Taming Your Gremlin

Awareness is a powerful weapon against the inner critic.  

I hope that since my previous post you have had an opportunity to observe the critic, to become aware of when it’s speaking to you and what sorts of situations trigger it.

Did you observe how gremlin thoughts start to lose power the minute you shine your awareness on them?  Awareness by itself is actually all you need to overcome some of the smallest gremlins.  They scatter like cockroaches when the light of awareness touches them.  However, for some gremlins that have been around a very long time with messages we have taken on as beliefs, we need awareness first along with some other tools to help free us from the stranglehold they place on our energy.

Get to know your personal gremlin.

Visualizing or creating a physical representation of the inner critic is a great tool to use to understand that the gremlin is separate from us, and that the messages of the gremlin are NOT our inner voice, but actually come from outside of ourselves. 

I first visualized my gremlins as cockroaches because I enjoy thinking about them scattering when I shine my light of awareness on them.  When I took a class aimed at overcoming the programming of the inner critic, we were assigned the task of creating a physical representation of the gremlin.  My first idea was to photoshop the face of a person yelling at me onto a cockroach. 

The idea made me smile, but I really wanted something I could punch if I wanted to, so I bought a puppet from Paisley’s Puppets in Oakland, and gave her a hat to wear.

This is my own personal gremlin, Kalista Kockroach Krabapple III.

I keep Kalista where I can see her daily to remind me that I am not the voices in my head. 

Create your own gremlin if the idea resonates for you!  I know for some clients, the idea of thinking about the inner critic as a “gremlin” does NOT resonate.  If that’s the case for you, that’s cool.  Try calling it inner critic or ego, or Ralph, or cluttered mind, or anything that helps you think of it as “not you” because those messages are NOT you, and we want to begin to set it apart from the self.

Physical Signals

Once I realized that these messages were not my own, it dawned on me that the reason I felt so shitty when thinking inner critic thoughts is because they are NOT true.  When things resonate, they feel good physically and lift our energy!  Truth resonates. 

Resonate means ‘to produce resonance.’  Resonance is defined as ‘the quality of being deep, full, and reverberating,’ or ‘the ability to evoke or suggest images, memories, and emotions.’  Truth does this. Capital T.

A thought that is not true, on the other hand, does the opposite of resonate.  It makes us physically recoil.  That little knot in the pit of your gut, or under your solar plexus is your physical being recoiling from something that your core essence KNOWS is not true.  This physical recoil takes place for the same reason our hand would recoil from a flame: to avoid pain.  That physical signal is a communication from the Highest Self to avoid that thought that feels so icky.

Let that soak in.  The physical sensation you get when you think a thought that feels crappy is a signal to BACK THE FUCK AWAY from that thought.  “That thought will cause you pain.”  “Don’t go there.”  That’s your gut instinct screaming to get your attention.

How does this resonate for you?  Don’t take my word for this stuff, check in with your gut.  When you read the information above, did it resonate?  Make you recoil?

Tell your gremlin to fuck off!

Once I learned that the inner critic was NOT me, and I learned to identify that physical sensation that told me the gremlin was lying to me again, I wanted those cockroaches OUT of my head!  When I would hear the nasty little bastards starting in, I visualized myself flicking them away like the tiny vermin they are.

Once when I turned to a friend with an issue I thought was a struggle, she gave me some really solid advice.  Her email contained wisdom, reassurance, validation, and these beautiful seven words:

Flicking them away and telling them to fuck off allowed me to reclaim my own power.  For me, as well as many other people, this is a vitally important step.  When I was in coaching school, we talked a LOT about the inner critic because gremlin messages are one of the biggest issues people bring to coaching. 

That’s where I learned that telling the inner critic to fuck off is a great first step, but is not usually enough to exterminate the cockroaches.  For that, we need to understand the message and it’s original purpose, because their purpose was never to get us to live small and stay scared.  That was the outcome of their message once it outlived it’s usefulness.

