Ten Saboteurs that Prevent Your Happiness and Success

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Self-sabotage involves a negative mindset that may reduce your motivation, hinder your chances for success and happiness, and prevent you from reaching your potentials in all aspects of life. Negative beliefs about your abilities, intelligence, and traits can lead to low self-esteem and impair your mental health.

Self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors stem from our childhood experiences. People sometimes develop self-sabotaging patterns of thinking, feeling, and behavior in childhood to survive the real and imagined threats to their mental and physical well-being. 

These sabotaging patterns become imprinted in our neural pathways, causing us to stick to our childhood Saboteurs even when we no longer need them.  

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A life coach and author of Positive Intelligence, Shirzad Chamine recognizes these self-sabotaging thought patterns as Saboteurs – symbolic villains that often live in our minds.

Why We Self Sabotage

Sometimes, we reach for our inner Saboteur because of our need to stay in control. We may reach for self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviors to gain a sense of control and cope with stress and anxiety.

For example, your Avoider may tell you that you are a good person because you always avoid conflicts. However, conflicts and difficult situations are also opportunities for growth and improvement, so you would probably do better if you face them in your everyday life and relationships.

Most of us are not immune to self-sabotage. The Saboteurs reside in our minds, triggering anger, shame, disappointment, and other negative emotions. Understanding the different ways in which we can sabotage ourselves may give you a better insight into your own self-sabotaging style. However, keep in mind that most people fall into more than one self-sabotaging category, as we reach for several forms of self-sabotage depending on the situation.

So, here are the ten types of Saboteurs to help you recognize and overcome your own self-sabotaging behaviors:

  1. The Judge
  2. Controller
  3. Hyper-achiever
  4. Restless 
  5. Stickler
  6. Pleaser
  7. Hyper-vigilant 
  8. Avoider
  9. Victim
  10. Hyper-rational 

The Judge

This is the master Saboteur we all have – the inner voice that keeps telling you that you are not good enough, beating you up for past mistakes, warning you about possible risks, and keeping you awake at nights worried about all things that could go wrong in your life. 

The Judge is your inner critic that provokes other Saboteurs, keeping you in a vicious cycle of self-blame, guilt, regret, and shame. The Judge will use the assistance of other Saboteurs to reduce your productivity, harm your relationships, and diminish your chances for success and happiness. It is often the source of your stress, anxiety, and depression, so it is essential to recognize your inner Judge and learn how to overcome it.


Controller is the anxiety-provoked Saboteur that wants to take charge and control every situation. This inner force pushes you to connect with others through competition and conflicts instead of through emotions and bonding. 

The controller causes you to experience a great deal of anxiety when things are not going your way, leading to conflicts in your relationships because you always push and intimidate people.

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Hyper-achiever focuses on achievement. Because of this Saboteur, your self-respect depends on your performance and accomplishments, turning you into a workaholic and perfectionist, never satisfied with yourself. You feel worthy only when you are successful because your Hyper-achiever pushes you to be the best at everything you do. This often causes you to feel empty and depressed inside. 

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This Saboteur is responsible for your constant fear of missing out, impatience and dissatisfaction, causing you to always seek new stimulation. Restless Saboteur is constantly searching for excitement, avoiding focusing on here and now, and never at peace with things as they are. 


Stickler is responsible for your perfectionism and an excessive need for organization and order. It is the inner voice that makes you highly critical of yourself and others. This Saboteur is the source of constant frustration, anxiety, and disappointment of self and others for not being perfect.


Pleaser is the Saboteur that has an excessive need to be liked and accepted by other people, so it constantly tries to gain acceptance by pleasing others. Because of your Pleaser, you lack assertiveness, struggling to express your needs openly and directly. You put others’ needs above your own, feeling upset when they don’t notice or care about your sacrifices. 

saboteurs quote


Hyper-vigilant Saboteur doesn’t allow you to rest. It causes intense and ongoing anxiety about what could go wrong in your life. As a result, you constantly doubt yourself and others, continually feeling anxious and extremely alert.


This Saboteur makes it hard to say “no” to other people’s demands and things you don’t actually want.

The Avoider uses passive-aggressive strategies to avoid conflicts and resist others instead of directly expressing their own needs.

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The Victim is excessively dramatic and unconsciously drawn to difficulties. This Saboteur causes you to suppress anger covering it with depression. This occurs because it believes that sadness and sensitivity will earn you the love and attention you deserve. The Avoider makes you feel abandoned, isolated, and lethargic. 


The Hyper-rational Saboteur is all about the rational mind. This is which is why other people may perceive you as distant and cold. This is because you tend to hyper-rationalize everything, shouting out emotions and needs. This Saboteur is frustrated when others are being emotional, often making you come across as cynical and intellectually arrogant. 

To defeat our Saboteurs, we need to identify and acknowledge them first. Then, according to Chamine, we need to focus on the “Sage,” which is the positive side of our minds. It is the voice of positive emotion, calm, and truth. 

How to Overcome Your Saboteurs?

Chamine believes that we can achieve this by improving our positive intelligence quotient (PQ) that represents the parts of our positive experiences because only a happy brain can be successful, capable, and resourceful.

Research in organization science and neuroscience supports Chamine’s claims. They show that happier individuals and teams are more productive and successful at work.

When working with me, my clients and I are deep into this. If you would like to see where coaching with me could take you, book a time to speak at www.chatwithkamini.com

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Kamini Wood

Kamini Wood is a Certified Life Coach, and best-selling author. Her mission is to empower high-performing adults and teens to become resilient self-leaders by reducing stress and anxiety, overcoming imposter syndrome, working through trauma, and re-discovering their AuthenticMe®.

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