The philosophy of the inner saboteur

The minute we decide to change something in our lives, an inner alarm bell goes off. Our tendency to keep things as they are – also known as homeostasis, kicks in and the inner saboteur raises its head, or more accurately, its voice.

That voice that says “Its too big for you to handle” or “you will never make it” that each one of us hears when we try to do something new and exciting, is our saboteur. The saboteur is excellent in taking any plan or idea we have and emphasize all the reasons why it’s a bad idea, why it won’t work, and why there is no point in bothering. The saboteur excels in taking a small piece of truth and making it look like it would seem perfectly logical to stop or never start following our new idea or path.

alarm bell

Doing everything he can

The saboteur will do anything in his power to stop us from changing our current comfortable and warm life. The comfort zone we are currently in is the perfect place for him to live, and he will do anything in its power to prevent us from trying to leave.

He will stop at nothing in order to convince us that everything is perfect just the way it is now. His arguments will sound completely logical and rational. He knows exactly what pressure points to press, and where we feel the most insecure, in order to instill fear so we will change our minds and give up the change we want to perform.

Since our saboteur knows us so intimately, it might prove a bit difficult at first to overcome what he tries to say and go against things that sound oh-so-true.

The good news is that all though it might be a bit difficult at first to object to all the arguments that inner voice whispers, the more we do it, the easier it gets.

What can we do?

I’m sorry to be the one that tells you this, but getting rid of the saboteur completely is impossible. However we can learn to live with it, and with enough practice, we can even train him to become quieter and accept that life is ever changing, and so are we. So he can either accept the fact that we are moving on with our decision, or rant away in some corner far from sight.

How do we do it?

Glad you asked.

Get to know him

The more you get know him, the easier it will be to understand and control him. Get to know what he has to say, when he usually appears, what frightens him the most and what he warns you about. The better you get acquainted, the easier it will be to live together. After all, his not going anywhere.

Note his point of view

The saboteur usually speaks in absolutes, and almost always exaggerates to make thing seem bigger than they really are. Things like “you never”, “you always” are common things to hear. The saboteur might also try to insult or command you, and in that case you could hear things like “you coward”, “you must”, “you cant”. An example of something you might hear him say is “You could never start you own business. You will never attract enough customers to make a living”

Consider his positive side and treat him as a friend rather than an enemy

Contrary to his name, the saboteur can be looked at from a different perspective. When we strip all of the over negative suggestions and remarks, the saboteur just wants to keep the integrity of our lives. When we tone him down a bit, we have the power to consider what he says, and decide for ourselves if what he says really makes sense, or if  listening to his advice might sabotage our progress in life. If the things he says fall in the positive and constructing category, than its perfectly fine to listen to him.

Accept the fact that life has risks

When we accept that everything we do has certain risks, the question we ask ourselves

Antique Bicycle

Antique Bicycle

change from “Is my saboteur right or wrong regarding the change?” to “Are the risks really so high that I’m willing to loose the opportunity to gain something?”.

Just like riding a bicycle (and everything else in life) the more we do it, the better we get at

it.  So the more we put effort  and practice the above methods, the easier it will get to live with your saboteur and train him to be a positive rather than a negative force in your life.

You have already done this before

Now before you go on saying “of course Ido, after you start its all very easy, but making the first step in overcoming the saboteur is hard”, I want to let you know you have already done this in the past.

Think of your greatest achievement in life. remember the good feeling that you felt once you reached your goal? probably. But do you recall all the fears and doubts that went along with it before you reached your goal?

In every achievement in life, we always have doubts that our inner voice points our attention to, but we overcome those doubts and reach our goal none the less.

So yes,you have already managed to overcome your saboteur in the past, and I’m sure you can do it again.


Your saboteur was always there, and he will always be there. The trick is not so much as fight him, but more to recognize that he is a part of you and that you don’t have to automatically listen to everything he says, because most of the time, he’s just exaggerating and fearful. If you find that what he is saying is just over reacting to a change that you decide to make in your lire, just let him speak, but  keep moving forward.

