ArticlesPositive Attitude

Taming Your Gremlin

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"Who am I fooling?" "I'm a loser," "I'm too old," "I'm fat," "I'm not smart enough," "I have no talent," "I'll never finish it," "It's too late," "I'm not good enough," and on and on.

Sound familiar?

Have you ever started a project or had an idea, only to abandon it as soon as negative self-talk arose? You know what I mean ~ those nasty little voices that stop you from getting what you want?

The longer I work with people, the more convinced I am that a majority of suffering could be alleviated by the simple task of taming one's Gremlin (or gremlins).

"Gremlin," is "an imaginary small creature humorously blamed for the faulty operation of airplanes or the disruption of any procedure," according to Webster's New World Dictionary.

While Webster's defines Gremlin with a twist of humor, I don't think there's anything funny about the destruction Gremlins leave in their wake.

I regularly hear about unfulfilled dreams, unwritten books, unsung songs and unlived lives. If you can change your beliefs, you can change your life.

In his book, "Taming Your Gremlin, A Guide to Enjoying Yourself, " Richard Carson says, "There's a Gremlin within you. He is the narrator in your head."

Some people think this narrator is their conscience speaking. I don't think so. My belief is that our conscience only tells us good things such as, "Call your mother," or "Give money to the poor." Carson says, "In order to tame your Gremlin, you must detect his presence; and to detect his presence, you must differentiate yourself from him."

So ? what can you do? Here are some suggestions.

First, remember that your Gremlin isn't you, it's only a bad habit formed long ago in an effort to protect yourself from rejection.

Second, remember the third law of motion from Physics: for every action, there's an equal and opposite reaction. So, for every negative statement you've told yourself, there is an equal positive statement. Here's an exercise I do with clients and in seminars. Take a piece of paper and fold it in half. On the left hand side, write down all the comments that come to mind whenever you set out to try something new or fail at something.

Give yourself some time to make a list of 8 or 10 statements.

On the right hand side, write the mirror image of the negative one. For example, if you've written, "I'm too old," the mirror image would be, "There's still time." If you've written, "I'm stupid," the mirror image would be, "I'm smart."

When you're finished you'll have your own, very personal list of affirmations. Copy these onto nice paper and post them in prominent places. Look at them and read them throughout the day and see how it feels. It sure beats beating yourself up. These affirmations have just as much weight as the negative ones, and a lot more power if you make room for them to grow inside you.

At first they feel awkward and unnatural to say, just like beginning a new work out program feels unnatural. With time, these new statements can be formed into a new habit replacing the old ones and changing your life in subtle and not so subtle ways.

What do you have to lose?

Carol Moss
LCSW, Life Coach,

Carol Moss is a LCSW and Life Coach who loves working with smart, creative women who want to figure out what's next in their lives. A graduate of Bryn Mawr College, she has been a life coach for 5 years and a therapist for 10 years. Carol brings many disciplines to her coaching, including her training, many years performing as a professional actress and life experience. She is also a professional singer, performing with the duo The Sparkle Sisters (

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