(Archived post, originally published May, 2011.)
The Gremlin. It's your inner-critic, negative voice and disempowering entity. We all have it, and it varies from person to person, as well as evolves and changes over time in all of us. Here are 7 signs your gremlin is ruling you and maybe running your life. You don't have to be stuck, paralyzed or defeated by this voice. There are ways to manage it!
1. You’re paralyzed in indecision. It could be any decision. What to wear that day, or whether to marry your partner or not. To spend the money on the vacation you’ve always wanted, or whether to cut your hair or not. The big, bad four-letter word here is FEAR and it’s your gremlin’s favorite cocktail. It wants to keep you in fear so you won’t make any changes. Change is not something your gremlin likes, because change requires courage and confidence in yourself. I’m not saying it’s imperative for you to have 100% confidence in all decisions you make all the time. Sometimes we need to jump without a net, and get off the fence we’ve been standing on for so long. However, if you’re the type of person that stands on the fence for long periods of time, it’s about time you think about WHY you stand in indecision for so long.
What to do: What is the voice saying to you? Stop and listen, write it down. Write down worst-case scenario (and I mean, absolute WORST). Write down what your gremlin says about that. Look at what you wrote and honestly ask yourself if this is likely to happen. Or is your gremlin voice convincing you of it?
Bottom line: Staying paralyzed in indecision is a clear sign your gremlin voice is keeping you stagnant, so getting clear on all the “what if’s” will help you decide.
2.You constantly compare yourself to others and make conclusions about yourself based on that. We’ve all done it. Our gremlins have been “Comparison Queens” for longer than we’d like to admit. Doing this is human, and I could never tell someone to stop completely, because I don’t believe it’s possible, and will just give your gremlin a new thing to beat you up over. What’s detrimental to your life (yes, your whole life) is when you come to concrete conclusions about yourself based on this type of thinking. The thing is; NO ONE is perfect. No matter what the package looks like on the outside, it in no way mirrors what is going on inside. Your gremlin is making up stories about people (a lot of times people we don’t even know), and making up a bigger story about you and your life. Sounds crazy, right?
What to do: Find your triggers. Is Facebook making you stalk others profiles and concluding that others lives are fabulous while yours sucks? Do celebrity magazines or catalogs trigger you into feeling like crap about your life or your body? When you find yourself feeling terrible about yourself, back up and find out what got you there. And makes changes about it. Maybe you need to limit your Facebook time or stop reading the magazines that trigger you.
Bottom line: We all compare ourselves to others. It happens. But, if you’re basing your worth on this, it’s a problem. Find out what your triggers are do something about it. Or let your gremlin decide. Your choice.
3. You have a dream, but have done nothing or little to get there. It doesn’t matter what the dream is. Your dream is your dream, no matter how big it is, or how long you’ve been dreaming it. Maybe you’ve told 50 people about it, or no one at all. If you haven’t done anything about your dream, I’ll bet you a million dollars your gremlin has a lot to say about that dream you’ve got tucked away in your pocket.
What to do: Make a list of all the things your gremlin says about your dream. Then read it back to yourself. Next to each of those phrases, write a rebuttal or argument against it. It doesn’t matter if you believe it or not. Example: Gremlin says, “You’re too old to achieve this dream”. Rebuttal: “This is MY life, and it’s never too late to do what I know in my heart is possible!”
Bottom line: Your dream is your dream. NO ONE should be judging it, especially not your gremlin.
4. You only feel good about yourself if other people tell you constantly. Of course we all love to be acknowledged for what we do, as well as receive compliments about ourselves. There’s nothing wrong with that. But, if you’re basing your worth based on other people building you up or not, you’re setting yourself up for disaster. Your gremlin will find that big open door with a welcome mat underneath.
What to do: Write 100 things you love about yourself. Then 100 things you’re good to great at. Seems lofty, but you need it. Your gremlin IS NOT invited to this exercise!
Bottom line: You are in charge of your self-esteem and self-worth. No one filled out a job application to do that for you.
5. The thought of getting to a place of self love and self-acceptance scares the shit out of you and/or seems very far away. Some people have gremlins that are very specific in this area. Self-love seems conceited and self-acceptance is uncomfortable, so says the gremlin. This particular thing I see often, and once made progress on, can open doors to your life you didn't even know were closed.
What to do: This may be a place where therapy is good for you (or, here's another solution) . Work on what’s keeping you in self-loathing, or not being able to accept who you truly are. It might be stuff from your past. A good place to start is by not apologizing for who you are and what you stand for. Remember- It doesn’t come over night. Take it one little baby step at a time.
Bottom line: Getting to a place where you can fulfill your dreams, be in awesome relationships, and live your life as fulfilled will be very hard if you can’t come to a place of self-love and acceptance of who you are.
6. You think in terms of black or white. Either you’re a marathon runner or you’re a lazy person. Either your house is immaculate, or you’re a slob. Being in the middle or “grey area” is uncomfortable. This is a big sign of perfectionism, something that is all too common. And P.S. gremlins LOVE this type of thinking. They’ll jump on the comparison train, and make lofty, unattainable goals for you.
What to do: First, be mindful of it. Sometimes that’s the hardest part, especially when a person has been thinking this way forever. Second, when you find yourself having this type of all or nothing thinking, get clear about what the middle is for you. Maybe it’s taking on ONE project at a time, or taking baby steps to exercise.
Bottom line: This type of thinking will never serve you. It’s gremlin language and will always set you up to feel like a failure.
7. You’ve been in a place of self-pity and/or victimhood for too long. Being the guest of honor at your own pity party for too long is a sure-fire way to party with your gremlin. Yes, grieve and be sad when you have to, but MOVE ON when it’s over. Your gremlin won’t want to move out, but it’s SO important in order for you to get back in the driver’s seat of your life.
What to do: Do what you need to do to be sad, angry, lonely and whatever feelings come up. If you listen to sad music, do it. Cry as much as you need to. LISTEN to what the negative voice is saying in this situation. If it’s a break-up, are you hearing that you’re unlovable? If you’re hearing conclusions about yourself that are self-defeating, THIS is your gremlin. Be mindful that these are made up stories and lies.
Bottom line: Pity poo-poo parties are okay, but don’t wear out your welcome. Say good-bye to the party and your gremlin!