Body-Mind-Spirit - Inspiration for Writers, Dreamers, and Seekers of Health & Happiness
Gremlins are inner voices that say things like you’re no good or you’re not good enough. They are expert saboteurs and make themselves heard whenever you’re ready to grow, expand, or try something new. Gremlins are preservers of the status quo. They hate change and will do whatever necessary to prevent it. They may be liars, exaggerators, or temper-tantrum throwers—and they will do or say anything to ignite your fear and get you to back down from whatever risk you’re taking, or want to take.
You may not realize your gremlins are manipulating you. I didn’t. For years I didn’t even know I had gremlins. I was unaware of their voices as entities separate from me, as other people’s voices I’d internalized. Instead, I identified with them. I believed my gremlins when they told me I wasn’t good enough, had no talent, and would never fulfill my dreams. Still, I soldiered on because Souls are not easily crushed and mine—like most—was on a mission. I knew what I had to do, but I expressed myself as though I’d been shot in the foot. I hobbled for years while I longed to fly.
After half-a-century of seeking, studying, and creating, I am finally soaring. I awaken each day before the sun rises and can’t wait to get out of bed and work. It’s not that my gremlins are gone, but I’ve figured out how to live with them. Most of the time.
A couple weeks ago they crept up on me while listening to a critique of a chapter I’m writing for my memoir, The Raw Years. I’d naively thought the chapter, after one revision, was finished. As I listened to what the chapter needed, but didn’t yet have, my gremlins grumbled: You’re not a real writer, you’ll never be good enough, why are you wasting your time, this sucks--you suck! The attack reduced me to tears, and for an hour I felt wounded—until I pulled out my computer journal and let my gremlins rant openly on my laptop screen.
Here’s a synopsized glimpse of their tirade: Aren’t you ashamed of yourself for being so stupid? You should know better, be better and do better. If you can’t blow everybody away with how great you are, why try? Mediocrity is repulsive. You are repulsive. Better stop trying. The blog is crap. The book proposal won’t sell. If you write about your family they’ll disown you—and they’re all you’ve got since you have no friends.
At one point I laughed out loud at how ridiculous these statements were. I’d never speak to anyone this way—least of all people I hoped to nurture, teach, support, or inspire.
Still, I knew my gremlins needed more airtime, as well as compassion, so I initiated an acknowledging conversation with them. Here’s a clip edited for brevity:
Bella: I love and respect you and I’m grateful to you because I know you’re trying to help me.
Gremlin: That’s right. I’m trying to cover your back. You dream too much. Dreams are dangerous. They set you up for disappointment.
Bella: I hear you and know this is scary for you, but dreams are also wonderful. I’m doing what I need to do and I feel supported on many levels by multiple guides—both physical and spiritual.
Gremlin: You’re crazy and you suck. You’re not good enough. You have no friends.
Bella: I’m sorry you feel that way. I’m just showing up and doing my part. Plenty people think they aren’t god enough—oops, that was a slip! I meant to say good enough, but god works just as well. God resides in all of us. So I don’t think it’s possible for anyone not to be good enough. Miracles happen all the time. Success occurs when preparation meets opportunity. I’ve spent thirty years preparing. Now I’m creating opportunities. If you want a different result you have to try something different, right? Besides, it’s okay if all my dreams don’t come true. I enjoy pursuing them. I understand your fear. It’s okay. I appreciate that you’re trying to protect me.
This conversation with my gremlins was very supportive. It reminded me that they do have my best interest at heart, and mean well, but are—like overprotective parents—living in fear. It also helped to think of them as children who haven’t yet learned to control themselves, so they exaggerate, dramatize, and create much ado about nothing because they are afraid.
Acknowledgment and reassurance is a more effective coping strategy than ignoring or banishing gremlins. It helps when I think of myself as a loving parent and treat them like I would my children—with love and compassion. It also helps when I ask for Spiritual assistance and trust that Divine Intelligence is working through me. This reassures me to heed my desires. Dreams are the stirrings of the soul. Julia Cameron says we are all in charge of taking steps, but we are not in charge of the outcome—which is up to gods (a term I use loosely), not gremlins.
Want to read more about identifying and coping with gremlins? Check out Taming Your Gremlins: A Surprisingly Simple Method for Getting Out of Your Own Way, by Rick Carson.
As always, I invite comments, observations, and musings.