Unveiling the Saboteur

In my video blog this week, I talk about the “Saboteur” – what it is and what it means for success in Bright Line Eating™. Check it out!


  1. Mich

    That is so helpful for me. Do you have more information on this topic? I think this is what keeps me from being committed and keeps me eating chocolate. Mine is really smart to me. It says you went for a 15 mile run, you really don’t have any weight to lose, you deserve it. It tastes so good.

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  2. Mercedes

    Thank you so much, Susan. I have just given a name to my saboteur. It`s the “Dreamcrucher” (in fact, it`s the spanish version of that word, because I speak Spanish) The dreamcrusher tells me that I can eat when I knnow I mustn`t. The Dreamcrusher seeks for immediate pleasure, crushing my greatest dreams. The Dreamcrusher tells me that eating now is not so bad, that watching tv instead of working is not so terrible. The Dreamcrusher is the ultimate procrastinator. Next time, I`ll look at the Dreamcrusher in the eye and tell her: go away to where you belong. There`s no way of locking her in, so I have to keep her at bay. I hope I can.

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  3. Laura B

    I LOVE this vlog! My saboteur tells me things all the time, some sneaky, some not so sneaky – your words resonated with me all week since I heard it. MY saboteur not only tells me it’s okay to eat whatever I want, but it will also tell me it’s okay to think all kinds of negativity not only about self, but about people, places and things. In keeping myself clean/sober since 9-27-99 and nicotine free since 10-26-15 I’ve learned to talk back to my brain, that “I” am not (just) my brain! I work in psychiatry and recently shared this vlog with a patient because saboteurs are common in psychiatric disease.

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  4. Shereen

    I had always believed it’s my voice! it seemed very logical! Thank you so much for the video, watching you gives me great energy.


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  5. Kathy

    Just what we needed to hear…thank you Susan.

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  6. Emily MT

    I think of the saboteur as my Tantrum Child: can’t talk sense to it, but I can order it to take a timeout, and move my attention to something that is truly supportive of me.

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  7. Susan Deogracias

    Dear Susan,
    I really appreciate your expertise on the brain and weight loss, but the color scheme of your logo, vlog background, and eye makeup scares me. I do not know why I am reacting this way. The only thing I can think of is a parochial vision of the colors of the theological place of everlasting punishment. I am so sorry I can’t handle your visual message because I believe in your mission as heaven sent. If you had a link to a printed version, I would happily read it. Otherwise, I must unsubscribe.
    Susan Deogracias

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    1. Elayne

      Susan, it could be simpler to hit play and look away. I too find visuals distracting for my own personal reasons. In a case like this, Susan P. isn’t really doing anything beyond talking. So you miss very little of the message if you look away. A while back I developped the habit of listening and looking away and it takes a little time to acclimate, but it does work! Just make sure you don’t look away and at something that is too distracting and you forget to listen. Good luck. It would be a pity if you missed out over something like a bad visual experience.

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  8. Beverly Alexander

    I’ve heard the saboteur idea before, but the idea of giving that saboteur a name, a character, inspired me to personalize that saboteur as a picture I have of myself at over 180 lbs (and 5’1″ tall). She wants to eat the addictive stuff. She tells me I am hungry, or I am upset, and need “a little something.” There she is, trying to get me to look like her again! There she is, wanting me to be helpless and a failure. I love the idea that there is more to me than that, and the person who is genuinely hungry is the me who is hungry for self respect and achievement. It is my job to protect this seedling of joy from the poison herbicide of sabotage!

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  9. Jayne

    So amazing, that saboteur can be so sneaky. 3 times during the vlog when it got tot he part about the addiction saboteur my mind totally checked out and I had to rewind that section to watch it-3 times in a row. I was attending to the vlog fine until that moment. An area of addictive thought/behavior for me is around being a helping person. It is amazing how much of my thoughts can be around obsessive relationships I have with certain people I perceive as “needing me”. It’s a tricky place walking the line of honest ethical service and the Fixing Needy behavior that is seemingly other focused in a “good way” but really an expression of my inner attachments, clinginess, and need to me needed. I appreciate having this info and new awareness.

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  10. Kate

    For the last few months, my “saboteur” has been what I call my inner child. A little 3 or 4 year old child that wants candy and sweets. She can be whiny, coaxing, and occasionally throws a tantrum. I find I can deal with her if I continue to think about how I would deal with my real life grandson – a firm gentle no followed by alternative suggestions meant to distract, comfort or sooth whatever emotion is causing the demand for sugar.

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  11. Amy Schild

    Thank you for that message on “saboteur”. Very helpful and made a lot of sense! Now I can name that “voice” in my head! Thank you for all you do!