Understand it’s true purpose.

The true purpose of the cluttered thoughts, gremlin messages, inner critic voice is sometimes to protect us from perceived harm.  

For instance: If your father backhanded you so hard you flew across the room when you voiced an opinion that didn’t agree with his, you may have developed a message that said, “Never speak your truth – it causes pain,” or, “Never disagree with those in authority,” or, “Your ideas are NOT valid,” or, “No one wants to hear your thoughts,” or any number of other ideas that may have kept you safe in that particular situation, but are now standing in the way of you experiencing your life to the fullest.

Some messages are meant to control us.  For instance: Maybe an ex-spouse told you repeatedly that you are unloveable, and followed that up with actions that seemed to prove the point.  That message actually says far more about the ex than about you, but if self-esteem is low enough, or if you have been practicing thoughts about being unworthy, you may buy this message wholesale.  Then when the marriage ends, the gremlins tell us that no one will ever love us.  And it’s possible, that the gremlins are trying to protect us again!  They are trying to keep us out of situations that might hurt.

If any of this resonates for you, you are NOT alone!  

Are you getting a slight knot in your solar plexus, or a slight feeling of nausea?  Remember, that feeling of physical recoil means those thoughts are NOT true!

The important thing here is to understand that these messages came from outside of self.  They were intended to keep you safe, or were the agenda of outside forces.  WHERE they came from is NOT important!  You may immediately recognize where some of your inner critic messages come from, but please don’t waste time trying to figure out where or when or why your messages came to you.

Simply recognize that where you are now, those messages no longer serve a purpose, so it’s safe to start leaving them behind and embrace Truth of your awesomeness.  The faster you do, the better you feel!

Train the inner critic for a NEW job!

So, you have this really powerful voice inside your head that you’ve been listening to for a while now, and it seems like the voice is trying to help you on some level, even though it’s messages are constantly draining your energy.  How do we stop the ebb of energy into negative thought patterns and redirect it into building new, more positive thought pathways?

You’re probably getting good at being aware of your personal inner critic messages by now.  Maybe you’ve even visualized your gremlin and know it’s name.  So now it’s time to begin retraining the gremlin.  It wants to help, so let’s give it something helpful to do!

Retrain that inner critic to repeat messages that build your energy and give you motivation. 

When I first went to coaching school, my gremlin ROARED that everyone in class was more educated than me, better coaches than me, and that I had nothing to offer.  “Keep quiet so they won’t know how much you DON’T know!”

Like I said, we did a LOT of coaching on gremlins at iPEC, and I discovered that almost everyone in class had gremlins as loud and as mean as mine were!  All of us had some version of the same message: “You are not enough.”  It was a revelation to understand that I was not alone.  We are all exactly the same in our own unique ways!

So I began to picture Kalista in a little cheerleading uniform.  I mentally had her turn her dunce cap into a bull horn, and every time one of the old thoughts popped in to say, “you are not smart enough,” I pictured Kalista shouting it down with rallying cries of, “Cyndi is a ROCKSTAR coach and an awesome person with valuable insights to offer the other coaches in this class!”  Complete with pompoms.

Grow on!

How would you like to reimagine your inner critic? 
What messages would you enjoy hearing? 
What messages are inspiring for you ? 
What messages will motivate you to move closer to your goal? 
What will change in your life once you change the voices in your head? 
What inner critic message seems LOUDEST in your head? 
How would you like to re-write that one? 

What questions do you still have about taming that inner critic? 
Ask your questions in the comments below this post!


Read Rick Carson’s Book!

If you want to learn more about taming gremlins, follow this link to order Taming Your Gremlin: A Surprisingly Simple Method for Getting Out of Your Own Way by Rick Carson. It’s the preeminent work on gremlin taming and a very useful book full of inspired illustrations.  He also has a Facebook page you can access here.


For over 400 positive affirmations and uplifting reminders on my landscape photography, follow this link.

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