Episode 3: The Saboteur Interceptor Muscle and The Judge
As we shared in Episode 1, mental fitness is the capacity to respond to life’s challenges with a positive mindset instead of a negative one. Three core muscles are at the root of mental fitness: the self-command muscle, which we discussed last time, the saboteur-interceptor muscle which is the focus for today, and the sage muscle which we’ll discuss next time.
Any time we are in negative emotions for more than a few seconds, it’s a sign that we’re being hijacked by a saboteur. The saboteur-interceptor muscle allows us to notice when our thoughts and feelings are being influenced by a saboteur.
To explain the concept of a saboteur, let me introduce the Judge. The Judge is the saboteur that every person has, regardless of culture or country. Some people may think of the judge as the inner critic. This self-criticism is certainly a component of the Judge, but the Judge is even more insidious. It also judges other people and circumstances. Anytime we feel upset about ourselves, someone else or situation, especially one we can’t control, it’s a sign of the judge.
Why is this important? When we stay in negative emotions, the fight or flight stress response kicks in which makes us more impulsive and hinders access to our creativity and intuition. We see fewer options for how to address whatever is causing the negative emotions.
To be clear, negative emotions are not bad. They are needed and useful, similar to how pain warns us to move our hand off a hot stove. But just like burning your hand makes it harder to function effectively, so does staying in negative emotions. The saboteur-interceptor muscle helps us recognize the negative emotions as a sign that something needs to be addressed.
Examples of The Judge and The Opportunity
Lisa: I sometimes get angry when the car in front of me is going 10 miles per hour under the speed limit. That anger is a sign of the Judge. If I were curious, that would be a sign of the Sage – maybe they are carrying an injured person that they don’t want to jostle or maybe they are looking for an address. This anger is a warning that I’m not building enough time into my schedule to account for the unexpected
Wendy: A few weeks ago, my computer crashed, and it took hours to get back up and running. I was stressed and frustrated over this situation that was totally out of my control. My anger let me know that I could choose to respond in a more effective way, rather than letting the judge take over.
What can you do to move out of negative emotions?
When you notice you are in a negative emotion, name it and distance yourself from it by saying “There goes the Judge again. Thanks, but I don’t need you now.” Then do a few self-command exercises by focusing on one physical sensation like your breath or the sensations in your feet. This helps shift your brain out of saboteur mode and into sage mode. In a future episode we will talk more about the science behind this.
Accomplice Saboteurs: The Judge judges the self, others, and circumstances. It also will pull in accomplice saboteurs to keep us from moving forward. Research performed on 500,000 people across 50 countries found that there are 9 accomplice saboteurs that cause nearly all our negative emotions. Different saboteurs show up in varying degrees in different people. These accomplice saboteurs are the Controller, Hyper-Achiever, Restless, Stickler, Pleaser, Hyper-Vigilant, Avoider, Victim and Hyper-Rational. These descriptive names make it easy to see one or more of these saboteurs in ourselves or in others.
To learn which saboteurs may be most active in you, go to www.positiveintelligence.com and take the saboteur assessment. You’ll get a detailed report that can help you better understand how these characters show up in your life. The report describes the different saboteurs, along with the thoughts, feelings and most likely impacts of each of them. This resource is so powerful because once you become aware of how the saboteurs behave, it’s easier to spot them in action in ourselves and others.
I can help you develop a strategy for putting the insights of this plan into action. In addition to working with the saboteur report, I offer a longer program that has been super impactful in helping my clients strengthen their mental fitness and reach their broader goals.
For example, I had a client with a strong victim saboteur who felt like his life was caught in a rut and not moving anywhere. During the program he realized his unrealistically high expectations kept draining him. As he set more achievable goals, he took some bold actions, gained momentum, and now is excited about his future.
I’d love to speak with you about this if you’re interested. You can book a free 30-minute consultation or email me to set up a time to talk.
Next episode: The Sage and The Sage Perspective
Episode 1: What is Mental Fitness and Why Should I Care?
Episode 2: Who’s In Control? Strengthening the Self Command Muscle