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  12. John Koroloff

    I am a type 2 diabetic trying intermittent fasting to increase insulin sensitivity, reduce blood glucose, LDL and blood pressure. My “fast” is 6pm to 1pm next day (18 hrs) and a bright line of no eating during fasting period. Looking at recent studies on the medical benefits of IF (The Fast Diet by Dr. Michael Mosley) I see that there are a plethora of biological benefits to skipping “the most important meal of your day” (breakfast cereal ad that has no scientific backing according to several recent articles in PubMed) and wonder if you have any thoughts about this new dietary strategy.

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    1. Linda

      Thank you for asking that John…interested to see what Susan has to say about this as I have been looking in to IF for the same purpose. How is it working out for you?

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  13. Ginger

    Dr. Susan, You have no idea how much I look forward to your weekly vlogs. They are provocative and relavent. You have an uncanny gift of taking the neurobiological changes that occur in our brain and explaining them so we can apply. I have been accused of being in my head with dieting. I am the type of person who has to understand what is happening and why. As a fellow over achiever (10 on the scale), “just do it”, Doesn’t cut it.
    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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  14. Dan

    I realize not everyone will agree with this, but I share my experience/viewpoint as a Christian. So take it or leave it, but I hope Susan’s comments don’t get hijacked with a religious debate.
    I think of a thought or a feeling as a spirit. It may be transmitted through different parts of the brain, but it represents an attitude or personality that I, through my rational mind and free will, can embrace as being “me” or reject. I know when we say “spirit” we think of devils with pitchforks or angels with halos, but these are just shorthand representations for ideas, which exist and have complete “personalities” but no physical existence. My faith teaches me not to argue/engage with “evil” spirits, but to call on Christ who has already won the battle. The greets weapon for me is humility. Admitting that I can do nothing on my own, but God’s Spirit within me can accomplish all things (all things HE wants, not necessarily everything I want). So, rather than give in to or even engage the “saboteur” or any other voice, I rely on the “higher power” who is so much stronger than I. That’s where I’m at. Hope it helps.

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    1. Joy

      You are right on the solution, Dan. We can do nothing apart from the Holy Spirit, who gives us the strength.

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    2. Sue

      Amen Dan

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  15. Simon Crosby

    The question of “who am I?” (perhaps more revealing as : “what am I?”) is quite central: those inner voices like to use the personal pronoun ” I ” and so it can be helpful to think of them more as parts-of-me. For BLE the issue is: who’s in charge, they or the ‘real’ I? From the viewpoint of considering the Saboteur, and others, as trying to divert us then we are better off as fully awake/alert/aware as possible, otherwise we are in no position to disagree with them, or set them aside.

    I know that different parts of the brain do different things but I do not understand how consciousness is split as to regions in the brain, nor can I imagine how that might be established. My experience simply is that these many sub-personalities appear to be real enough, they have their voices and their agendas, and sometimes they bid, as aspects of ego, to take control. My central task in BLE is then obvious, and it is the same as my general task in life: to be fully awake. Knowing about all this seems to me to be essential in realising being happy, thin and free, and in knowing just how that may be subverted. S

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  16. Susan

    Is it a common problem for a person to believe that it is NOT actually the foods that they eat that correlate to weight gain? What if I eat moderately and mostly healthy (do have the odd dark chocolate or desert, seldom consume alcohol) I am not obsessive about cutting out wheat and sugar totally although I rarely eat bread, pizza or stuff made from wheat and sugar. Am I in denial? I still feel guilty for gaining weight – my saboteur voice keeps telling me it is all my fault. Please could you cover this topic? Thank you – Sue.

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  17. Rosemary

    I love listening to your vlog, Susan. You have such a down to earth, heartfelt way of communicating which is soooooooo intelligent – inclusive of science, psychology and spirituality. I don’t particularly listen to lose weight but to be inspired about how to help people to a better life in all ways. I especially think that differentiating the real ‘I’ (self) from everything else is the basis of it all – Who am I? And that the reality of a real life in that context is ‘re-framed’. Actually it might be worth focusing on this as a specific aspect of your course. I find that this becomes necessary whatever area of life people are grappling with. Blessings on you and your work. Rosemary

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  18. Guni

    Thank you Susan for answering my question so perfectly. Also today’s 3 hour seminar with Michael was an absolute eye opener on the same subject. He made us merge our right and left hemispheres through a (self) guided meditation, awesome!! I would have never thought that your work, as well as those associated with you, would have given so many of us a new life to really look forward to, it certainly is happening to me and I am forever grateful. Thanks again

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  19. Wendy

    It was fascinating watching your hand movements while describing the saboteur, almost snake like. (Eve & the serpent in the Garden of Eden). I found your explanation really interesting as only very recently being introduced to this voice as ‘The Chimp’, and the ‘animal voice’. It is certainly a voice I want to pay more attention to. It seems you can’t shut this voice up by willpower alone – as you say in so many words – hear it, acknowledge it and use your real brain to silence it.

