The Other Accomplice Saboteurs

In the previous post, we described the Judge, Avoider, Controller, Hyper-Achiever, and Hyper-Rational. There are some more and a question for you is which one/s have the loudest and most insistent voice/s in your head (aka self-sabotage “self-talk”). When your Sage is active, your self-talk (ok, your brain) can be your best friend helping you with constructive next steps to work on whatever opportunities and challenges you may be facing. When your Saboteurs are active, your self-talk/brain can be your worst enemy. It’s apt that Shirzad Chamine called these “brains” the “Survivor Brain” (Saboteurs in action) and the “PQ Brain” (Sage in action). That is, PQ is your Positive Intelligence Quotient. It measures the percent of time your brain is working positively (serving you) vs. negatively (sabotaging you).

The Survivor Brain is triggered by fear (fight or flight) and “protects” us in ways to help us survive and usually not in ways that help us grow. Our survivor instincts and actions may keep us stuck, immobilized, or worse, do things that make our situation even worse than it is. The PQ Brain is enabled by calm and confidence (opportunity-seeking) and works to transform negatives into positives so that beneficial outcomes are made possible even out of adversity. The PQ Brain helps us to thrive and not just survive.

The Hyper-Vigilant is about looking out for dangers that keeps us anxious and anxiousness that keeps us vigilant about everything that can go wrong. The Pleaser is about satisfying others to gain acceptance usually at the expense of one’s self, thus causing unhappiness and resentment. The Restless is about keeping busy and looking for the next activity for more excitement. The Stickler is about finding the impossible perfect and can cause anxiety. And, finally, the Victim is about indulging in feelings of pain and seeing one’s self as always being victimized by someone or other. Did these brief descriptions remind you of people you know? Maybe even yourself?

Take note that recognizing our Judge and its loudest accomplice Saboteurs is part of the process of accepting that they are there, and will perhaps never be gone, and to remind us to take pause when we catch their volume getting louder and hurting us. That is, their appearance becomes an opportunity to do some “PQ reps” and activate the wisdom of our Sage. Shirzad Chamine uses the metaphor of building our “PQ muscles” by doing “PQ reps,” just like going to the gym to strengthen and build our physical muscles. The metaphor makes developing our Positive Intelligence more accessible and using our Judge and accomplices as reminders to turn their presence into taking steps to develop new patterns of thinking and acting. He suggests doing 100 PQ reps daily and this may sound difficult but assuming that our Judge and accomplice is super active, and we use each “appearance” to remind ourselves to think and act differently can and will help burn in new habits.

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The three strategies Chamine shares to strengthen our PQ include weakening your saboteurs, strengthening your sage, and building your PQ Brain muscles. He then gives specifics on how to apply each of these strategies to help start changing deeply ingrained self-sabotaging patterns of being, thinking and acting.

More to on these in the next post. In the meantime, have you figured out which is your worst enemy? Is it the Judge and Hyper-Rational? Is it the Judge and the Stickler? You can choose to embark on a journey of personal growth to thrive instead of staying in a self-sabotaging mode of fear and just surviving.

I hope that by now you are ever more curious to learn more so why not try out the free Saboteur Assessment on the Positive Intelligence website?

Meet Your Judge and Accomplice Saboteurs

Our main saboteur tends to be the Judge, that voice in our heads that nag us when things don’t go well that we are to blame or someone else is to blame. The Judge shames and blames whoever may be perceived as responsible for things that go wrong or fail. The outcome is our having negative feelings about ourselves and others which then negatively impact our relationships with family, friends, and co-workers, as well as our performance. When such negativity is our habitual pattern of thinking, feeling, and being, it can spiral into what Shirzad Chamine calls a negative vortex pulling us down, down, down.

In addition to the Judge, we have accomplice Saboteurs and it helps to reflect on which one/s have the second and third loudest voice in our heads. There are nine and we’ll briefly describe four of them.

The Avoider prefers pleasant experiences and avoids unpleasant experiences, for example, tasks we don’t like, conflicts we shy away from, and difficult people at work we avoid. When one is habitually procrastinating, that’s the Avoider in action.

The Controller prefers to control people and situations. Control makes one feel good, comfortable, or safer, while lack of it makes one feel anxious and stressed. When one is micromanaging to make sure that things go according to one’s standards, that’s the Controller in action.

The Hyper-Achiever is ever focused on more and higher achievements with the payoff of gaining more self-respect and self-validation. For the Hyper-Achiever, the current accomplishments are never enough as more and more are pursued. One is only as good as one’s last achievement.

The Hyper-Rational engages in the rational processing of experiences, as if everything, including relationships, can be had and stoked by reason. The reality is that rationality may not always create the desired impacts and outcomes. It may turn others off and build walls instead of bridges between people.

