So what is ‘the inner saboteur’?
Many of us live with a kind of inner saboteur on a more or less permanent basis. It’s the voice in our heads that tells us we’re not good enough, lucky enough, capable enough – worthy enough.
It might start as a harmless tendency to be too critical of ourselves, but eventually it can grow to the point where it becomes damaging and debilitating.
It’s a mental habit that can rob us of life’s depths and richness.
We miss opportunities to enjoy ourselves, to evolve, succeed, or to forge new friendships because of that saboteur. Instead of seizing the moment with both hands when life presents us with an opportunity, we divide ourselves inwardly. It’s self-sabotage.
The inner saboteur is a deeply ingrained aspect of our fictitious, self-created persona. It can be compared to a parasite, feeding on our precious mental and emotional energy.
How does it operate?
It operates from a place of insecurity and fear, and the only way it can survive is to hide in the shadows, and whisper from the sidelines:
- “You’ll just make a fool of yourself. It’s not that much fun anyway…”
- “You don’t have any real talent, people will see right through you…”
- “You don’t have a creative bone in your body. You haven’t had a good idea in years…”
- “People suspect you’re weak and spineless. Besides, you’re not that likeable anyway…”
It’s an endless stream of negative self-speak, and it drains our energy, and undermines us at every turn.
It’s easy to justify these patterns of thinking and feeling to ourselves. We can even confuse this kind of thinking with a healthy process of introspection, or self-enquiry – which lies at the heart of meditation.
So how can meditation help us get rid of our inner saboteur?
Understand the process
Fear and negativity survive in the shadows of our consciousness, hidden between the folds, so to speak. We don’t allow those ugly feelings to tarnish our façade – the face we show to the world.
They operate in the background, just beyond the reach of our attention, and we’re only subliminally aware of the effects – when outer circumstances in life mirror those hidden thoughts and feelings.
That’s the theoretical explanation – but how does it work in real life?
Someone invites you on an outing, for example. It’s an opportunity to get out of your shell, and live a little. But the inner saboteur feels threatened, and fills your thoughts with reasons to decline the invitation.
“I don’t have time. I’m too busy. It’s not important. Besides, they don’t really want me to come along anyway, they’re just being polite.”
As a result, you stay behind, wallowing in self-pity, regret, and negativity, but outwardly you pretend that nothing is wrong, and soldier on.
We tend to ignore, bury or hide those negative aspects from others and from ourselves too. We’re experts at it. The inner saboteur gains energy from negativity, and resists coming out into the open.
Is there a way to overcome it?
When fear and negativity encounter the light of consciousness, they cannot hide, and they cannot survive for long. After all, if we have a choice, we would choose the better option – hope, acceptance, and positive action.
Conscious attention dissolves negativity; Analysis fuels it
Sustained conscious attention is a powerful antidote to self-sabotage.
The more conscious we choose to become, the more present, alert and awake we are to our deepest thoughts and feelings, the less chance an inner parasite has of surviving.
The moment you become aware of the conversation in your head, you can let go of it, or change it.
You’re no longer swept along by the current. You get to change your inner conversation, and thereby change your inner world.
During meditation the strong beam of consciousness is turned inwards, lighting up our interior worlds of thoughts and feelings, and exposing whatever is accumulating there. We are practicing the subtle art of awareness, or natural presence. We are deepening and broadening that beam of consciousness.
By holding your attention firmly in place as ‘the observer’ beyond words and concepts, you begin to rise above the mental chatter altogether. You’re no longer caught up in it.
In this way, Meditation isn’t the same as self-analysis.
Many of us do too much of that already. We criticise ourselves for every imagined failure, shortcoming or mistake. We internally report back to ourselves about our imagined progress, or lack of it.
Analysis might give us lots of data about our habits, patterns and personalities, but that’s all still just intellectual, theoretical, and disconnected from our true core. Yes, self-analysis has its place, but it tends to tie us up into mental knots, and to make us feel tight and congested in the head.
Meditation helps dissolve that tightness and resistance we feel inwardly, so we can accept ourselves with all our faults, yet still work to improve.
If you’d like to find out more about meditation, and how it relates to the process of self-enquiry, why not download our new Meditation Course for Busy People in the Modern World?
It’s a practical guide that shows you how to use meditation to overcome self-sabotage, and improve your life. There’s an ebook and a series of guided meditations for complete beginners.