I hope The steps above could help you recognize and train your saboteur. Let me know in the comments how did it go.


9 thoughts on “The philosophy of the inner saboteur

  1. Yes my inner saboteur has been with me as long as I can remember and can be either very loud or talking so fast I can’t even distinguish what is being said. Your words have been a reminder to me to pay attention and slow it down so I can hear what’s rambling on in my head! Otherwise I am being controlled by its opinions without even knowing it.

  2. Wow, what an informative post indeed. The “inner saboteur” or the “inner critic” as Roger mentioned in his comment above is definitely something I’m sure us writers all deal with in our own way but using your insights to help “control” and “understand” the “inner saboteur” inside all of us, will greatly help, that’s for sure. Thanks for sharing this information and glad to have learned something new today.

    • ido

      My Pleasure Chris.
      As soon as we learn that it’s possible to control these voices, we start looking at everything differently, and subsequently we can achieve much more in our life. I think that this is one of the most important things that we can learn about ourselves.

  3. Ido,

    What a brilliant portrait of the inner “saboteur”! It’s clear from your writing that you have got to know your inner saboteur most intimately, and that accepting him and listening to his voice will give me not only the power to defy the saboteur, but to make him into an ally who can help me realistically weigh my options.

    As a writer, I’m profoundly aware of what we call “the inner critic.” That’s just another aspect of the inner saboteur. “This is crap.” “What makes you think you can write?” “Nobody wants to read your crap!” Like the inner saboteur, the critic can never be fully silenced. But he can be calmed, using the very techniques you describe above.

    Great post! And thanks for the support to move me OUT of my comfort zone and into new growth and opportunity!


    • ido

      My pleasure Roger!
      Everyone has these voices, and the name we give them might be different, but they are essentially the same. People who find their living in the creative positions in life (like writers) are very familiar with these voices, like you pointed out. The challenge is, recognizing, and taming those voices to support rather than harm.

  4. Excellent sir… the road to enlightenment eh?

    The inner voices – the saboteur – as you refer to them are simply negative beliefs… and are thus ‘not real’.

    Logic dictates that we don’t need ‘beliefs’ about things that aren’t ‘truths’ – scientifically proven facts. If I stated that I ‘believe’ that the earth tilted and it grew light’, people would quite naturally think there was something seriously wrong with me lol !!

    Our beliefs keep us in the circle of usually only doing the things that have ”worked in the past’.
    Our lives past negative downfalls, failures and tribulations have created these negative beliefs about our abilities or lack of… despite this, there is still a sense of security there.

    Personally, I don’t think our beliefs should ‘be ignored’… we should give them no credence; only by confronting them head on – a painful process! – can we quell their fire.

    Dump ‘beliefs’, they are not real. Lighten the load. The journey of life is so much lighter when we leave our stuff at the road side. It worked for me.

    Peace and regards 🙂

    • ido

      I agree that these beliefs are shaped because of our past experiences, and I also agree that once we understand that the only thing that is holding us back in life, is our own self (which is shaped by those beliefs) we have a much easier life.
      Many people are not always aware that these voices, saboteur or beliefs (call them what you will) are of our own making, and even once they have recognized and accepted that, its not always easy (it almost never is…) changing them. Thats where I try to help, to instruct and give effective tools.

  5. Sam

    Way to go Ido, great site! In today’s world, there is greater need of good life coaches than ever. The question is, how do we find the right coach? You have shared valuable insights here that many will benefit from. In addition, your site is beautiful, easy to follow, and user friendly. Your views on the “inner saboteur” are right on, and concise. I very much enjoyed “The Wheel Of Life Tool”. Everyone needs one! Such a great idea, I wish they handed these out to kids in school. Nice work. The best to you.

    • ido

      Thank you for the kind words, Sam.

      I really look at what I do as a calling, and it’s always fun hearing supportive comments.

      We all have these voices telling us we can’t do the things we really want to do, the only difference between people is how we deal these voices, and how we move on despite them.

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