2018-02-07 / Editorial

TAMING YOUR GREMLIN

Martha Chalker

“There is a gremlin within you and he is the narrator within your head”. – Richard D. Carson

One of the first books on the reading list for coach training with The Coach Training Institute was ‘Taming Your Gremlin, A Guide to Enjoying Yourself’ by Richard D. Carson. It amused, entertained and enlightened me with the powerful metaphor of the gremlin. The gremlin represents those voices in your head giving you negative messages, discouraging you and making your life generally unhappy.

They perpetuate myths that hold you back, leave you unfulfilled and keep you from accomplishments, personally and professionally. Your gremlin is most likely created by past experiences. He’d like you to believe his interpretation of who you are, how you are as well as what you can and can’t do.

When my children were little (ages ago) we read a book about “the monster under my bed”. It was meant to help children shift their thinking about fears they conjure up at bedtime or when they feel vulnerable or alone. Identifying your fears, doubts or negative self-talk as a grubby, hideous gremlin whose major goal is to diminish the happy, productive, vibrant you is a creative approach to solving some of life’s challenges.

A humorous lighthearted exercise in describing your gremlin and noticing when and where he shows up may enable you to identify and extinguish some of the self defeating aspects of your personality. So you may recognize some myths perpetuated by your gremlin I am listing some I have seen in myself and clients.

1. Fast is good and slow is bad. (We stay busy, harried and stressed and forget the benefits of contemplation and meditation).

2. Showing emotion is weak or unprofessional.

3. If we refuse to acknowledge and express our feelings they will go away.

4. Worry, anxiety and guilt somehow have value.

5. You don’t deserve to be treated better. It’s probably your fault anyway.

6. You’re not capable, good enough, smart enough, etc.

Your gremlin will never go away, but he can be tamed. The first step to taming your gremlin is to simply notice. Simply noticing allows you to become more aware and experience yourself and your surroundings without analysis. You focus on what you are directly experiencing rather than your negative thoughts, memories, fears or interpretations. You are grounded in reality. When you distinguish between reality and the gremlin’s world of make believe, you become free to choose.

An example I recall is of a student whose assignment from me was to call and schedule appointments with business people. She was interested in several different careers and wanted to meet the professionals to learn more about their work. Her gremlin held her back, telling her she was not important enough and they would probably not take the time to meet with her anyway. When we discussed the thought processes making her hesitate, she decided the worst possible outcome in reality would be for them to say no. Her imagination had made her fear worse. She was then free to acknowledge her fears for what they were and make a healthier and more productive choice about her actions.

Simply notice, stay grounded and acknowledge your gremlin this week. Then use reality and play with your options and make great choices going forward.

Martha Chalker is a Life and Business Coach with more than 20 years of experience. She can be reached at (706) 564-4458.

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