I'm re-reading Rick Carson's classic Taming Your Gremlin. He describes that voice in your head that some call your inner critic, your Gremlin. Your gremlin is always with you, telling you who and how you are and interpreting every experience you have. With a recent change in my employment and my plans to begin coaching and consulting full time, my gremlin has been having a field day. Her message is some version of Who the hell do you think you are?It seems I have a tightly controlled space to exist and thrive, and if I dare to go outside or even contemplate going outside of the borders, I come face to face with her. Who the hell do you think you are? She is loud and insistent, and apparently she's a workaholic who never sleeps. I’m guessing if you’re reading this article, that you have a similar gremlin. Maybe yours tells you what you should do, or what you can't do or what you absolutely must do. Maybe our gremlins are friends. I’m suggesting that we all join forces to help each other learn how to hit the pause button on them, turn down the volume so we can go about living our best versions of ourselves.
Where do these voices come from? The interesting thing is that the picture of the life that I have as acceptable (Director of L&D, homeowner, mother) does not invite my gremlin. She’s no where to be found. It’s when I try and step outside of my mental maps of what is acceptable and possible for me that she comes out.
Dare to make my living out on my own as a coach? Who the hell do you think you are?
Express myself authentically and creatively? Who the hell do you think you are?
Write a blog post about my inner critic? WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE … SOME KIND OF GREMLIN EXPERT?
The first secret I've learned to tame her is to stop and notice. Take some deep breathes. I see you. I hear you. I'm going to let you keep talking but I'm going over here. The more I do the work to expand what I think is truly possible for my life, the more expansive my life is, the less I hear from her. The more I tap into my connection to soul and the energy that joins us all as one, the more I see that all things are possible in this reality. When I tap into this energy of expansion and possibility, she goes away.
The second secret I’ve found to tame her is understanding her purpose. She comes out as a direct function of the degree to which I want to please people and be accepted. I’m not alone in wanting to be accepted; We are social beings and to our brain when we’re rejected by the social group, we are potentially facing death, like literal physical death. Our reptilian brains still think that’s a possible outcome. You don’t like my blog post? I will be shunned and eaten by the tigers, my guts left in a heap on the side of the rode. Well given that circumstance, I would have to thank my gremlin. THANK YOU for trying to stop me from this madness! You are just looking out for me. In a warped way, she is really just trying to keep me alive. The only problem is that everything she is telling me is a lie. I don't need her protection.
Given her purpose is to keep me alive, my third secret is to not get angry with her, not blame her or judge her but to just regard her with love and humor. Not now my love … shhhh … it’s okay. I got this.
Who else has a gremlin? When does yours come out and how do you respond to yours?