I can’t tell you how often I get to a point in session with a client where they have just shared some details about the difficult situation they are struggling with and I say something like, “I know this may not make sense from where you sit, but this is actually really good news!” It’s confusing, and I’m sure sometimes they want to hit me, and I don’t blame them.

That’s where we are now in our exploration of the Saboteur. Please don’t hit me.

So what have we covered so far? The ego and the nervous system are both opposed to change that takes them too far out of their comfort zone. It doesn’t matter if it is change you are desiring and even working to create, all your efforts can be undermined, counterbalanced, and undone if they feel sufficiently threatened.

We get caught in a paradox. Most of the things we are wanting, seeking, and working to create are things we don’t have and are therefore unfamiliar to us. Unfortunately “the unknown” (regardless of how good we’ve decided it will be, or how much we want it) tends to send us deep into the stress zone, activating the Saboteur.

This brings us to the good news:

The Saboteur doesn’t show up for no reason. It doesn’t get bored, it doesn’t torture you for its own amusement. It responds to the specter of radical change and catastrophic unfamiliarity, which the ego perceives as a threat to its survival.

But if we look at the situation from another angle it can be described quite differently:

The Saboteur has been activated by the presence of “possibility.”

In other words the prospect of expanding your business, or losing all that weight, or getting out of debt seemed too real. It wants you to believe you do not have the choices it feels threatened by; you’re never going to have the time to write that book, you’re never going to get organized enough to restructure your business, you’re never going to be able to focus long enough on one thing to see this new idea through.

But the truth is that the Saboteur emerged in the first place because something started to feel very possible. You started talking about it, thinking of actually doing it, maybe even taking steps.

We don’t sabotage our dreams; we sabotage our potential realities.

It wants you to believe it can’t be done and you are not capable anyway. The goal is for you to feel bad about yourself and overwhelmed by the situation. What I’m suggesting is that when you notice yourself getting in your own way, you say instead, “Apparently my dream is dangerously possible. I must be on to something!”

Unfortunately this is easier said than done because the Saboteur knows you extremely well, it has access to all your information, because it is you. It knows which beliefs about yourself to activate to attack your self-esteem, it knows what barriers to present you with to kill your energy or overload you, and it knows the perspective to take on the situation and the way the world works in order to make progress seem impossible.

However, even this can be a great gift if you look at it differently. When you are willing and able to stay conscious and observe the Saboteur at work then it will teach you exactly how and why it operates. Basically, you can follow your fear and decode its playbook.

Do you recognize an opportunity impersonating one of your blocks or breakdowns?

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