We all have one. That little voice inside our head that likes to ‘help’ us by offering us advice whether want it or not.
You know the type of advice I mean. It’s the “What do you mean you want to try that. Are you crazy?” or the straight out “You can’t do that!”
You can tell that the advice is coming from your Gremlin because it is always tinged with fear or anxiety or stress.
I met my Gremlin quite some time ago. I imagine that she looks something like the Gremlin in the picture above. My Gremlin, lets call her Bella, likes to offer me all kinds of advice on all kinds of topics, like, how I should be living my life, what job I should be working at, my relationship with my partner and my kids, my relationship with money, and so on.
I used to listen to Bella’s advice, because when I didn’t I would be gripped by anxiety and stress – not pleasant. Bella didn’t like it when I didn’t listen to her, because as far as Bella was concerned, she was keeping me safe. She was offering me reasonable excuses (as far as she was concerned) on why I shouldn’t be taking risks, trying new things. The more I argued with her, the more stressed and anxious I would become.
From Bella’s point of view, if I didn’t try, I didn’t fail and I didn’t experience pain. If I remained invisible, not living the life I dreamed of, I remained safe – no one could criticize me for anything.
Finally I began to realize that staying safe was not where I wanted to be any more.
That stress and anxiety were not really all that bad for me, at least when taken in moderation. That when viewed correctly both stress and anxiety in realistic amounts were signs that I was living my life. I was being seen, taking risks, having adventures, and this was a good thing. This meant that I was doing things – things that were fun and challenging and adventurous.
Today Bella still lives with me and she continues to give me advice. But now, instead of believing everything she says and following her blindly I simply notice. When I simply notice Bella, she gets to say what she wants to say, I get to notice her warnings and concerns, and then I get to choose for myself what I am going to do. Not a bad arrangement.
My precious Gremlin Bella still keeps me safe, but now it’s “safe” on my terms not hers, and I love her for that.
We all have our own personal Gremlin (or Lizard, or Monkey, or however you want to refer to it) that likes to keep us safe by trying to stop us from being vulnerable, from taking risks, from living life fully and in the open. It doesn’t matter where your Gremlin got its ideas and beliefs from, whether it was from your family while you were growing up, or your community’s beliefs, or your culture’s values, these are simply thoughts that you can choose to accept or not.
You might need to remind your Gremlin of this more often than not, but it is so worth it.