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  20. Rosanne

    My saboteur is that after four weeks of no sugar or flour I have only lost 1lb!! BUT have determined that because I’ve come this far I might as well keep going instead of starting again some other time. Maybe one day I’ll wake up and my scales will surprise me! RB

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  21. Joan Browning

    I am a diabetic and I want to know what a person with 36 years with the forced constant decision making about what to eat at every meal can break free from that mind set. I am so tired of being conscious thinking about food all of the time. If I could have someone make my meals and just eat what was put in front of me I wouldn’t have to make the decision!!!

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    1. Lindee Sue Brown

      very well explained—thank you

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    2. Sue

      Joan, I have a similar problem because my last diet involved weighing all my food, which were different amounts to what we are using now. It is very hard. I think we laid down bright lines in our brain and it is now difficult to delete these and lay new ones. That might be a good topic for a vlog.

      Sue Armstrong

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    3. Kathy

      Hi Joan,
      I hope you are in Susan’s Bright line eating bootcamp? If not, perhaps have her coach you? It is possible (for some) to recover from diabetes on this eating plan. It still takes meal planning – but with such a grand goal in mind – perhaps it would be easier. Talk to Susan about it, she knows all about the benefits of eating right.
      All the best to you!

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  22. Barbara Lockwood

    Thanks for that inspiring talk! When I first listened I only listened with half my brain thinking “old hat” but then you got me and I’m glad I opened my ears as the way you suggest we deal with THAT voice makes a lot of sense! Thanks again ! I will be using this advice.

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    1. Guni

      how amazing! Did you listen to Michael’s seminar today. Hi explains WHY we only listen with half a brain. They going to post it for us to review after they ironed out a few glitches!

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  23. Cristina

    I love to watch you!!! You are very clear and makes profound subjects a ” kid story”.

    Thank you Dr Susan,


    Cristina Brennan
    Nutrition Health Coach

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  24. Paul Fiedler

    Now I have a name for my voice of betrayal. I hadn’t thought of the call from my consciousness as Saboteur, but that is exactly who he is. The problem is…he is me…and knows me all to well. He always sounds very friendly and reasonable with a reassuring hand on my shoulder as he escorts me back to hell.

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    1. Serene

      What a great, truthful video! If we do not identify and fight back against the Saboteur, we fall victim to the same cycle of craving, eating crap, feeling bad, then craving some more to feel better. I think I’m going to give my Saboteur a real name, because she sure knows a lot about me.

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      1. Mariah

        Good idea, a real name!! Am going to reflect on that. Malvina…..Pandora……Slyly……
        Best wishes,

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    2. Ginger

      Ah, our dear sweet friend, the Saboteur! Paul, you pretty much summed it up. Well, I have seen food hell and I don’t ever want to go back! Talk all you want, I’ve slept with that enemy and it was not pretty!

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    3. con

      Wow. that is an amazing visual image : as he escorts me back to hell.
      I will use that visualization next time temptation strikes,
      Thans for sharing this Paul!

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  25. Laura

    I soblook forward to these each week. Thank you for giving us the facts. With knowledge comes hope for change. I have an entirely new understanding of why and how I eat.

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    1. Laura

      Pardon the typo! So look foward.

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  26. Pat

    Had a binge on doughnuts was feeling very down then I pick up my phone & watched this video. I couldn’t believe it! Never heard it before thankyou!

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  27. Ronna Berezin

    With all the redundant, superfluous, hackneyed advice that comes at you these days it is refreshing to have an original viewpoint presented in simple, clear and precise language that all of us at any age can understand! That is you Susan, and noone, I repeat noone does it better. Thanks for simply being you.

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  28. Yvonne

    Thanks Susan. That was a great Vlog. I love your scientific approach and the way in which you can explain things in lay terms. You also make me laugh in the way you suggest we talk back. I’m definitely going to adopt a sterner approach next time the Saboteur comes calling.

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  29. Candy

    For me, the saboteur is the sugar and flour talking!!! I like the comebacks Susan suggested using with the Saboteur.

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  30. Adam

    I love this. You are articulating timeless truths and realities that we all experience. You are exposing the lies the enemy likes to throw at us. Thats probably one of the sneakiest things… The fact that the voice tries to sound like us.

