Meet Your Internal Saboteurs

by: hawkgrrrl

June 26, 2012

I recently read about a book called Positive Intelligence.  (Clearly if I were more of a stickler, I would have actually read the book and not just about it.)  For those of you familiar with Emotional Intelligence, this is a slightly more accessible related assessment, one that has more to do with identifying the self-sabotaging behaviours you habitually resort to that undermine your well-being.  The free assessment only takes 5 minutes and is found here.

My top 3 were:  Restless (hence the blogging and globe-trotting), Hyper-achiever (ahem, high powered career), and Hyper-rational (hence the use of the word “hence”).  Click on the link to see what yours are.

What were your top 3 personal saboteurs?

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As I thought about how people behave in relation to the church, these self-sabotaging behaviours definitely manifest in some unique ways.  Here are a few I have seen:

  1. Stickler. These are the perfectionists.  They stress over being perfect parents, perfect church members, doing their callings well, and checking all the Mormon boxes.  They don’t want to go to hell for driving 56 in a 55 speed limit zone, but alas, they fear they might.
    • Matthew 5:48.  “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
    • Others may find these people exhausting, too critical or impossible to please.
    • Their underlying need is to quiet their own fear of judgment from others by being perfect.
  2. Pleaser. These are the people who want to be liked and want approval from others, especially authority figures.  They worry about what people think of them, and eventually can become resentful or as though they have lost their sense of self.
    • Psalms 12:2.  “They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak.”
    • Others may become dependent on being rescued by these folks.
    • Their underlying need is to earn love through their self-imposed sacrifices because they don’t feel worthy of love.
  3. Hyper-vigilant. Paranoid?  Perhaps.  These are worrywarts who are always on the look for danger, assuming people can see right through them.
    • D&C 88:81.  “Behold, I sent you out to testify and warn the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor.”
    • Others may consider these people to be crackpots or cranks who cry wolf.
    • Their underlying need is to ward off danger and be safe.  Life has taught them that security is fleeting and the world is a dangerous place.  But you should see their food storage!
  4. Restless. These people get bored when there is repetition or too much sitting still.  The three hour block is like a prison sentence, but their trusty iPad or perhaps a calling in nursery keeps them engaged.
    • Exodus 23:12.  “Six days thou shalt do thy work, and on the seventh day thou shalt rest.”
    • Others may say these people have ADHD or a short attention span.
    • Their underlying need is to escape the present reality which lets them avoid unpleasant things and nurture themselves by finding excitement.
  5. Controller.  Unrighteous dominion, anyone?  These folks are pushy, direct and will tell you exactly how it should be.  Even when they delegate, they do so with very clear instructions so that they are still in control of what others do.
    • Psalm 55:22.  “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee.”
    • Others may find these people to be impatient micro-managers who create anxiety in the people around them.
    • Their underlying need is a fear of being controlled by others or by circumstances.
  6. Avoider.  These people procrastinate.  They might be interested in church history, but that Rough Stone Rolling book is just so long.  Maybe later.  What? It’s the end of the month already?  Didn’t get to my home teaching, again.  Oh well, that gives me another month.  These folks also don’t want to confront a bad situation and will instead be superficial to avoid unpleasantness.
    • Alma 34:33.  “I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end.”
    • Others may find these people unreliable and indirect.
    • Their underlying need is to avoid conflict and unpleasant emotions.  They want to keep the peace at all costs.
  7. Hyper-achiever.  These people don’t want to fail at whatever they set their mind to.
    • Ecclesiastes 9:11.  “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”
    • Others may find this person too focused on their goals or success or too selfish.
    • Their underlying need is to prove to themselves through constant achievement that they are worthy of love.
  8. Victim.  When things get tough, life is really unfair, and these guys can tell you why.
    • 1 Nephi 16:1.  “Thou hast declared unto us hard things, more than we are able to bear.”
    • Others may find this person negative or whiny; they may feel powerless to help them.
    • Their underlying need is to be seen, to get attention.
  9. Hyper-rational. The classic gospel doctrine teacher.  Well-researched, skeptical, and logical.  Professorial even.  These folks don’t like emotions and are more comfortable analysing relationships than being in them.
    • 2 Nephi 9:29.  “But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God.”
    • Others may find this person to be too intellectual, arrogant or cold.
    • Their underlying need is to prove their competence or to create order in a chaotic environment.

Do you sabotage yourself in any of these ways in your church life?  How about at work and in your personal life?  Do you think some of these contribute more closely with church disaffection or difficulty fitting in?


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22 Responses to Meet Your Internal Saboteurs

  1. Stephen Marsh on June 26, 2012 at 6:18 AM

    Unwilling to register to take an internet test … that’s me ;)

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  2. Marjorie Conder on June 26, 2012 at 6:42 AM

    Like Stephen, I am also unwilling to register to take the test, but reading through your descriptions I’m pretty sure where I fall.

