Watch out for the Gremlin!!

By Ted Behr, M. Ed., CPCC, ACC

Have you ever heard of a Gremlin? Maybe you saw one of the movies or had a toy. That’s not what I am talking about. For this discussion, a Gremlin is a nasty little monster that rides around on our shoulder all day whispering or talking or yelling all sorts of negative things into our ear. It says things like “Who do you think you are?” “You don’t deserve to be successful,” or “You are such a failure.”

gremlins_stripeB2Gremlins get in the way of our being successful. The Gremlin represents the negative conversation that constantly goes on inside our head. But we are usually not aware of this conversation. We don’t hear our Gremlins. We don’t know that he/she/it is there, and yet we make decisions based on what our Gremlin is saying to us. Does this sound familiar? Can you think of decisions you have made that hurt rather than helped you because of that negative self-talk?

The only way to move ahead is to learn to make conscious choices and to do that we need to know what our Gremlin is telling us. We have to start noticing when our Gremlin is around and what it is saying. Only then will we be able to move past our inner obstacles, our limiting beliefs and be successful in our lives.

The concept of the Gremlin comes from the book Taming Your Gremlin by Rick Carson, and I use it with almost all of my coaching clients. I help them learn to become aware of their Gremlins and then to tune them out or at least turn down the volume so that they can hear their own thoughts. Some clients tell their Gremlin to talk a long walk on a short pier or to just “shut up!”

One client imagined a dial on the front of her Gremlin and when he became too loud, she would reach over and turn down the volume knob. Another client imagined her Gremlin as a backseat driver in the car of her life, and when the Gremlin got too obnoxious, she would turn around and tell him, “I’m driving this car, so please shut up!”

The whole point of working with the Gremlin – or whatever you want to call that voice – is to be able to make your choices consciously. So the more you become aware of the conversation, then the better decisions you can make. You get to choose. You can ask yourself, “What do I want? Do I want what my Gremlin is telling me or do I want something different? What is going to be the best for me?” Then make your choice and act on it.

What is your experience with your Gremlin?
What are some of the things he/she/it says to you?
Do you have ways of quieting the Gremlin’s voice?

I would love to hear from you at

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