Have you ever had a family member or team member at work who is constantly worried about something going wrong? Did their constant questioning of your decisions and their anxiety about all the uncertainty drive you nuts? Well, it’s likely you know someone who has a strong Hyper-Vigilant saboteur.
This week I’m sharing with you how you can identify this saboteur and what you can do to manage it – whether it’s showing up in someone else or in yourself. And this is important because – when managed effectively – the strength side of the Hyper-Vigilant brings tremendous benefit to organizations, families, and broader institutions that are a critical part of preserving value and legacy.
If you’d like to first go back and read more about the Judge and the other accomplice saboteurs I’ve been writing about these past several weeks, check out the archive of past blog posts here.
Each week I’ve been describing in more detail one of the 10 saboteurs in the model of Positive Intelligence. By learning more about them, you will be better able to intercept each saboteur (aka catch it when it is subtly or aggressively influencing your mind) and then practice PQ reps to switch to your Sage brain and use our Sage powers. If this terminology is not familiar to you, please read more about the model here.
Alongside the Judge (the strongest saboteur for all of us), one of the 9 accomplice saboteurs is the Hyper-Vigilant. When you are in a situation that triggers your dark side and this saboteur has taken over your mind, you experience intense anxiety about all the dangers and what could go wrong. Your mind spins non-stop to the point it might even trigger a minor panic attack in you, because the negative side of this saboteur never rests.
This initial description may bring to mind family members or team members or neighbors or people with whom you serve on a board. For the purposes of you learning more about this saboteur and how you can manage it, I encourage you to first look inside yourself and be curious about how the Hyper-Vigilant may show up in you. Let’s start by looking at its Strength side.
Strengths of the Hyper-Vigilant
When you are not in Saboteur or survival mode, you can use the Sage parts and easily access and leverage the strength sides of your Hyper-Vigilant. Those strengths include being:*
- Sensitive and aware of true risks and dangers to self, others, and institutions
- the Guardians of families, communities and institutions
- Capable of instituting and preserving systems and structures for order and stability
- Loyal, reliable, dependable, and hardworking
- Capable of persevering and consistently working toward objectives
Definitely valuable strengths that can contribute incredible value to any family or team!
But, what happens when faced with a risky situation, or something you perceive as potentially dangerous? What happens when you are genuinely feeling negative emotions like worry, anxiety, and fear? That is when the saboteur or survivor parts of the brain are activated, and the reality is that the negative behavioral aspects of the saboteur can negatively influence and limit your perceptions and your actions. It can also contribute to harmful inaction. Basically, you are not at your best – and you may be causing damage to yourself and others.
What are the typical negative emotions of the Hyper-Vigilant saboteur?*
- Extreme vigilance
When your Hyper-Vigilant saboteur is controlling your mind, you may be thinking thoughts such as:*
- “When is the other shoe going to drop?”
- “If I make a mistake, everyone is going to jump down my throat.”
- “I want to trust you, but what are your motives?”
- “I need to know what the rules are, although I might not always follow them.”
Watch Out for These Characteristics of the Hyper-Vigilant Saboteur in Yourself and in Others:*
- Always being anxious, and having chronic doubts about yourself and others.
- Experiencing extraordinary sensitivity to signs of danger.
- Constantly expecting mishap or danger.
- Being suspicious of what others are up to.
- Focusing on how and when people mess up.
- Seeking reassurance and guidance in procedures, rules, authorities, institutions.
As a Leader, How to Best Channel the Strengths of a Hyper-Vigilant Team Member?
Referring back to the Strengths of the Hyper-Vigilant provides an important reminder that those with this saboteur, when using their Sage brain and Sage powers, are tremendously valuable for safeguarding what is most precious and valuable. To best utilize the Sage qualities of a Hyper-Vigilant team member, it helps to create a calm, grounded environment to introduce upcoming changes and discuss implications for change. A person with a strong Hyper-Vigilant saboteur will want to preserve institutional knowledge, protect the brand, take care of customers, retain employees, and this perspective – when in Sage mode – is useful in the mix when moving through times of uncertainty and change.
So what can you do to leverage the strength side of your own Hyper Vigilant saboteur?
- Build awareness of the saboteur characteristics so you can catch the negative and stop it in its tracks
- Practice PQ reps and the Sage perspective, critical foundational practices from the Positive Intelligence mental fitness model
- Strengthen your Sage powers to more intentionally and thoughtfully use your vigilance and related strengths
What’s the payoff for doing so?
When you use your Sage brain and the strength side of your saboteurs, you experience your highest level of performance, much greater creativity, and sustained happiness. I want this for you – and for all of us. Imagine a world where we could each be recognized for and best utilize our strengths while minimizing (if not eliminating) the negative side?
Are negative emotions bad all of the time? No. Absolutely not. Negative emotions are useful, but only for one second – just enough time to catch it, use the negative emotions as data points or a signal that tells you “hey, I need to practice some PQ reps so I can switch to Sage brain, and look for the gifts and opportunities of this situation.”
The next time someone with a strong Hyper-Vigilant saboteur comments with great vehemence about the danger of an activity or decision you are considering, take some deep breaths, do some PQ reps, and consider from your own Sage brain: what might be the underlying wisdom or gift from this person’s point of view? By responding from a place of calm, you will be less likely to further trigger the other person’s saboteur and more likely you both benefit from taking a Sage approach.
To learn more about how to do this, and which of your saboteurs are strongest, I invite you to meet with me for a Saboteur Diagnosis session at no cost. SCHEDULE HERE.
*Source: Shirzad Chamine and his Positive Intelligence mental fitness model. Erin is in the process of competing her certification with Shirzad and his team.