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Finding Your Inner Guardian: The Wise Voice Leading the Way

Karen Baldwin

A Leadership Message + Video from Karen Baldwin, ICAN Faculty Member

I’m Karen Baldwin and I’m an ICAN program leader for both Defining Leadership and ICAN custom programs. I’m also an executive coach.

Whether I’m teaching a class or coaching someone, the topic of self-doubt always seems to come up in our conversations. During this pandemic and these uncertain times, it’s not a surprise that many of us start to have doubts about our ability to function in our new environment. Everyday can seem like we are starting over from ground zero. We are constantly being challenged and asked to change the way we do things.

Whether I’m teaching a class or coaching someone, the topic of self-doubt always seems to come up in our conversations.

Karen Baldwin

ICAN Faculty

Especially during times of change, we often hear the negative voice in our head. We call it the voice of the Saboteur.

It is also referred to as our negative self-talk, inner critic, our gremlins, the committee, or monkey mind.  This clever inner critic can actually hold us back from getting the things we actually say we want.  This voice may recite an old litany of judgments and limiting beliefs.

It says things like:

“You aren’t working hard enough.”
“You ‘re not adapting quick enough”
“You can’t handle all that is being thrown at you”
“You are not smart enough.”
“You should be further along in your career.”
“… you’re just NOT enough!”

Or it could be the opposite: “You’re too old, young, aggressive, introverted, extroverted… and you’re just TOO MUCH!”

Most of the time this voice operates quietly in the background, influencing  choices and decisions that we are making and choosing its preferred course of action or inaction.  When you take an important step in your life to make a change, often it’s as if an alarm sounds and the saboteur voice will awaken.

Expect the saboteur will challenge you and try to hold you back. The saboteur would prefer to NOT rock the boat, and to keep things as they are, maintain the status quo. The bigger the dream, the louder the Saboteur voice become. The Saboteur has all the reasons ready for why this plan (whatever you have in mind) is a stupid, dangerous, hopeless or otherwise ill-advised course of action. The Saboteur is particularly adept at taking a small piece of the truth and fabricating it into the blanket reason for stopping, or never starting.

Be aware when the Saboteur may have taken control of your thoughts and voice:

  • Often, you’ll have a sense of circling the issue, round and round.
  • When the Saboteur is present, you may sound like you’re building a case, or defending the decision.
  • When things seem unnecessarily complicated, it is often the Saboteur trying to trap you in a web of confusion.
  • Above all, when the Saboteur is speaking, you will notice a dissonance/clash/tension that is the very opposite of the resonance associated with experiencing a strong value.

There are three general approaches for handling the Saboteur once you’ve identified its presence.

#1 – Know that you are ALWAYS stronger, smarter, and more resourceful than your Saboteur!

Once it becomes really clear to you that you and the Saboteur are NOT one and the same, you have the power to choose who’s going to be boss. YOU can control the volume of the Saboteur’s voice. You can turn it up or down or OFF!

#2 – Look to your values

Does that Saboteur call you toward your values or away from them? When in doubt of which voice is speaking, you can always ask, “What is the REAL truth here, not the Saboteur’s version?” You do know; when you check inside for the truth you almost always find that it’s right there

#3 – Enlisting the strength of what we call your Guardian

This will allow you to clearly see the separation between your true self and the Saboteur’s story. Your Guardian is always available when you need guidance, wisdom, encouragement or support. However, it can be challenging to access your internal resourcefulness. Often, the voice of the Saboteur is loud and dominant. It can drown out the calm whispers of our internal ally we call the Guardian. It takes patience and commitment to be able to hear and to follow that quieter voice which is our true self.

The more you use your Guardian, the more present that voice will be in your decisions. Your Guardian is that wise woman or man inside you.

Your Guardian knows that your life is as it should be in this moment and at the same time holds the paradox of wanting more for you. This part of you knows your strengths, talents, gifts and your limitations and has room for all of you.

The key attributes of your Guardian are: 

Wisdom, Compassion, Courage, Clarity and Certainty.

Your Guardian, believes in you completely and without question, is grounded and can see quickly what is needed and how best to move forward.

We all have that negative voice in our head, so you are not alone. Finding your inner guardian, your spirit guide, listening to that wise voice will help you through these troubling, challenging times.

Thank you. Please be safe and be well. Know that all of us at ICAN are here to support you.

Learn more about Karen and her work with ICAN