PMH 78 | Saboteurs


Is your saboteur ruining your life? Does your people pleaser come out and make you over commit? Or perhaps your perfectionism makes it impossible to make a decision for fear it’s the wrong one? On this episode, you will learn about Positive Intelligence, the saboteur quiz, and how to identify your saboteurs so you can gain a better understanding about yourself and live an empowered life. You can even take the test here to identify your top saboteurs

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How Being Aware Of Your Saboteurs Can Help You Live An Empowered Life

In this episode, you will learn about the saboteurs we develop in life, where they originate, and how to identify them to keep them from running your life.

We are talking about saboteur awareness.

You are into saboteurs and I’m not too familiar with it.

Yes, I am a big fan. It feels weird to say fan, but I very much enjoy the work with saboteurs and recognizing them. A saboteur is that little voice inside your head that may stop you from doing different things. Some people call them gremlin, inner voice, critic, and all of that different stuff. When you’re using saboteurs, we’re talking about Shirzad Chamine’s work in Positive Intelligence. We’re excited because we are going to be doing a book club on this book.

It’s at the end of March 2022.

We’re giving you a sneak peek, but we wanted to talk about saboteur awareness because it’s a way for you to understand yourself better and have a better understanding of what are the different drivers that you have within yourself that might make you do certain things.

I haven’t read the book yet. Readers, I’ll be right there with you as we’re reading this book together, but Siria had me take a quiz. There’s a free quiz you can take. Is it nine saboteurs?

There are nine saboteurs. You can take this quiz at Go take it and learn a little bit about yourself. It is 50 questions, so give yourself about five minutes or so.

It goes by fast. I’m not surprised by my results.

I had Melissa take it. I have my clients take this as well. It depends on where they are on their coaching journey. I don’t have them take it right away because it’s something that you want to be aware of. You are familiar already with the different tendencies that you have and the different voices that pop up with yourself. At some point, I may be like, “Go check this out to learn more about yourself and see what it is.” That’s what my coach did with me. I retook the test so that we could talk about the different saboteurs that popped up. You are not at all going to be shocked by the top saboteurs for Melissa and you probably shouldn’t be for me either.

PMH 78 | Saboteurs
Saboteurs: It’s just something that you want to be aware of and be familiar with the different tendencies that you have and the different voices that pop up with yourself.


The top that you can max out at is ten. Out of the 9 saboteurs, I maxed out at 3. Them being the Stickler, the Hyper-Rational, and the Controller. I feel that if anybody knows me will be like, “That sounds about right.”

You got called out.

I did. I knew it, but this reaffirms it. What I like about the report that they give you afterwards is they talk about the characteristics, the thoughts, and the feelings and how they can potentially play out in different aspects of your life and maybe where it originated from. I was like, “Damn, childhood trauma. Hello.”

There’s a lot with childhood trauma. I went ahead and retook it as well. My top three were the Pleaser at 8.1. I didn’t get tens on any of them.

That was the first thing I heard her say. “I didn’t score ten on any of them.” I’m like, “Okay.” 

I was very excited and proud of that in some weird way, but my Pleaser was my number one tied with my Hyper-Vigilant saboteur, and also, Hyper-Achiever saboteur was my third one at a 7. My Avoiders are pretty strong too, 6.9. From there, they’re all under five.

By knowing the different types of saboteurs that you are, what does that provide you? As you said, we already know that I’m super analytical and a perfectionist. What is understanding these saboteurs do?

The analogy I like to think of is there’s a bus, and this bus is of your life. You got all these different saboteurs in there, but you also have all your different allies in there as well who can help you. Who’s going to be driving the Siria bus? Who’s going to be driving the Melissa bus? Having the awareness of who might be in charge at the moment can help you decide, “Is my pleaser who I want to be in charge right now, and is that serving my highest good? Is that having me live my empowered life, or am I defaulting back into these saboteurs?” Part of what is happening with these saboteurs is at some point in your life, probably in childhood, you needed them. They came up, supported, and kept you safe somehow.

Part of what is happening with these saboteurs is at some point in your life, probably in childhood, you needed them. They came up, they supported you, they kept you safe. Click To Tweet

For me, being a pleaser kept me very safe. It kept me from avoiding fights with my parents, constantly giving them gifts, and giving things so I could make everybody else happy at my own expense. My pleaser is a part of me, but I don’t always want it to be in charge. The thing that I’ve been talking about with you is I want to be more this year and be valuable for being valuable, not because I’m pleasing everybody or doing all these things to make other people happy. I want to make myself happy. That’s the driver that I have, but I am fighting my years of programming where this Pleaser has come up and has kept me safe. Being hyper-vigilant and a high-achiever has helped me in my life, but they don’t help me right now.