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  3. Andrew S. on June 26, 2012 at 7:33 AM

    re 1


    I fell for registering, but it seems that you can fill in fake details and it will still work. If you put in a real email address, your results will be emailed to you…but even if you don’t, the site will show you your results anyway.

    I don’t want to be endlessly negative (there’s my Judge of Others coming out…), but this sort of typology brought out everything bad of the “just-so stories” of evolutionary psychology. It seems like it all is really calculated just to selling a book (even more than these things normally are.)

    OK, but to actually contribute to the thread.

    My top three were Stickler, Controller, and Avoider. (I don’t think that’s saying too much, though, because all but 3 saboteurs were over 6.5 — it would probably be more accurate to say that my lowest three were restless, hyper-vigilant, and pleaser.)

    I have no idea how any of these might contribute with church disaffection or difficulty fitting in — it just seems like speculating is just to craft more “just-so stories”

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  4. NewlyHousewife on June 26, 2012 at 7:35 AM

    I registered with a fake name and email (, wherever you are, I apologize for all the spam I send you).

    My top three were Hyper-Achiever, Controller and Avoider. It’s been awhile since I’ve had a calling, but generally in my personal life if it’s something I truly care about (like school) I’ll go to the ends of the earth to do it. So I guess if inspiration, or sheer luck, leads to a perfect calling then life will be great! If I get paired with someone who creates tension, which is more likely, then I’ll just be a slacker avoiding my duties.

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  5. Mike S on June 26, 2012 at 8:17 AM

    Top 3: Restless, avoider, hyper-rational
    Lowest: Hyper-vigilant, controller

    Having looked at this (and other tests), I do think there are certain people for whom the LDS Church makes the best “fit”. There are other people for whom another way of approaching God probably makes more sense.

    Unfortunately, “one true Church” implies “one size fits all”. I think this is one of the fundamental issues why some people have no problem at all with the Church and others seem to struggle with it. The one’s who don’t have a problem completely don’t “get” the other ones, and vice versa.

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  6. Angela on June 26, 2012 at 9:15 AM

    I just had two that stuck out above the rest: pleaser and avoider. You can tell I’m an avoider because I stopped writing the manuscript I’m supposed to working on to take this test. Grrr.

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  7. Frank Pellett on June 26, 2012 at 11:38 AM

    Restless, Hyper-rational, stickler, with almost all being in the middle of the range. Added to that, I checked the wrong boxes on the survey, cause I couldn’t sit still long enough to read the items properly.
    I’ve read a few of these kind of self-help books, and they always seem to present an illusory magic wand. e.g. “If you just do these things I tell you, you can be just as happy/successful/rich as I am! (buy my book)” Problem is, if being happy/successful/rich were as simple as waving their magic wand, we’d have done it long ago.

    Huh – diet books for the brain. ;)

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  8. Keri Brooks on June 26, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    My highest by far was hyper-rational (I scored 10 on that. Maybe I should look around for my pointy ears). Avoider was in second place. Then there was a sharp drop-off before several others tied for third place.

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  9. Bonnie on June 26, 2012 at 3:47 PM

    Ever since I was thirteen and reading Seventeen I’ve been a sucker for these tests. OB does some wonderful things relating personality to business and life success, and positive psychology offers some great things (but I was sorry to see it didn’t carry over into this test.)

    The point of positive psychology is to play to our strengths in an environment of self-awareness. I am a Jungian, and I think our dark self is lined with gold, so I play nice with mine. The downside to a test like this is that it fails to acknowledge that our strengths and our weaknesses are usually shadows of one another. People who take these things (and I did, because of my first sentence) often miss that the saboteur they find is just their best self gone overboard.

    I like Dallin H. Oaks talk on the flip side of this, combined with Ether 12:27. Our strengths can be our downfall, and our weaknesses are the seed of our strengths.

    In all things, the key is “know thyself.” By the way, I’m in danger of being controlling, hyper-achieving, and hyper-rational. I choose to believe that I’m aware of that, and will eventually be a mindful leader, broadly successful, and as rational as I am kind. I choose to think that where I’m going may be more important than where I am now.

    But fun test! Like a thirteen-year-old I was eager to find the page number for the answers. ;)

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  10. Andrew S on June 26, 2012 at 4:17 PM

    For whatever it’s worth, I find it REALLY interesting that Avoider and Pleaser are the highest saboteurs of the W&T respondents so far…

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  11. Jake on June 26, 2012 at 5:44 PM

    If you consistently use fake details for online surveys are they still fake?

    I came out as being hyper-rational and restless as the two clear top ones. I guess the hyper-rational would tie into a sceptical church attitude…

    However, I’m always sceptical by these type of tests, as they classify us within a framework that they have defined, as if there are only 9 types of mental saboteurs. But despite this it was a fun test to do.

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  12. prometheus on June 26, 2012 at 8:27 PM

    Lol – I am a hyper rational controlling stickler. And they only beat out the other ones by 1 or so – everything was 6.5 or higher. I obviously have lots of saboteurs……..

