This is a guest post from my good friend Andrea Owen of Your Kick Ass Life, who I met in 2008 at one of our coach training workshops through CTI. Andrea and I have been cheering each other on ever since, and I’m thrilled to share her thoughts on Gremlin-taming (one of my favorite subjects!). If this content interests you, Andrea recently released a book (and workbook) called Kick Your Gremlin’s Ass that will help you send that sucker away once and for all. Kick Your Gremlin's Ass (by Andrea Owen)
Let’s say you have a friend you see on a regular every day basis. You’ve had this friend for what seems like forever. And maybe a conversation with this person looks like this:
You: So, I think I’m finally going to write that book I’ve always dreamed about. Friend: Stupid idea. No one will publish it. You: I might get rejected by some publishers true….okay, I’ll self publish. Friend: OMG so embarrassing! It’s so much money! And then what if no one buys the book! Humiliation galore! You: That’s true. I’ll keep my day job. Maybe later…or not. But, I do think I’ll go to the gym today. Friend: Ugh. You’re so fat. Everyone is watching you at the gym and thinks you’re fat.
What an asshole, right? Why on earth would you keep this friend around to have conversations like this? You wouldn’t. But, many people, and maybe even you, have inner-critics that talk this way.
It’s your gremlin. You may know it well, you may have never heard of such thing.
Your gremlin is your inner-critic, a negative voice that tells you things that can range from disempowering, to mean and vicious like the example above. Gremlins are universal, we all have them. Everyone from Oprah, to Suze Orman, to Donald Trump. What all of these successful people have in common is that they have learned to manage it in order to get past imaginary obstacles in order to become so successful. To achieve the level of success and confidence these people have, there is no way their gremlins have a fighting chance.
Fact: You have lived with this gremlin for a very long time.
Ever since you were a child your inner-critic has been with you. It’s changed and evolved, just as you have. Perhaps sometimes it strips you of any power, telling you things such as, “That goal is too hard. It will take too much time/effort/money. Don’t even try” Or, it can be ruthless and mean, saying, “You’re really stupid. No wonder you’re still single, you loser!” Terrible, right?
To make things more complicated, your gremlin has gotten smarter.
The more that you accomplish, the bigger that your life becomes, the more goals you cross off your list, the bigger and louder your gremlin gets. Why? Because as a general rule, gremlin’s don’t like change, risk and vulnerability. They disguise themselves as protectors, but in reality, they want to keep you small. And you’re much too awesome for that.
A Personal Example:
Two months ago I asked another blogger named Jill if I could guest post for her. I figured it was a 50/50 shot that she’d say yes, considering her award-winning blog has very high traffic (and each post gets around 100 comments). Jill said yes, so I wrote the post and emailed it off. And I heard nothing. Three days later I emailed a sheepish, “Hey, did you get my post? Did you like it?”
So, naturally, my gremlin piped up. “She hated it. You are the worst writer ever. Why did you think you could write for someone so big?” I sat on this made up story for TWO MONTHS. I was humiliated. I was convinced the story in my head was true. Until one day I said, “Screw it.” I put on my big girl panties and sent Jill an email. I told her if she didn’t like it, I’d be happy to edit or start over. I braced myself for the criticism. Within the hour she emailed me back, apologizing for dropping the ball. She had simply forgotten. The post went up that week.
So, in effect my gremlin’s made up story was bologna, I allowed it to be the truth until I grew a pair and questioned it.
How many stories has your gremlin made up in your head, that you have accepted as truth? Think about it. I’ll wait……
In true “Jenny Blake style” I can’t say good-bye without giving you tools to manage your own gremlin.
3 Tools for Managing Your Gremlin
- Hear it. Simply notice. If you find yourself attached to a story you’ve made up, your first step is to realize it. Gremlin stories are always from our head. True stories about you, your character and your worth come from your heart and your gut. A step further in this tool is to do this with a buddy. Talk to a trusted friend and do these exercises together. That way when you have a “gremlin attack” and are verbalizing what your gremlin is ranting about, your friend will hopefully recognize and call you out on it.
- Personify it. Draw a picture of your gremlin. It could be a person, an energy, an animal, a character from a movie or comic book. This way when you hear your gremlin speaking, it takes on a separate entity from you. It’s gets easier to say, “Oh, that’s just my gremlin, ‘Squid’ talking.” It may sound silly (and your gremlin is NOT invited to criticize this!), but it works. Keep in mind that however you personify it, may change over time. If the made up character isn’t working for you anymore, come up with a new one. (If you’d like an example, here’s mine)
- Write down the lies and the truths. This works best when you are really stuck on something or anxiety ridden about something coming up. In one column, write down all the mean, power stripping things your gremlin is saying to you. Don’t hold back. Next to them on the other side, write down rebuttals, or the truth. If you’re having a hard time coming up with truths, ask what your most supportive friend or family member would say about the gremlin talk. Or what would your beloved pet say?
Remember that managing your gremlin isn’t the same thing as getting an appendectomy. It won’t be removed forever. But, I can assure you; once you start practicing the steps above on a regular basis, you’ll be much quicker at hearing it, as well as be able to bounce back faster after a “gremlin attack.”
So, go out and kick some ass. Your gremlin’s ass, that is. That beast of an inner-critic will never know what hit him! And, if you’re feeling so inclined, I’d love to hear what your gremlin looks like and what it says in the comments.
About Andrea: Andrea Owen is a speaker and Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC). She holds a Bachelor of Science from California State University in Kinesiology, specializing in Health Science, as well as a personal training certification from the American Council on Exercise since 2005. She is passionate about helping women empower themselves to live their own kick-ass life.