You mentioned that you took this exam in 2021. What was different at all and what do you think attributed to the different results that you received?

Part of it is knowing when the voices pop up in your head and who’s popping up. Is this saboteur energy? Is this something that’s a little bit more on the negative side? These saboteurs are trying to keep you safe. That’s the bottom line. They’re trying to do that, but you may not need that anymore. You might be in a different place in your life where, “I don’t need to please everybody. The person who I need to please is myself,” in a good way. Even being a hyper-achiever, it’s like, “I don’t need to be hyper achieving for anybody else. I want to achieve something for my highest good and self.”

What it’s done for me is knowing, “Is that me or is that my pleaser?” My true self is happy and content being herself. She feels safe and strong. It’s a totally different vibe. When I’m making a decision or any action that I’m taking, “Who is this for? Is this serving my higher self? Is this serving the person I want to be in this world? Is it serving one of these more negative energies because of some scarcity or fear mindset that I might have gotten myself into?”

That also speaks to the importance of even doing some check-ins. As you had mentioned, it’d been about a year since you’d done it. In any test, whether you’re getting blood work done or taking this saboteur test, that’s a snapshot in time. The emotions that you’re feeling right now, the situation, the job, and the relationship that you’re in are all going to influence these different saboteurs. It might heighten them. They may decrease some, but doing it regularly, like once a year, to see where I’m at.

It’s to see where you’re at and have additional information. Any of these personality tests or quizzes you may take or things like that give you more information about yourself, which is not a bad thing to know, but they don’t necessarily define you. They’re not going to tell you everything.

PMH 78 | Saboteurs
Saboteurs: All they do is give you more information about yourself, which is not a bad thing to know, but they don’t necessarily define you.


It wouldn’t necessarily pigeonhole yourself. Taking quizzes can be a slippery slope because you might ping yourself as, “I’m an introvert.” That’s your identity and you may not take chances to explore or flex the extroversion that you can do. There’s this fine line between knowing a lot about yourself and then making that your identity.

Being aware of that line is what it comes down to and knowing, “It might be information that you find useful for yourself. It might not be.” I’ve taken the enneagram because I was in an organization that would not shut up about it.

You love quizzes.

I do love me a good quiz. That is not a lie at all. It’s not one where I’ve gone fully all in on. I’ve been getting a lot of stuff on human design and I’m like, “I don’t know what that is. I don’t know if I’m a generator or a super generator. That all sounds like a lot more work,” but this one here with the saboteurs is knowing, “Who’s coming up with this decision?”

Let’s take my coaching as an example. If I decide not to do that and stick to the law as a lawyer, who am I doing that decision for? I can tell you it’s for my pleaser. That’s going to make everybody else happy. It’s going to make my parents happy. To a certain extent, it would make Matt happy or relieved, probably a little bit of both, but I would be doing that for other people and not for myself.

It’s funny that you’re mentioning asking yourself, “Who am I doing it for?” A friend of mine is hosting this class about perfectionism and being a stickler AKA perfectionist. It’s weird that it would come along at the same time, but what’s interesting is she’s even broadening the question. It’s not even necessarily who am I doing it for, but it’s like, “How is this impacting my work and the relationship with my spouse or my partner?” It helps you think about the different ways that these types of characteristics show themselves in these different aspects of our lives.

One of the things that I did that I showed you and didn’t think I’ve talked about it on the show is that my pleaser tendency comes out sometimes in the form of gifts. I do enjoy giving gifts. That’s something that I’ve done for a very long time. I’ve also decided to declutter my house and get rid of as many things, and Melissa has been very helpful with that. It was finally time for me to organize everything. I was like, “I’m going to take all of the different things that I’ve bought over the years and I’m going to put them in one place. I’m going to organize and get rid of things.” Dear readers, if I’m decluttering again, please remind me that Matt is not the person to help me with this. It is Melissa. I chose the wrong M.

