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  • Writer's pictureflorian hoefling

Getting sabotaged by a friend…

Or maybe supposedly a friend…

We all walk through life with a mixed bag of character traits, personality, genetics, skills, competences.

All of these are formed very early in our childhood and enable us to thrive in life.

Of course there is also a part of this baggage that is unpleasant or complicates life.

From my experience at a certain point of time – often when crises hit, conflicts or separations take place, but not always – we all have the need or wish to understand. So we start self-reflection, introspection, we read self-help books or start therapy.

At some point of life it is called – mid-life crises.

I looked it up and according to Wkipedia mid-life-crises starts typically between 45 to 65 years.

So as I have been through some of it already, either I am a hopeless case, or I went through a pre-mid-life-crises.

Regardless the reason, trigger or inflicting point, I have been to the self-help corner in the book stores plenty of times. I did inner child work, I worked on beliefs, I did manifestations, worked on belief systems, did family constellations, therapy, human design…and of course coaching. I like the works of Byron Katie, Marshal Rosenthal, Rosario Londono, Frederic Deltour, Jerry Colonna,...

Nevertheless for me to apply concepts, methods or processes that are “complicated”, “high up in the air”, “spiritual”, “new age”,…always need a lot of commitment, time and space, which is good at times. The things that come easier to me are the pragmatic, hands-on approaches and practical methods/tools/concepts, I can relate to in everyday life.

Within the “Mental Fitness” program I got acquainted with Shirzad Chamine’s concept of “saboteurs”. This concept makes totally sense for me. It comes in a straight forward explanation and fashion, is easy to understand and pragmatically implementable.

I recommend you stop reading now and you take the “saboteur” test immediately. Look at the scores and tell me in the comments how precise the results are and how you can related.

As for most of the inner child work, believe systems…also the “saboteurs” background are in our childhood. They played and essential part in how we were operating in childhood in order to comprehend and navigate the strange and “hostile” word. And same same, when you are grown up, you still have them but the world is not new and dangerous anymore.

So these saboteurs stick around and are disguised as “friends” that continuously help us navigate through life. But once we step out of the comfort zone - the ease and flow state - and into a hectic and stressful environment it will be them who will push us and perpetuate the negative emotions.

Each saboteur is in detail explained on the website:

But for a simplification I list here the saboteurs ranked by my order of impact (so you get a good feeling about the saboteurs and who I am):

- Pleaser: Gains acceptance by giving and pleasing regardless one’s own needs

- Hyper-Achiever: constant high performance for self-validation

- Avoider: flexibly focusing on the pleasant, avoiding the difficult

- Restless: constant search for greater excitement things

- Hyper-Rational: focus on rational processing

- Controller: need to be in charge in any situation

- Stickler: perfectionist

- Hyper-Vigilant: intense anxiety about what could go wrong

- Victim: emotional to gain affection

It is also very important to acknowledge that each of these saboteurs carry an important portion of actual competences and very positive character traits. So these traits in moderations are what people will genuinely appreciate in a person, but overused and abused they turn into nasty saboteurs for oneself – NOT the others.

The basic idea of Mental Fitness is that you create awareness of what is triggering you. As soon as you are aware you are able to shift the focus.

I am in the situation where a person might not like me. I will do anything to assure that the person likes me (the saboteur pleaser is on).

Error mode.

I am in the situation where a person might not like me. I evaluate my needs and based on these I get into appropriate action.

I also try to label the saboteurs as soon they cause negative emotions and try to reframe their action. I make a clear cut between the qualities of each saboteur and the negative / abusive element so for me:

I am not a pleaser – I have a saboteur that is called pleaser – I am a giving and empathic person but I am not pleasing.

So when the next time I feel a saboteur abusing some of my qualities, I am alert and ready to pause.

I think to pause is so essential!


If you want to get a good touch and feel about the concept and also it’s potential, I highly recommend you watch the TED talk of Shirzad:

For the coaches among you, I highly recommend you do the FREE six weeks program lead by Shirzad. Check out:

Photo credit: Metin Seyrek and BECC

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