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The Inner Saboteur

Updated: May 9, 2021

(Can also be viewed in Hanford Sentinel May 7, 2021 under HMTC This Week)

RuPaul coined the term Inner Saboteur. You probably have heard other terms to describe the losing of confidence and annoying self-doubt. This inner saboteur can have a devastating effect on stage, and on your life.

The Inner Saboteur is described as the part of an individual’s personality which deliberately disrupts, delays, destroys, or hinders his or her own success from the nagging self-talk that the individual is not worthy. It could be seriously debilitating, and certainly not welcomed onstage especially if a live performance is anticipated.

Imagine an actor backstage about to go on stage and this insecurity sets in. The audience is waiting, and the actor is backstage with lost confidence and a director about to have a heart attack. Since actors make a living on the stage or in front of a camera, the inner saboteur can be financially damaging.

How debilitating is the Inner Saboteur? According to Céline Terranova in her article How to Overcome Your Inner Saboteur, she states, “The inner saboteur rains on your successes and feeds on your failures. It ruins your relationships and eats your joy away. If it is too strong, it can lead to depression, anxiety and other issues.” She goes on to say, “Some call it the critical voice, or the judge.”

She also states that the inner saboteur can be from childhood, or from a traumatic event, society in general, or something once said to you. Mine comes from my father telling me that what I try to accomplish there would be someone better at it. A true statement, but I internalized it in my creativity, and it comes into my mind when I do projects. I first think my project is wonderful, then that inner voice tells me not to take too much pride because someone else somewhere has done it better. You may have experienced something similar. That’s the inner saboteur raining on your parade. How do you get rid of this self-induced saboteur?

Ms. Terranova states, “You need to surround yourself with a supportive entourage. Otherwise, the critics and putdowns from the outside will resonate with your inner critic and paralyze you.” She adds, “Another great technique to overcome your saboteur is to not trigger it in the first place by selecting helpful thoughts. We tend to think that everything that comes out of our head is true, but it’s actually completely wrong. Which means that you can make the decision to entertain constructive thoughts only instead of destructive ones.”

An actor combats that inner saboteur by practicing onstage in an acting collective such as a class, or workshop. By practice I mean working with other actors on scenes and other confidence building exercises. Also, to listen to actor advice from veteran actors and ask questions. This practice, or stage-work, provides a confidence base for the actor.

HMTC offers acting classes for people to discover the stage and heighten confidence. We encourage people to sign up for 4-week, one-hour sessions at our theater. We begin in September. Look for information at

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Hi Silvia, this is Céline Terranova. I can see that you enjoyed my article about the Inner Saboteur and that you had some personal experience with it as an actor. I'm glad it was of help! I don't mind my blog post being quoted in this context, but would you mind linking to the original article, both here and in the Hanford Sentinel? This is the link: Thank you, have a lovely weekend!

May 09, 2021
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Absolutely!!!!!! Great article!!!

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