Having trained as a professional coach has made me realize how active my Judge can be at times, and that my accomplice Saboteur is the Hyper-Rational. I’ve learned to catch and pause my Judge as much as I can and keep an open mind instead. I’ve learned to catch and pause my Hyper-Rational as well. It’s a work in progress and with constant practice, I am able to reduce their negative impact.

Reflecting on my interests, since my college days at Assumption College, San Lorenzo, when we had subjects in Logic and Philosophy, I’ve gravitated towards thinking things through as a way of processing everything. And how I loved learning about fallacies then and now about cognitive biases. It does not mean that I do not feel or have emotions, only that I would apply rational processing to them to get through anything challenging.

I recall one of my Mentor coaches giving me feedback that I somehow needed to explain things, most if not all the time. That feedback helped me become aware that I default to being rational and explaining away. It’s like one’s comfort food, to use a metaphor. But truly, rational processing can have its pros and cons if we have too little or too much of it. It can have its limits.

Whatever our Saboteurs are, there are strategies to become aware of and learn from them. There are also strategies for strengthening our Sage, our Positive Intelligence Quotient (PQ). More on these and the other five Saboteurs in the following posts.

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Photo: Your Sage can create a stronger upward vortex to counteract the Saboteur’s negative vortex, resulting in a net positive impact.

Developing Your Positive Intelligence

Happy New Year, dear readers! With the New Year, what will you do more of, do less of, and continue doing, that will elevate your quality of life and that of others around you?

One of the things that make life happier and more meaningful is having a positive mindset. A positive mindset or outlook creates an upward spiral while a negative mindset or outlook creates a downward spiral. One may not always be self-aware about one’s habitual mindsets or patterns of thinking and how these are impacting one’s quality of life and success or lack of it.

There’s more to a positive mindset and one resource that has been quite a discovery (for me anyway) is the concept of Positive Intelligence (PQ) as developed and written about by Shirzad Chamine. It’s not just about having a mindset per se, but a realization that our patterns of thinking may be skewed one way or the other and thus shape who we are, our relationships, and our lives. Happily, with evidence supporting neuroplasticity, the possibility of making different choices exist. No more the blind acceptance of the old adage about old dogs can’t learn new tricks.

Diving into PQ, one realizes that we do all have our Saboteurs and our Sage. Our Saboteur is that voice in our heads or self-talk that is always looking at the bad side and keeps us stuck. Our Sage is that voice or self-talk that is open to the good side and allows us to get past being stuck. The Saboteur has many faces, namely, the Judge, the Controller, the Stickler, the Avoider, the Hyper-Achiever, the Pleaser, the Victim, the Restless, the Hyper-Vigilant, and the Hyper-Rational. Each one may have one or more dominant ones that drive our thinking, feeling, and actions. Developing awareness of which Saboteurs are your dominant ones is essential to overcoming them with one’s Sage.

The most common and familiar may be the Judge which beats you up for whatever shortcomings real or imagined. You may hear self-talk like this one and you’ll know it’s the Judge: “You missed your deadlines, you’re no good. You missed your targets, you’re incompetent. You don’t do anything right. Co-workers complimented you on your hard work, and you feel you don’t deserve it because they don’t know the real you.” The Judge activates your other Saboteurs, and the impact is that you get stressed, anxious, fearful, insomnia, and feel unhappy. Instead of focusing your energy on taking constructive action, you end up wallowing in self-pity, bitching, moaning, and whining (“BMW”), and being stuck where you are not knowing what to do.

The Judge can be very difficult to overcome especially if you have a mental knee-jerk reaction of judging yourself and everybody else. How come? It happens fast and without self-awareness. The Judge can make you feel bad about yourself, but sometimes it might also make you feel good about yourself as being superior to someone else. For example, when judging others as “incompetent and stupid,” that automatically puts you on “I’m better than this stupid guy or gal.”

By now, I hope that the concept of Positive Intelligence, our Saboteurs, and our Sage, has piqued your interest in learning more, and how you can develop your PQ. Can you really? Yes, you can. More on the other Saboteurs and how you can build your PQ to follow in the subsequent posts. In the meantime, if you’d like to go ahead and read up, visit and read the post “How We Self Sabotage” on Shirzad Chamine’s website. You can also check his book on Amazon: “Positive Intelligence: Why Only 20% of Teams and Individuals Achieve Their True Potential AND HOW YOU CAN ACHIEVE YOURS.”

The New Year is a good time to start fresh. But really, every day is just as good to start fresh. So, what will you do more of, do less of, and continue doing, that will elevate your quality of life and that of others around you?