Your Tendency To Self-Sabotage Can Actually Work In Your Favor If You Want It To
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Your Tendency To Self-Sabotage Can Actually Work In Your Favor If You Want It To

So here's to you, friend: facing and embracing your inner Saboteur.

Your Tendency To Self-Sabotage Can Actually Work In Your Favor If You Want It To

Have you ever realized you couldn't do everything on your to-do list and so resolved to do none of it? Do you fret about not being able to pay rent this month, meet your career goals, or find the romantic person you're meant to be with?

Perhaps you deliberately construct internal walls around your heart and keep people at arm's length until they've proven themselves sufficiently worthy of your trust—when you start dating someone or make a new friend, you instantly rush to the worst-case scenario.

That's the Saboteur—the third archetype of survival that seeks above all to protect you from pain. Ironically, when you're in the shadow side of the Saboteur—unaware of the way she's driving your decisions and reactions—her very efforts to protect you from pain end up creating even more pain.


The first step to growth is awareness. Begin noting when you emotionally shrink back from a relationship because you're worried about the outcome, or when conflicts happen in your relationships or life. Note when you make plans to pursue something you want—from a soaring dream to a to-do list—and then become hindered or give up because failure seems too difficult to deal with. If you find yourself consistently letting other people talk or walk over you, that's the Saboteur.

The Saboteur will draw you into self-destructive behavior and dramatic stories about others' intentions toward you. We've all heard of the jokes making fun of girls whose boyfriends don't text back for hours or send a text without an emoticon, and the girl instantly thinks, "He hates me! He's breaking up with me!" That's the Saboteur. Many of us have had a friend or lover who texted us "k" in response to a chatty text and immediately frantic thoughts plunged into our heads about what such a curt reply means for the relationship. (If you haven't had this experience, maybe you're the awful person who texts a "k" and triggers the Saboteur in all your friends.

Your Deepest Fears

A quick hack to figuring out when your Saboteur is manifesting is to think of your three deepest fears: the fears that drive and control you most. If you're drawing a blank—or conversely, you can't choose just three, because you feel afraid of everything—think about some common fears: being ignored, being unloved, being alone, being in pain, fear over failure, fear over what other people say—inadequacy, worthlessness, missing out, losing control, being judged.

Think back to a situation that didn't go the way you wanted it to—a relationship, the way you dealt with stress or anger, etc. Which of these fears was underlying it? When you're afraid of something--usually of being in pain in some way--your Saboteur will pop up to defend you.


Living into the light side of the Saboteur opens your awareness of all the many ways that you undermine your decisions and yourself. The Saboteur will make you aware of situations that could cause potential pain and allow you to make an actualized, growth-focused decision on the path you—not your reactions—choose to take. The Saboteur will warn you of situations where you are beginning to sabotage yourself or be sabotaged by others.

When you're prepping for a first date and feeling a rush of anxiety—from just nervousness over your outfit or choice of bar to wondering if you should just not show up altogether—check in with yourself. Do you think this relationship is doomed before it starts? Is your soul weary from rejection? Would you rather not try at all than try and fail?

If you say yes to a request by a friend or coworker and then find yourself regretting it, ask yourself: why did you say yes to begin with? What were you afraid of would happen if you didn't say yes?

When you find yourself struggling with fear, ask what it would take for you to act with courage. What are you most afraid of? That someone doesn't like you, that you'll never find true love, that you won't succeed at your dream—that you won't even make it through your to-do list? The Cowardly Lion's your spirit animal here: you're seeking courage, at all costs. Pinpoint your fear and then ask yourself what you would choose to do if this fear was suddenly gone.


You can spend your life with the Saboteur constantly undermining and sabotaging you—or you can use her to illuminate your deepest fears, face them with courage, and live a life of choice and love. It's hard to face your fears—after all, fear and pain is what created these archetypes of survival, to begin with. If we didn't have to struggle to survive, we wouldn't need the Saboteur at all. It's hard to fight against instinct powered by fear—but it's worth it.

So here's to you, friend: facing and embracing your inner Saboteur.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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