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Mental Fitness

The Importance of Mental Fitness for Self-Improvement

Build mental fitness for self-improvement

Published September 19, 2023
by Positive Intelligence

In a world where physical fitness takes the spotlight, people often overlook the importance of mental fitness. Just as physical health is crucial for a fulfilling life, mental fitness is vital in your journey toward self-improvement. For true self-improvement, first, you must delve into the ways you unintentionally self-sabotage. Then, work on forming new habits through consistent daily mental fitness practice.

“There’s an 80% probability that you have no idea how magnificent you truly are. Or, you used to know, and you’ve forgotten,” says Shirzad Chamine, founder and CEO of Positive Intelligence.

What is mental fitness?

Mental fitness refers to the strength and resilience of your mind. It encompasses your emotional intelligence, ability to handle stress, and capacity for self-awareness. You can better navigate life’s challenges with grace and confidence when you’re mentally fit.

Understanding Saboteurs

Embarking on a journey of self-improvement is an admirable endeavor, but it’s not without its challenges. While external obstacles are often visible and manageable, there’s a formidable set of adversaries lurking within you known as Saboteurs. These inner critics, negative thought patterns, and self-destructive behaviors can significantly impede your progress.

Saboteurs are automatic and habitual mind patterns, each with a voice, beliefs, and assumptions. They represent each person’s strategy for surviving physically and emotionally and getting one’s needs met. They typically are formed through a combination of predispositions and early life experiences.

These inner critics can take various forms, including but not limited to:

1. Judge: This Saboteur is harshly critical, constantly evaluating and condemning your actions, leading to perfectionism and self-criticism.

2. Victim: This Saboteur fosters self-pity and powerlessness, making you feel like life’s circumstances are beyond your control.

3. Avoider: This Saboteur encourages you to procrastinate, escape challenges, and seek distractions to avoid discomfort or failure.

4. Controller: This Saboteur strives for control at all costs, often leading to micromanagement and difficulty trusting others.

5. Pleaser: This Saboteur tells you to put others’ needs before your own, sacrificing your wellbeing to gain approval and avoid conflict.

Understanding Sage

Your Sage is your positive self. It generates positive emotions while handling life’s challenges. Your Sage is responsible for empathy, compassion, gratitude, curiosity, the joy of creativity, and calm, clear-headed action. Your Sage’s five positive powers are Empathize, Explore, Navigate, Innovate, and Activate.

How your Saboteurs restrict self-improvement

Your Saboteurs hinder self-improvement in several ways:

1. Undermining confidence: Saboteurs often lead to self-doubt and low self-esteem. Your confidence takes a hit when you constantly criticize yourself or believe you are incapable. This lack of confidence can hinder your willingness to take on new challenges or work toward self-improvement goals.

2. Procrastination: Certain Saboteurs, like Avoider, can lead to procrastination. You may put off important tasks or delay working on self-improvement goals because your Saboteurs convince you you’re not ready or capable of succeeding.

3. Perfectionism: The Hyper-Achiever Saboteur can drive you toward perfectionism, setting impossibly high standards. This can lead to frustration and disappointment when you inevitably fall short of these unrealistic expectations, making self-improvement efforts feel futile.

4. Negative self-talk: Saboteurs often engage in negative self-talk, criticizing your actions and abilities. This negative internal dialogue can erode your motivation and self-worth, making it challenging to sustain self-improvement efforts.

5. Fear of failure: The Controller and Stickler Saboteurs, among others, can foster a deep fear of failure. This fear can prevent you from taking risks and trying new things, which is essential for personal growth and self-improvement.

6. Stress and anxiety: Saboteurs can contribute to stress and anxiety. When constantly battling your inner critics and worrying about potential failures, focusing on self-improvement in healthy and productive ways is challenging.

7. Impaired relationships: Saboteurs can also affect your relationships. They can cause you to be overly critical of others, create conflict, or be overly defensive when receiving feedback, hindering your ability to grow through interpersonal interactions.

How to overcome Saboteurs for self-improvement

“So you ask, ‘How do I turn my failure in this project into an opportunity?’ This perspective changes everything,” says Chamine.

Understanding your Saboteurs and learning to manage them through mental fitness techniques can be transformative for self-improvement efforts. By taming self-sabotaging tendencies, you can boost your confidence, reduce procrastination, embrace imperfection, and develop a healthier mindset, ultimately making it easier to work toward and achieve your self-improvement goals.

The key lies in strengthening your Sage brain, the part of your mind that enables clarity, empathy, and wise decision-making, while taming your Saboteur brain, which is responsible for self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviors.

Identify and intercept your Saboteurs

The first step in overcoming Saboteurs is recognizing their presence and understanding their specific forms within you. Once identified, you can employ strategies to manage and neutralize their influence:

1. First, identify the Saboteurs that are generating your negative emotions. You do this by taking the free Saboteur Assessment.

2. Next, practice intercepting your Saboteurs. Label your negative thoughts and emotions in the moment as Saboteur and let them go. You must have studied your Saboteurs and discredited their lies to do this.

Strengthen your Sage

To strengthen your Sage Muscle, you can practice shifting into Sage mode when you feel stress, anxiety, self-doubt, frustration, regret, shame, guilt, or unhappiness. In these moments, you can practice using your Sage Powers to respond rather than letting your Saboteurs (negative thought patterns) take over.

1. Use Explore to assess a situation with an open mind.

2. Use Empathize with yourself and others to bring compassion and understanding.

3. Use Innovate to create outside-the-box solutions to a problem at hand.

4. Use Navigate to choose a path that aligns with your deeply held values.

5. Use Activate to move forward with decisive action without distress or distraction.

Your journey toward self-improvement

“What would life be like if you reclaimed your beautiful true self — your Sage?” asks Chamine.

Embarking on the path to mental fitness is a journey of self-discovery and personal growth. It requires dedication, practice, and a commitment to nurturing your Sage while taming your Saboteurs.

In the pursuit of self-improvement, put mental fitness at the forefront. Mental fitness is the glue that holds together the various facets of your life, allowing you to navigate challenges, embrace growth, and achieve your goals. By prioritizing your mental fitness, you lay a strong foundation for a happier, healthier, and more successful journey toward self-improvement.

Take the free Saboteur Assessment to discover which Saboteurs limit your potential and your quest for self-improvement.

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