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  13. Badger on June 26, 2012 at 10:07 PM

    This is fascinating, but it would be even better if it were tied in to the insights of the Restored Gospel. Please allow me to fill this gap.

    In gospel terms, Avoiders are slothful and not valiant, and it is clearly just a matter of time before the Victims choose to become offended and apostatize. Hyper-rational? We might as well come right out and call it what it is, hyper-so-called intellectual. The Hyper-vigilant and Restless are, of course, the Word-of-Wisdom breakers, hopped up on the caffeine to which they are addicted. Possible exception: if you are both hyper-vigilant and restless, you may, as Hawkgrrrl points out, be suffering from ADHD. See if your doctor can get you something stronger than caffeine.

    Hence accordingly…um, I mean, so anyway folks, the proper combination is:

    1. Stickler, as supported by the scripture cited above.

    2. Hyper-achiever, for not everyone that writeth down goal, goal shall enter the kingdom of heaven; but he that attaineth them.

    3. One of the Controller/Pleaser pair. Of course, you want the one appropriate to your eternal gender, as set forth in the Proclamation on the Family, which clearly teaches that it is the role of men to preside and delegate, and women to be presided unto, in the most equal sense of the word.

    Well, I think that’s just about perfectly expressed, so I’ll wind up now and go check it off my to-achieve list. Please adjust your personalities at your earliest convenience, or sooner, in the case of Avoiders.

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  14. Badger on June 26, 2012 at 10:10 PM

    It IS the role of men to preside and delegate….IS, IS, IS! How could I have written “is not”? Oh, this is a complete disaster.

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  15. Mike S on June 26, 2012 at 10:36 PM

    Badger, I’ve never edited a comment on here before (ie. our “hand’s-off policy”), but I enjoyed #13 enough that I just HAD to fix it as per #14. Hope that’s ok…

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  16. Julia on June 26, 2012 at 11:12 PM

    I used to be obsessed with personality tests, trying to parse through what they meant and how I should react or try to change myself.

    About twelve years ago I had a counselor explain to me that I was using the tests to replace my own judgment and thought processes. She challenged me never to take a test like this again. It is hard, I am always curious, I want to know how other people would see me and make sure that who I “want” to be is how others see me.

    So, I didn’t take the test, but I think my own thought process make it pretty obvious that I can generally predict where I fall in personality traits, although I am not sure that I believe they have to be negatives.

    Pleaser, Hyper-vigilant and Hyper-Achiever are all a large part of my personality. They certainly can have their drawbacks, but I think that as long as you are aware of them, they can be strengths too.

    So I guess, in the end, I accept myself, I just choose to focus on weak things being transformed into strengths. I could say, I have no ability to create visual art, or I can choose to find visual images I love, and add my own poetry, and find a way to synthesize appreciate as a creative part of myself. Sometimes it works and sometimes I fail. This is one that I think works better than most.

    Even if you hate my poems, I hope you love Talya’s art! I know this took a slight detour, but I think that it is important to not get caught up in the ways our personalities and quirks can be a downfall, but that they can also be positive if we understand them as some of our potential strengths.

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  17. Badger on June 26, 2012 at 11:14 PM

    Mike, I applaud you as a fellow stickler for perfection and thank you for micromanaging away the error that troubled me so greatly.

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  18. hawkgrrrl on June 27, 2012 at 5:07 AM

    I think Badger nails what a common successful Mormon set of demons would look like: stickler (perfectionist), hyper-achiever (got to get to that highest degree of glory!), and lastly I gotta go with pleaser, but I agree there’s about a 50/50 split for pleasers and controllers.

    I have observed to my husband on many occasions that bishops and mission presidents seem to rotate between easy going guys and hard cases. I suspect we have to have a pleaser to clean up after the controller and then vice-versa.

    While I’m also a Jungian and like MBTI quite a bit, personality tests like this one are just for funsies, IMO (and I too loved the Cosmo quizzes back in my teens). It’s one reason I didn’t buy and read the book. But that’s what you get for a 5 minute investment! I think it was worth 5 minutes for sure.

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  19. hawkgrrrl on June 27, 2012 at 5:10 AM

    I was also going to say, the types that leave church most often are probably: Victim (they get offended) and Hyper-rational (they talk themselves out of it). Avoiders who think about leaving probably don’t get around to it. I would think those that are restless are probably driven crazy by the 3 hour meeting block. As for the hyper-vigilant, I’m pretty sure they are still there based on some of the comments I hear in Relief Society and Sunday School.

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  20. Bonnie on June 27, 2012 at 7:53 AM

    Badger, that was completely entertaining! Thanks!

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  21. Glenn Thigpen on June 28, 2012 at 12:47 AM

    I am doomed. I did not take the test, but I am all of those things and more. There is no hope.


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  22. Hedgehog on July 2, 2012 at 8:11 AM

    Object to registering to take the test, but can’t bring myself to use a fake registration either…
    Self identified from your descriptions as:
    Hyper-rational, hypervigilant, stickler…
    Too late to join the conversation, but I am small and prickly…

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