I still have a lot of these gifts, but what I did was I ended up laying them out in my little reading room area. There’s this big carpet there and a couple of ottomans, and I laid everything out. I made a whole video about it on TikTok. It made me so incredibly sad to visually see how bad my pleasing is. I could not buy people gifts for probably the next few years and I’d be good because I’ve got plenty of inventory. It’s things where I’ve bought it because it reminded me of somebody or, “This will be a nice gift for somebody,” and then that mixed along with the anxiety of being like, “I’m not going to give him that because I don’t think it’s good enough,” and then I start doing this whole mind fuck to myself, so that was fun.

Speaking of my perfectionism, in this course that my friend is offering, she signs everything off as a former perfectionist. We had a group coaching call, and I don’t agree with that. I realize that I’ve even made the same mistake before. In previous episodes, I’ve talked about me being a recovering people pleaser. The thing is I know these are things about me and that’s what makes me unique and who I am. I don’t necessarily want to never be a perfectionist, controller, hyper-rational, or anything like that because that makes me who I am.

As I’m working through both the saboteurs and this perfectionism work, I want to be able to flex these skillsets because they are. It’s what I’m known for. It serves me well at work. I also want to be able to establish boundaries so that these don’t necessarily carry into my friendships, relationships, and the time I have with myself. Developing tools and skill sets that allow me to recognize when I’m falling into one of these saboteurs, as you had mentioned, but then what do I do when I find myself in these situations? What have you found that you’ve done once you’ve caught yourself and you’re like, “This is the judging?”

What I’ve done is identify, “This is my pleaser.” If I did more work with my pleaser right now, which I haven’t done, but if I did, it would be something like, “What does she look like?” It’s funny because I did a whole video with all of these different personalities. My pleaser is super beautiful and nice. She’s like my 1950s housewife version or the pinup girl of myself. Maybe she’s showing lingerie that might please somebody. She’s doing that thing. What you want to try to do if you can, is identify, “What is this pleaser like to do? What are they like to eat? What is their favorite drink? What are they wearing? What’s their ideal vacation?”

Is it each their own identity?

Yes, because they are. When you can put it outside of yourself as an aspect of yourself, but not necessarily the whole thing, the way I like to think about it is you’re filling up this bus and this bus is your whole personality and being. You’ve got all these different seats and you’re going to know who that is. You don’t necessarily always want your pleaser to be the driver of the bus. It’s going to be like, “You want to stop for a potty break? Let’s go ahead and do that,” and then everybody else is going to be upset, or we stopped and you’re like, “I’m sorry.” You’re doing everything that you can to help everybody else instead of, “We got to stick to the schedule,” which says you got to wait.

Part of it is if you make your saboteur something outside of yourself when you’re trying to make these bigger decisions for yourself or live your life the way you want to. You can go ahead and say, “Not right now, penny pleaser. You go sit over in the corner. We’re doing this right here. We see and recognize you, but you’re not going to be part of this decision right now.”

It reminds me almost of the habit loop that we talked about in the previous episode, which is where you identify what the trigger is or the cue. In this case, it would be like the saboteur, then what is the response? What is the desired outcome? It’s playing off of the model of those three steps, the cue or trigger, the response, and then the feeling.

The feeling that you’re trying to chase and that’s what it is. It’s the feeling that you’re chasing with any of these things of, “I want to feel in control. I want to feel like I’ve got everything and that nobody can have anything over me.” That could be it. The main thing with your saboteur is having the awareness. This quiz is one step to helping you have that awareness of, “Where did this decision come from?” When you decide, “I’m going to take back that project because I might as well do it myself.” Does that benefit you? Does that help you?

In my work environment, it would.

It would, but at what cost?

There’s always a cost to something. We talk about words create worlds and the word saboteur has a negative connotation, but when used in a positive way or in a way that has boundaries, they’re not necessarily saboteurs, but maybe helpers.

They were helpers at some point.

Ally is what you would call them.

I wouldn’t necessarily call these guys allies. The main purpose of your saboteur is to keep you in your box and in your lane and not have you try anything else. The saboteur wants you to stay small. They want you to stay in your little zone of excellence. They want you to stay here because here is safe. Your saboteurs they’ve developed to help keep you safe. It is safe for me to be a people pleaser.

We’ve talked about being in the status quo before.

That is what your saboteur is going to do. If you are looking to grow and make changes, your saboteurs are going to get activated. They’re going to get loud and try to be like, “No, absolutely not. We can’t do this because Siria is going to crash the bus. We’re all on the bus. You can’t do it.” They try to get control and keep you there because that’s their job. The thing is if you’re trusting your higher self and trust that you do need to do something different, want to make that change, and get out of the status quo, you can do that.

