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.

Photo by cottonbro studio on

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