    From a spiritual perspective I like the reality in the scriptures that calls us to “take every thought captive to the obedience of christ.” Its taking the lies and measuring them against truth.

    The trouble is when we identify with the “saboteur.” We think it is us and then we feel all crappy because of it. But if we separate that voice and realize its an enemy and not us, we gain the upper hand. Its no longer us, and we can fight against it!

    Thanks Susan!

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    1. Susan Raja-Rao

      Thank you once again for your most helpful insights !! You have great knowledge of how the mind and body work and also have a most beautiful and generous heart !!! Thank you for your blessed life mission .

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    2. Deborah

      Thanks for this topic! I think it’s related to the webinar I missed last evening (but look forward to catching on video!). Also, just wanted to share another approach to inner personas and parts that I am now reminded of, including “saboteurs.” In years past I attended training in NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), an excellent program in Colorado, a portion of which related to working with “parts” of ourselves we don’t like or haven’t understood deeply yet.. The basic premise is that the more we stop rejecting or dissing some “parts” and start investigating more deeply, the more we ultimately discover a positive underlying motives and needs for each part (like independence or exploration/curiosity or comfort or something like that — self protection and defense are big ones) which may have been manifesting in a less than helpful way in the past — unable to get our attention, and frustrated, according to that model.
      The idea is to establish a connection, listen, affirm… and bring an amazing transformation (which some people call spiritual) with these “orphaned” parts when we bring them in, to greater integration. It’s an interesting, ongoing process. The main resource I would recommend is Connierae Andreas, Ph.D., Boulder Colorado. Her first book on this topic was Core Transformation, including a clear technique. I think she’s doing more recent work on “Wholeness” and healing of brain, mind, body experience/health. I’m sure there are other resources too.
      Peacemaking with our demons!!
      “Hugging the cactus”? ♡♡♡

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      1. Rory

        Thank you for posting this information Deborah! While it is critically important to learn to recognize the “voices” within that play the role of saboteur (which in most cases simply want to avoid any changes and maintain the status quo) it is also critically important to do as you suggest and rather than adopting the idea of those aspects of self being “enemies,” to listen/observe (not act upon), understand their concerns and why they developed, and work towards the integration and upliftment of all aspects of self into a unified whole. To see the saboteur as an enemy creates greater separation rather than wholeness.

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        1. Sabrina Kindell

          I completely agree with Rory. I believe that personifying the saboteur differently (with power & heart) can lead to extraordinary results!!! I am a housemate on the wonderful Hope home…

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      2. Mary

        Excellent Deborah,

        I couldn’t agree more.
        Giving a voice to all our feelings, fears etc and making Peace with them instead of looking at them as enemies is a much better way to becoming happy, complete and whole Human beings.
        thanks for posting here.

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    3. Tania Botoulas

      Thank you for this inspiring video. I have been trying for months to become sugar and wheat free. The longest I have latest is 14 days before caving in the the voice that says “but it’s just a bit of birthday cake. You have to celebrate”, “start eating healthy again on Monday” , “you had a piece of chocolate, you may as well have some toast too”. So that’s my SABATEUR. I have a name for that voice and hopefully I can stand up to him. Who is the voice that says “you see, you always fail. You are not strong enough. You can’t resist. You are just not meant to be thin” (??The Judge?) They all seem stronger than the one who says “This time you are going to do it. You are going to stick with it. You can. You will.”
      Where does will power come in? Is that the conscious realisation of the sabateur and the active decision to not allow him to gain the upper hand?

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    4. joan

      Hi Susan
      Gosh you are amazing. My sister is doing the bright line eating and I have watched her in the last 2 months transform her body. I have been struggling with mine. LOL. Anyways i asked her what she was doing and she told me. I am/have been doing no sugar/no white flour/no potatoes and a few other whites…but when a holiday a vacation, anything like that comes alone…i am giving myself permission to cheat. Hence…I gain 10 pounds and find myself having to go through the withdrawal of above again. So I am really committing to stay on program this time. Your boot camp is full but i am trying on my on to do this with the help of your blog and emails until there is an opening. I love love love your videos!!! you are beautiful inside and out. i am very familiar with 12 step work and i love the tools you use. You talk my language. I have been in alanon for 26 years. Still married to an alcoholic and have many family members but i know how to take care of myself and i still love many alcoholic. (Just don’t always like them) But i know what i have control of. But i listen to you and I know i can practice the principals in all my affairs. I just never realized i was a food addict also. I know I am but i always was able to rationalize my weight. Not anymore…..I don’t want to. Thank you for all you do. My committee in my head is very strong….but i am learning a new name today. But not just that, but the need to respond back to her. I need to protect me from her. Thank you I look forward to traveling together on this journey.

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