If you are actually looking to grow and make changes, your saboteurs are gonna get activated. Click To Tweet

These saboteurs are getting in the way of that. That’s why they do have the saboteur one because their energy is more of getting in the way to keep you safe, which is a positive thing. However, it’s not letting you grow. It’s stifling you and keeping you in that limited deficit mindset that we’ve talked about. That’s not what you want anymore.

If you’re reading this, you do not want this. You want to be able to grow and have that empowered life. You have to have that awareness of, “What’s holding me back on this?” It could be one of these saboteurs who’s trying to get in the driver’s seat and try to keep you safe. You’re like, “Penny pleaser, we got this. Go ahead and sit over there. We’re going to be fine, even if everybody doesn’t like us.”

I want to come back to talking about the origins of where the saboteurs come from. You did highlight that a lot of them come from a way of protecting ourselves in childhood or maybe we had a very toxic relationship and developed these saboteurs to protect ourselves. You and I have talked about inner dialogue and our thoughts become our reality.

I love that we’re trying to build this awareness and boiling down to where the origin was. You asked me oftentimes when I say something that maybe doesn’t mesh with where I want to go. You’ll be like, “Does that serve you now? What narrative are you telling yourself?” Asking yourself those two questions help you dig deep into, “Why am I thinking this way? Why can’t I apply for that job?” Even asking yourself some questions about why we decide to stick and dig deep into these saboteurs and find it hard to let go.

Get good to know them. These are a part of you. I’ve heard people talking about, “I want to sever my ego. I want to be ego-free.” Your ego doesn’t like hearing that and your ego’s never going away. These are all pieces of you. As you said, you don’t want to get rid of them. You don’t want to be a form or anything. They’re parts of yourself. Learning how to figure out, “My pleaser loves homemade mac and cheese.”  Having all these different things of getting to know them is a way to get to know yourself a little bit better.

You can thank your saboteurs. It’s like, “Thank you so much for helping me get to this place where I’m at now,” because they did help you with your growth and get to this place. You have to give your saboteurs and yourself a chance to live your life the way you want to live it. These different sides of your personality think that they know what’s best for you, but you have to trust that you know what’s best for you. Have them come along for the ride. They’re still going to be there. They can pop up.

Sometimes it is going to be best to let your controller up at the top like, “This is an important project. Here you go. Take the wheel,” and they’ll love it, but then knowing, “You can calm down. You’ve done your part for the day. Go chillax and take a bubble bath or do something else because we’ve got us. Things aren’t going to fall apart because you are no longer the main character.” That’s what it is. They’ll want to be the main character.

Taking this test is not like, “I have this test and now I have all of this knowledge.” It takes a lot of work. Even in this perfectionist class, understanding the origins is important. One of the questions was, “What is a memory you have of your caregivers imposing perfection in you? How have they nurtured this within you?” Some of these were pretty painful. As you’re working through these saboteurs, you’re going to come across some uncomfortable memories, whether it’s a pain you’ve inflicted on other people or pain that others inflicted upon you. Once you develop that sense of awareness, it’s easier to then create steps to work through that or think of the next steps. If a similar situation comes up, you can do things differently.

Once you have or developed that sense of awareness, it's easier to then create steps to work through that. So if a similar situation comes up, you can do things differently. Click To Tweet

For some of these, you might be able to do the work yourself, with a coach or therapist. Therapists might identify these a little bit differently. It’s trying to have a better understanding of how these things are impacting your life. That’s all it is. You want to learn more about yourself. You want to have greater insight as to, “Why am I doing this thing? Why do I always seem to get here?” My avoider isn’t one of my top three, but my avoider pops up like, “We’re not doing any of the things. We’re going to keep our head in the sand because it’ll be safer that way.” I was like, “It’s not. We got to lay things back and you have to take a look at it.”

It’s additional information that you have. You then can make an informed choice as to what your next step is going to be in whatever that is. Whether that’s a career move, relationship, healing your relationship with toxic parents, or whatever it is that you’re looking to do, you can do it from a place of choice as opposed to one of these saboteurs trying to keep you safe.

That’s it for this episode. Find us on Instagram, @PivotalMomentsHQ, for all the behind-the-scenes and sister-like banter you know and love.



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