward may focus on past mistakes or other shortcomings. When pointed at other people, The Judge looks at others’ shortcomings rather than showing appreciation for their efforts. And when focused on circumstances, it immediately decides a situation is bad without looking for the opportunity within.
There are a couple of defining characteristics of the Judge. First, it finds fault. Always.
Second, it latches on and doesn’t let go. If you are stressed for more than 10 seconds, your Judge has taken over.
Third, it tells you what “should” be instead of what is. When you start thinking in terms of “should,” that’s your Judge Saboteur coming out.
You can use mental exercises to help you determine which way your Judge usually manifests. For example, here’s how a mortgage leader could identify their Judge Saboteur.
What does your voice say to you when:
Do you generally find yourself blaming yourself, other people, or circumstances?
There are multiple approaches for managing your Saboteur(s). Here are a few key actions to try.
Rather than fighting the Saboteur, recognize it for what it is. Observe it and call it what it is, then laugh and own it. You can acknowledge the tendencies without allowing them to dictate your thoughts or actions.
Additionally, we can take these thoughts and feelings and test them against the truth. Figure out what part of it is based in fact and what part comes from anxiety. And recognize these aren’t your thoughts. These are the thoughts of your Judge, and you get to reject them in favor of your truth.
Second, you can invest in some “Mindfulness and Meditation.” This approach slows the survival brain and rewires the brain to allow you greater control of your thoughts and feelings.
Here are a few ways to build those “mindfulness muscles.”
Overcoming the Judge Saboteur
Don’t allow your Judge to keep you from reaching your team’s or your personal goals.
Want to better understand your saboteurs? Learn more at Shirzad Chamine’s Positive Intelligence website.