Over the last few years, we have conducted numerous presentations on managing stress. Certainly, our lives are made more difficult by events over which we have very little or no control. COVID and the war in Ukraine are significant examples. Stressors also come from the weather, traffic jams, and countless decisions made by other people. As true as it is that stress comes from the outside, it can also be caused by what’s on our inside.

Shirzad Chamine, an expert in the field of positive intelligence, has helped us understand this by identifying saboteurs that reside in our mind.

Saboteurs are negative mental habits. They operate as an internal enemy that, although working against our best interest, try to convince us through their lies that they are working for us. As such, they become habitual mind patterns that automatically show up in life experiences. Based on a particular saboteur’s beliefs and assumptions, our saboteurs have their own voice and deliver a script to us that is repeated over time. If we remain unaware of our saboteurs, they will wreck any attempt at increasing our happiness or effectiveness. However, if we can name our saboteurs and recognize their script, we can minimize their negative impact on our lives.

Our next few Wellness Wednesdays will focus on uncovering these negative mental habits so we can experience less stress and more peace of mind. We’ll begin with two saboteurs: Judge and Hyper-Vigilant.


Judge is the master saboteur that compels you to find fault with yourself, others, and your conditions and circumstances. The Judge uses the tactic of blame and can be recognized by its “Not ___ enough” script: “I’m not good enough…smart enough…pretty enough…skinny enough.”

Judging is an important and essential human capacity. For example, we make judgements when we are driving about how fast to go or whether or not to pass another car. But the judge that is a saboteur is a critical voice in our head that never gives up. No matter what, it will find something to complain about.

Mary Lou Varela, a teacher at St. Anthony School in Washington and faithful Wellness Wednesday reader, shares, “It’s not our job to judge people. It’s our job to understand them. We never know what another person is going through, so be kind and be patient.”


Hyper-Vigilant is the worry saboteur that makes you feel intense and continuous anxiety about all the dangers surrounding you and what could go wrong. This saboteur can even get activated by worrying about what someone may be thinking. The script for the hyper-vigilant is something like: “Look out. Something is about to go wrong.”

Yes, there are things in life that we ought to be concerned about, but the worry saboteur takes this to an extreme. Although it appears to be looking out for us, it  jeopardizes the peace of mind we could be experiencing in the moment. We are better off if we learn from Mark Twain, who apparently suffered with his own hyper-vigilant saboteur and once said, “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”


  1. Do the Judge or Hyper-Vigilant saboteurs reside in your head? If so, what is their script? What do they say to you?
  2. Be alert to their showing up in your life this week. When they do, identify them by name and let them know that you aren’t listening to them anymore. Because they are habits, they will come back. However, each time you recognize and challenge them, they get quieter and lose their power to control your thinking.

From our Top 20 team…Kevin Brennan, Willow Sweeney, and Tom Cody.

Paul Bernabei, Director
Top 20 Training