My inner saboteurs were my most vital allies until they became my enemies

A saboteur is a person who deliberately damages or destroys things. How could a saboteur be a good thing in my life then? It never was a good thing, but some of the impacts were useful earlier in my journey. 

My business coach/therapist helped me realize that my inner saboteurs were not a good thing. She helped me appreciate how 3 in particular would limit my long term success. All attributes are coming from positive intelligence.

  1. Hyper-AchievingI depended on consistent achievement for self-validation. I was focused on external successes, leading to unsustainable workaholic tendencies.
  2. Control freakWhen I was anxious, I needed to take charge and control situations and people’s actionsNo surprise, I was obsessed with everything that would help me understand people better, e.g., negotiation, cultural differences, behavior economics, NLP, etc…
  3. RestlessI was constantly in search of more incredible excitement. I was rarely at peace or content with my current activities. 

First, let me explain why these 3 saboteurs served me right at some point. In an environment where you rarely get 2nd chances, you need to work twice as hard as cis-gender white men. And one way to overachieve is to control everything and be restless. We all love “winners.” When I got accepted to fancy schools, the behavior of some people changed immediately. When I got fancy consulting jobs, people looked up to me. 

What’s the problem then? Let’s stay specific with the downsides of:

  1. Being a hyper-Achiever
    1. Peace and happiness are short-lived in brief celebrations of achievement.
    2. Losing touch with deeper self and ability to connect deeply with others.
  2. Being a control freak
    1. Getting temporary results but at the cost of others feeling controlled and resentful
    2. Generating a great deal of anxiety as many things in work and life are ultimately not controllable.
  3. Being restless
    1. Escaping being present and dealing with unpleasant ongoing things.
    2. Avoiding focusing on the issues and relationships that truly matter.

Not so good, after all. What’s the point of achieving if you do not enjoy it. What’s the point of being a control freak if you are hurting others? For how long can one avoid some aspects of life?

We hear a lot about mental health at the moment. I did not get what mental health was for a long time. I thought it was for other people. I believed that I needed more money/friends/etc first, and then everything else will fall into place. With the openness of Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka, we see that more fame/medals/etc… still requires you to work on your mental health.

I see that mental health is not black or white, but instead, it is all the shades of grey in between that you need to flex depending on the situation and where you are in life. We need this ongoing introspection to see what is changing, becoming more or less critical, and the best way forward. It takes time, but it is may be the best investment we can make.