How Managing Your Self-Talk Builds a Culture of Wellbeing

Positive Intelligence

Most people think the critical voices in their heads help them maintain their record of high achievement.

I’m here to tell you they don’t.

During the last 18 months, nonprofit employees learned how to work from home, juggle family life, and create innovative solutions to continue meeting their missions. 

Despite this phenomenal record of achievement, I still hear employees saying unkind things to themselves.  It’s normal for us to disparage ourselves, but let’s take a moment to see the impact of our destructive thoughts on ourselves and our workplaces.    

We’re likely born pre-wired with amazing strengths.  Perhaps you came into this world confident and persistent, and able to do the right thing, even if it’s unpopular.  You’re awesome!

And over time, you relied on these strengths, and they shaped your view of the world.  In fact, when you faced adversity, a part of you began overusing these traits – and perhaps even abusing them.  At some point, we all began hearing an internal voice that we mistook to be our friend.

“Others want you to take control, and you’re doing them a favor.” 

         “You’re not good enough.” 

“You know the right way. The standards of your staff are too lax.”

          “Your value is based on how much you achieve.”

These critical thoughts promise that you’ll be happier if you can accomplish more, control your surroundings, and create perfect order.  Let’s call these voices what they are – Saboteurs – and recognize that they turn our greatest strengths into our greatest weaknesses.  Every Saboteur lies to us and chips away at our attempts to build a Culture of Wellbeing, where employees are cherished.

The talented folks at Positive Intelligence (PQ), a program grounded in science, determined there are nine Saboteurs and a Judge. (Much of what I’m sharing is from their coach-training program.)  Examples of Saboteurs include the Hyper-Achiever, Controller, and Stickler, and while they pretend to be our friends, in the long run, they generate the opposite of what they promise. 

Are you curious about your own Saboteurs? 

I’m a PQ coach, helping employees who are burning out to reduce their feelings of cynicism and ineffectiveness.  Click here to take a free Saboteur Assessment on the Positive Intelligence website. (I don’t receive any money if you do this.)

When you do take the assessment, remember that your information will remain strictly confidential and it won’t be shared with your organization.

Identifying your Saboteurs is an important step in taking care of yourself and reclaiming lost energy from the vortex of burnout.  As we visualize a post-pandemic world, nonprofit leaders and staff must prioritize their mental and emotional wellbeing.

Also consider that every organization has a culture, and this culture usually reflects the Saboteurs of the top leaders.

Did you catch that?

Your organization’s culture reflects the Saboteurs of your top leaders.  How has this impacted your staff?  When organizations buy into the lie that you must race through the day at a frenetic pace, no one is at their best. 

Key Tips for Taking the PQ Saboteur Assessment

  • Remember that everyone has Saboteurs, and there is no shame here.  There isn’t a specific Saboteur that is more desirable than the others, as they’re all equally destructive.  Also, when we judge ourselves for having Saboteurs, our negative thinking spirals downward.
  • When you see your assessment results, ask yourself, which of the Saboteurs are you most motivated to pursue?  Just focus on one, and as you weaken it, the others will be affected as well.
  • The absolute scores don’t matter, so don’t worry that something is “too high.”  What does matter are your relative scores.  What are your three highest saboteurs?  This is meaningful information.
  • Consider whether your Saboteurs conflict with each other (for example, the High-Achiever and Avoider).  Sometimes people experience one at work and the other at home.
  • Understanding your Saboteurs is a part of being mentally fit, and it’s NOT a label that defines you.  For example, you’re not a Pleaser or Victim.  You’re not broken.  You do, however, have a Saboteur that is a Pleaser or Victim.
  • When you’re recognizing you’re hijacked by a Saboteur, you don’t have to identify exactly which one it is.  While this is interesting, it’s more important that you recognize your negative feelings.
  • Be sure to celebrate your underlying strengths that the Saboteurs overused! 

There has never been a more important time to reduce our stress, and understanding your Saboteurs is a key step to building your mental-fitness muscles and creating a Culture of Wellbeing.

We can do it!

Danielle Collins

P.S. If you’re eager to stop accepting the breadcrumbs offered by your Saboteurs and you want to enjoy a feast, you may be ready for my Mental Fitness Marathon.  In six intense weeks, my clients went from defaulting to their mean-spirited thoughts that created stress and shame at work – to strengthening their neural pathways for empathy, discovery, and joy.