How to Tame
Your Self Sabotaging

Dear Springboard:

I’ve slipped into a funk.

There are so many big things going on. I don’t feel like I’m in control of my life anymore.

How can I regain my balance?

Sign me,

Feeling Wobbly

Dear FW:

Just this morning, I heard Matt, a friend and colleague, say that it sometimes feels like 16 years since March.

Yes, we are living through an unusually stressful time and the uncertainty is surely exacerbating the impact.

This is a challenging time. I think it can be helpful to be reminded that while we can’t control what happens in the world around us . . . we can control how we respond.

Too often people react with a defensive or negative outlook. This is because the primitive part of our brains is wired to be hyper alert to dangers—very helpful in prehistoric days when living was mostly about survival.

But we all still have that inner voice. It means to keep us safe but instead keeps us small.

We call these voices Saboteurs.

A productive way of deal with these Saboteurs is to shift our perspective from the fear-based part of our brain (amygdala) to the executive function part (pre-frontal cortex). Essentially, we want override an automatic reaction.

These dynamics have been explored in depth by Shirzad Chamine in his very accessible book, Positive Intelligence.

Noting that our mind can be our friend or our enemy, Chamine has developed an assessment to determine one’s Positive Intelligence Quotient, or PQ, a score represented as a percentage of how much of the time your mind is your friend or your enemy.

His extensive research has determined that a score of 75 is a tipping point. It means that our mind is serving us about 75% of the time and sabotaging 25% of the time. Above 75, we are uplifted by the internal self-talk and below that, we are being dragged down.

He says that a dramatic 80% of individuals and teams score below this critical tipping point.

To get your own free report, you can access the assessment online by clicking here.

The good news is that we can increase our PQ score. Chamine has documented many benefits of higher scores that include less stress, anxiety, anger and guilt and better outcomes like more success, greater happiness that lasts plus many health benefits.

The basic approach is to increase our awareness of that inner voice that is the Saboteur and replace it with what he calls our Sage.

The Sage has a Yes, AND perspective and perceives circumstances with a positive mindset that spans objective to optimistic. The Sage reframes challenges to opportunities, and always sees possibilities.

The Saboteur may experience an encounter negatively and ruminate – and thus reinforce the negative. Chamine refers to this as being like touching a hot stove and then leaving a hand there!

As all change starts with awareness, it helps to understand the shape shifting nature of the Saboteurs. Chamine has categorized many different ways they show up and how they
impact us.

The Judge is the master saboteur for all of us. It criticizes us, others, circumstances — basically everything. Plus, it separates us from others by making us feel better than, less than or both.

The other versions of the Saboteur are listed below and their voices are what their names sound like:


Chamine offers a second free online assessment that reports on the relative strength of these nine accomplice Saboteurs for an individual. To access that assessment for a free report, click here.

I want to leave you on a more upbeat note.

Once you have a sense of the relative power of your Saboteur and its accomplices, you can turn your attention to strengthening your Sage.

Chamine proposes that the Sage has five powers and your Sage can be strengthened through these:

Empathize – put yourself in their shoes
Explore – gather data before deciding
Innovate – consider new possibilities
Navigate – find alignment with deeper values and meaning
Activate – take action without Saboteur interference

Training our brain to develop new habits of thought takes effort over an extended period of time.

Shifting attention to our Sage from our Saboteurs can pay big dividends. It’s worth the effort.

 From the Watercooler


Self-sabotage is misguided self-love.

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