Last month life and career coach (and chef) Nicole Aloni helped us discover our values in the first post in her three-part series, Three Keys for Personal Chefs to Enjoy More Balance and Fulfillment in 2015 (heck, any year) for à la minute. Together the three posts in this series guide us in how to bring more ease, more fulfillment, and more mastery to every aspect of our life–from our careers to our relationships. Nicole feels that these are some of the most valuable skills she shares with her coaching clients. Nicole is a long-time friend of APPCA and has given inspiring programs at several of our national meetings.

Nicole Aloni

This month Nicole addresses:

Part 2: How to Identify and Manage Your Internal Saboteurs

by Nicole Aloni

The new year is a time to reflect and re-evaluate, to consider goals, and re-think our priorities. This three-part series offers an overview of some of the most valuable skills I share with my coaching clients. These can be powerful tools for discovering how to bring more ease, more fulfillment, and more mastery to every aspect of your life–from your career to your relationships.

There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time. This expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium; and be lost. The world will not have it. — Martha Graham

Are you sometimes —perhaps often— aware of thoughts zooming around the periphery of your mind that put you on edge? Quick critical blurts that remind you of how: inept, short, old, selfish, ignorant, childish, overweight, weak, etc.— you are? Or the voice that says, “You’re toohomely, unrealistic, inexperienced, untrained, ordinary, boring—to even THINK of attempting ­­­some goal or dream you long for.”

This is the language of your internal saboteur. Your saboteur can be a man, a woman, an animal, a reptile…anything. There can be one main offender or there may be a posse. You can recognize the handiwork of a saboteur by how it makes you feel—small, disheartened, maybe even hopeless. Their critical monologues always make you doubt yourself and are expert at stirring up fear and anxiety.

Neuroscientists have done remarkable work in recent years uncovering the influences that have created these critical voices we all hear. You may eventually want to check out some of this research. But for now, it’s important that you learn the practical skills necessary to recognize and manage your internal saboteur. This begins by gaining insight into how these critters work and where they hang out. These are the first steps to developing the ability to recognize just who is talking when your head is buzzing with negative junk. Then you can begin to set the saboteur’s opinions aside from your authentic, powerful self.

A life coach can help you do some special exercises designed to identify your saboteur (I sometimes refer to them as gremlins). However, in this article I will show you how to get some clarity about this issue on your own. It’s a great opportunity to start on the road toward a more fulfilling and joyful life—with a lot less backchat.

My chief saboteur looks like a cross between Bob Hoskins as Scrooge and a Roald Dahl troll. His name is Rex and he speaks in a raspy, cranky growl that I can imitate when needed. He always has a crafty little sneer on his face. Rex commonly reminds me that I’m too old to- (fill in the blank). I first noticed him using that barb when I was about 37.

Through work with my first coach, I identified Rex and then learned a number of saboteur management strategies. One of my favorites is to focus on making him as small as a flea and dropping him into a spice bottle. I screw on the lid and put that harmlessly squeaking jar in the back of my closet. Or, if he’s been especially fierce, I may stand on my balcony and throw the bottle into the ocean where his squeaky protests grow quieter as he floats further out to sea. Depends.

Clients have shared some their fabulous saboteur dialog with me which ranges from, “You don’t know anything” to “Whoa boy, you better keep your head down or they’ll figure out who you really are!” to “You’re not interesting enough to get that _____.” The following is a Saboteur Discovery Exercise to help you start listening for your own “gremlins.”


Once you have completed that exercise you will be ready to start putting this knowledge into practice. Listen for those voices and when they creep in, use the strategies you developed in the Saboteur Discovery Exercise to put a headlock on your saboteur.

What steps are you taking this year to improve your career and life in general?

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.

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