Have you noticed this? At certain points in your life, specific books, movies, talks etc seem to spontaneously ‘find’ you, instead of you finding them.
The book that recently ‘found’ me is called Taming your Gremlin. A Surprisingly Simple Method for Getting Out of Your Own Way, by Rick Carson.
A month ago, I stumbled across this book when searching for something completely different, and because I instantly loved the title, I bought it on the spot.
I just finished reading it, and it’s brilliant: funny and really smart. And best thing: the method is just as simple as promised.
So I decided to share with you my new strategy to feeling happy & zen: Gremlin Taming (if you don’t already know it).
What’s a Gremlin?
‘Your Gremlin is the narrator in your head’ – and often you feel as if that narrator, your Gremlin, is YOU. Your Gremlin is with you always and she (or he) tells you who you are, what you should feel, believe, do etc. Your Gremlin is very smart and very cunning, and her primary goal is make you feel bad. To do that, she uses your past experiences, your fears, your negative thoughts to create a negative image of your future.
What’s Gremlin Taming?
Well, honestly: Carson wrote an entire book about it, one that I highly recommend. In this post, I can just offer you my most important take aways.
1) The first thing to do, is start to Simply Notice your Gremlin.
Simply Noticing means just that: simply notice. There’s really nothing more to it, and boy, does it help! Since I started to simply notice my Gremlin, I’ve found that she manifests through a tight feeling in my stomach first. After that, she starts to talk to me: sometimes negative ‘you cannot do this’ kind of stuff, but sometimes she’s more cunning and she (for example) uses fears of losing the people I love as a way to lure me into a specific direction. It even went so far that I thought this was my intuition speaking to me (read my blog on how to distinguish fear from intuition if you relate to that).
I love how Carson summarises the origin of ‘simply noticing’, the Zen Theory of Change:
how I am imprisoning myself in the very moment I am imprisoning myself’.
2) Gremlins use al sorts of myths to lure you away from being your true self.
Like: the natural you is unlovable/unacceptable. Suffering is noble. Fast is good and slow is bad. Nice girls don’t enjoy sex. To show anger is to be out of control/ childish/ unprofessional. Worry has value. Guilt has value. More is better. Less is better.
Etc. Etc. Etc.
3) The value of centering yourself and using a simple mantra.
One of the best tips in the book is to center yourself daily, and every time you experience your Gremlin, by breathing into your belly and saying a mantra: ‘I am taming…’ (when the in-breath passes past your heart) ‘… my Gremlin’ (when the out-breath passes your heart).
THIS REALLY WORKS!
4) ‘Should’, ‘ought to’, ‘must’ are words used by Gremlins.
Any time you use any of these, you’re basically allowing your Gremlin to take the reign. There is no should, must or ought to in Gremlin Taming. The whole method is about noticing what’s going on, then playing with the different options that are present for you in any given moment and then choosing what to do. You can for example choose to engage in a conversation with your Gremlin or ignore her all together.
The key take-away from the book is:
There’s No Winning From Your Gremlin.
She will change her story and approach every time, using new information. The whole idea about Taming your Gremlin, is that you learn to NOT engage (unwillingly) and to NOT believe whatever she comes up with.
And to start realizing that the real you IS NOT your Gremlin, but the person observing your Gremlin.
The reason I’m sharing this with you, is that I know you might be struggling with your Gremlin, instead of ‘simply noticing’ him/her.
Just like I was.
Reading Carson’s book helped me a lot, and I really hope that if you are indeed stuck with a Gremlin that has a lot of power over you, you’ll explore the method further.
Let me know if you do. I am curious to hear your experiences.