Don’t feed the gremlins

We all have parts of ourselves we aren’t proud of, or ways we behave that make us say “I wasn’t myself”. Sometimes these are culturally recognizable states (“hangry” might be a good example) but often they’re our own unique creations with distinctive characteristics particular to us: our gremlins.

You might have noticed that trying to fight a gremlin often inflames rather than de-escalates the problem: the more we try to resist, the more firmly the gremlin gets hold of us. Once we start treating gremlins like opportunities for learning and change, observing them in a detached but curious way, their power loses some of its hold.

Rather than seeing them as inherently destructive, recognising that gremlins have a positive intention which they are trying to communicate to us allows us to work with their higher purpose without getting caught in the ineffective delivery of their methods. Instead of reacting immediately next time you notice a gremlin coming along, take a detached and curious stance to examine what positive purpose this gremlin is trying to communicate to you. How does this gremlin usually manifest itself? What are the conditions that cause this gremlin to appear? What other method or approach might work better for you to hear the gremlin’s important intended message?

One way of de-escalating the gremlins is to re-imagine them with a bit of fun. Getting them out of the mind and into some kind of corporeal representation can make them less overwhelming. People often draw their gremlins. Because I like fabric arts, I’ve made small gremlin figurines. Holding them in my hand reminds me that I can choose to imagine how big or small they are. A few of my favourite gremlins are Professor “I’m So Right”, Mr Tantrum, and “Please Hug Me, I’m The Worst Monster.” As these often appear in quick succession for me, I like to imagine them in a conga line dancing their way off into the distance.

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