As a coach, gremlins are quite familiar to me. You might call them an inner critic, a judge, a saboteur. Don Miguel Ruiz calls them the narrator. I know them best as gremlins, from my coach training through the Coactive Training Institute and from Rick Carson’s classic work Taming Your Gremlin.
Let’s face it, gremlins can be captivatingly cute or endearingly ugly – if you choose to rework your mental image of them into something you can laugh at or with or convert into something else. Regardless the name or the imagery you give them, ALL such creatures of the mind and psyche often keep us from something, whether it’s as simple as learning how to bowl at age 40 or opening your mouth to sing high notes you just knew you couldn’t hit for the first time. (And I have stories on both of those…)
Here’s the thing: an internalized voice’s job is to keep us safe, in a misguided way. They do it for our benefit, but they aren’t the expert on us. They don’t want to see us hurt, laughed at, shamed, or ridiculed … but it’s somebody else’s standards they use, not ours.
So they play it safe and hold us back. And they often get their power from something we internalized long ago. It can be really hard to remember, uncover or even challenge the genesis of those beliefs that created our personal gremlin-critic-judge-saboteur-narrator.
Sometimes it takes a little work to get out from under a gremlin, and even after we see it and successfully shrink it down to size, it’s usually always with us. We just learn to tame it, to honor its sense of protection, but to move forward without accepting its counsel.
Anyway, I looked out the window at my backyard tree the other cold, cold morning, and thought, “hey, there’s a gremlin in my tree!”
And you know what? That gremlin will always be there. But I know that. And that’s the power I have over it.
In case you can’t see the image, here are the words:
A gremlin’s hiding in my tree, its beady eyes aimed right at me.
I think it’s not inclined to be a mean or nasty entity.
See? Halfway up and safely tucked beneath great boughs of leafy greens,
its mouth surprised into an “O” with curiosity, it seems.
Those small red eyes, unwavering, peer out upon the world it spies.
I wonder what insights they bring to cause this gremlin’s brows to rise?
I blink, and, lo, it’s all erased! Where did my gremlin go?
My tree’s bereft of its quaint face – mere leaves all waving to and fro.
I think I liked that gremlin, true, its eyes of red-tipped leafy starts;
its mouth a quirk of darker growth; but, ah, the wonder it sure sparked!
I know, of course, that how I see my world will bring it back to be:
once seen, a gremlin cannot flee; it’s always, always there for me.
(c) Jennifer Johnston Crow