Today we are taking about gremlins, those malicious little mental meanies that make us doubt ourselves and second-guess everything we’re trying to accomplish in our lives. Gremlins are just another form of Inner Critic. They’re not something we’re born with, but something we get infected with over time. And what we’re going to do today is look at techniques to help you banish your gremlins so that they no longer have the power to prevent your from doing what you most need to do in order to make your dreams a reality.
What are gremlins?
Gremlins are those spiteful little voices inside of us that make us second-guess our every move and worry about all the things that could go wrong when things are, in fact, going right, and they delight in pointing out the obvious every time we screw up. They are a particularly nasty kind of inner critic because they feed on fear, which triggers that primitive “fight or flight” response within us, which in turn tends to circumvent our ability to calmly and rationally think our way through a situation, or to work our way through to a better feeling place. All of which means that these gremlins have the power to complete undermine our efforts to make progress towards our biggest dreams and goals.
And they’re so stubborn and persistent, which makes them all the worse. They’re kind of like that “Whack-A-Mole” game at the fair — whenever you start making progress towards something that is important to you, the little gremlins pop their heads up out of nowhere and start spewing negativity at you. They will come up with every conceivable reason for why you can’t have what you want, and if you let yourself listen to what they’re saying, it can really start to undermine your self-confidence and ability to keep taking those action steps you need to take in order to reach your goals.
Why do we have gremlins?
Gremlins are really just another form of self-sabotage, they’re just another mouthpiece for all the fears that keep us from going after and achieving what we want in life. And they have a vested interest in keeping you from achieving your goals because if you’re successful, their very existence is threatened. At the same time, however, gremlins don’t want you to completely give up on your goals, either.
You see, in actual fact, gremlins desperately need you to keep working towards that dream up to a point; they want you to strive, but they don’t want you to succeed. They feed off your fear, and they feed of your frustration. And if you either achieve your goals or give up on your dreams, then they don’t get fed. So they want you to stay in that horrible limbo, carefully balanced on a wire where you can keep generating the maximum amount of both fear and frustration to keep them fat and happy.
So they’re unlikely to kill your dreams completely… remember what I said about the “Whack-A-Mole” game? They pop their heads up until they get a satisfying reaction from you, and then they disappear again until the next time you start to get too close to making real things happen.
Inner Critic or Inner Wisdom?
Now, when I’ve talked about gremlins in the past, I’ve had a few people ask me how they’re supposed to tell if that voice they’re hearing is their Inner Critic or their Inner Wisdom. So, how do you distinguish between gremlins and what I usually refer to as “the whisper within” – your inner guidance or inner wisdom – trying to tell you that this is really not the best path for you to take?
Well, that takes a little bit of patience. It involves taking the time to be still and really look within you for the answers. Check in with your emotions… when you think about what you’re trying to do, are you afraid, but still excited about it, or are you afraid and dreading it right to the pit of your stomach? If there’s fear, but still excitement, it’s probably the right path for you and working through the fear is probably the best step you can take to bring yourself closer to your dream. If there’s mostly terror or a sickening sense of dread, then listen to that and don’t do it – it’s probably not the best path, or just not the right time.
How to banish your gremlins
So if you’re pretty sure that what you’re dealing with is a gremlin rather than a serious inner warning, then the best thing to do is to continue what you’re doing. Feel the fear, but do it anyway, as they say. Shift your focus back to what you’re working towards, take some time to remember your why, reconnect with your touchstones and all the reasons that you started working towards this dream in the first place.
Remember that you deserve to have your dream come true – there’s nothing you need to prove to anyone else, and no dues you have to pay in order to “earn” the privilege of having your dreams come true. Your dreams are in your heart for a reason, and the fact that they are even there at all is all the proof in the world that they are meant to come true. Reconnect with all of that, and then pull on your determination boots and keep going. Eventually those gremlins will get the picture and give you some peace. They are unlikely to ever disappear completely (they are tenacious little buggers) but after a while, they won’t be so loud anymore.
Strategies for bypassing your gremlins
“Well, that’s just great”, you’re saying, “but HOW, exactly am I supposed to do that?” I’ve got a couple of specific, vibe-shifting strategies that can help you with that, by helping you change the way you see your gremlins. Remember that what we resist persists, so if we pour a lot of energy into trying to destroy gremlins, or fight them, it will likely backfire. So we do it a gentler way and work around them, instead.
Strategy #1: Imagine it’s a pet. Go back to the “Whack-A-Mole” game. Annoying though it is to have bad-tempered gremlins popping their heads up just when you least want to deal with them, they could be kind of cute if you looked at them a little differently. Imagine the gremlins as a cranky, but kind of adorable, cartoon character or a really yappy little dog. Yeah, they can get irritating at times, but you do tend to grow fond of them after a while and might even miss them if they weren’t around. So when those gremlins pop their heads up, imagine yourself patting them on their comical little heads, tell them to “shush” and then toss stick or something to keep them occupied while you get back to work.
Strategy #2: Imagine it’s your highly opinionated granny. When your gremlins pop their head up, imagine it’s someone’s nattering, highly opinionated, but dearly loved old granny. Picture her nattering grouching at you from the back seat of a car you’re driving. You know where you’re going and how to get there, but she’s got her own ideas and insists on telling you that you’re going the wrong way, you’re going to get lost, you’re going to be late, you need to turn here or go there, or whatever. She just won’t shut up and she’s driving you crazy with her complaining, but you really love her and don’t want to hurt her feelings. So you just smile, nod like you’re listening, and keep driving the route you know you need to take. Because you know that at some point, the dear, sweet lady is going to get tired of talking and will hush up and just enjoy the scenery.
Summing it up
So that’s how to banish your gremlins; that’s what they are, that’s what they do, and that’s what you can do about them. If you’ve been struggling with some super-nasty inner critics lately, then give these strategies a try and keep yourself on track to turning those big dreams into reality. You’ve got a gift to share with the world, and you’re the only one who can do it, so don’t let the gremlins get you down!
Photo credit: certified su / Foter / CC BY