Gremlin Taming: how to free yourself from your inner critic

Picture of a garden gremlinI’ve been revisiting a gem of a book; “Taming Your Gremlin A surprisingly simple method for getting out of your own way” by Rick Carson. I’ve worked with this marvelous material with my coaching clients over the last few years to help them overcome self limiting beliefs and negative self talk.  I’ve found Rick’s book so useful that today I registered for a 3 month tele-course with him to learn more “Gremlin Taming” strategies and techniques.  Here’s why I like his work and this book in particular:

  1. It is written simply, no esoteric detail or religious dogma.
  2. The author personifies the “narrator in your head” as a Gremlin who influences you. (My concept of a gremlin is like the picture above.  I found this little gray guy at my son’s house this summer just hanging out in the garden.)
  3. It is flat out full of laugh out loud bits especially the stories from the author’s personal experience.
  4. There are fill in the blank pages, like a kid’s Big Book of Fun, to help the reader with self discovery.
  5. In describing the “acts” we put on, he uses such terms as “Back to the Land Woodsman, Red Hot Mama, Pious Puritan, Hard Rocker, Damsel in Distress and Macho Man”.  (Have you met some of those folks?  Yeah, me too!)
  6. Lots of pages have hand drawn illustrations, most of which are quite humorous.
  7. The definitions are clear and easy to understand;

“Your Gremlin: is the narrator in your head.  He has influenced you since you came into this world. He’s with you when you wake up in the morning and when you go to sleep at night.  He tells you who and how you are, and he defines and interprets your every experience.  He wants you to accept his interpretations as reality, and his goal, from moment to moment, day to day is to squelch the natural, vibrant you within….your Gremlin wants you to feel bad.”

The Natural You:  is the one inside that miraculous mass of matter out of which you are now peering.  The natural me is inside my own body, which is at this moment holding a pen.  From inside this aging sculpture of hair, eyes, teeth and limbs, the natural me is writing the words, “Hello in there”.  You just pulled in through your eyes the words, “Hello in there.”  The natural you understands the essence of my words. Your mind is busy making sense out of them.  Your Gremlin, meanwhile, is gnashing his teeth and screeching something like “This is ridiculous!” or “You’re just going to get your hopes up and end up disappointed.  Nothing’s going to change, least of all you.” Or “You need another self help book like a hole in the head.”

“Beliefs: are just opinions that we develop loyalty to, so that we can pretend that the world has at least a modicum of predictability.  Doing so helps us feel safe.  Ironically, we sometimes fight to defend our beliefs, creating anything but a safe situation.”  (so true!)

Taming Your Gremlin is both playful and powerful.  It emphasizes self inquiry and self acceptance as the keys to higher awareness.  If you are looking for liberation from your inner critic, check out this book.  And come on back and visit this blog.  I’m sure I’ll post more on Gremlin Taming as I go through the tele-course.  Here is the author’s website:

In relationship to your (spotlight of) awareness, you can be a passenger or a driver, a victim or a participant, a pawn or a player  You choose.  Not once and for all, but in each moment of your precious life.”  –Rick Carson

Life Appreciation Through Comics

bowing-budsEvery morning I start the day with an herbal tea or an occasional cup of coffee, and the comics in the paper.  Monday morning I came across the following from “Pooch Cafe“, in which two dogs were watching a third chase a butterfly in the park:

“Why is that dog so happy?”

“He’s not happy, he is appreciating.  He’s at the end of the world’s largest retractable leash, and the handle slipped out of his master’s hand and is hurtling toward him.  He’s now appreciating all the little things in life he took for granted.  It’s actually a valuable lesson.  In a way, we’re all at the end of  retractable leashes that have slipped out of our masters’ hand.”

This is a striking metaphor, and particularly pertinent to me as over the weekend, my only aunt, “Sis,” was pulled back home by the “master’s leash.”  Sis was my father’s sister, hence the nickname.  Anne, as she was known to everyone else, was an artist who lived in Greenwich Village in NYC during the heyday of the early 60’s.  In addition to being a masterful painter of modern art, she was a fabulous photographer.  Her work can be found in the pages of old Book of Knowledge encyclopedias; she is listed as the Art Editor on the cover pages of most volumes.

In the last five years of her life, Sis found great peace and serenity while living in a spiritual community with like-minded others.  She thrived there in the natural landscape of rural North Carolina, where all of the community members worked together to tend the grounds, prepare organic meals with the locally grown produce, and share in the stillness of daily meditations.  Although her health and peace of mind improved dramatically in her time there, she could not reverse congestive heart failure, and she passed away lovingly surrounded by members of her community.

I celebrate her life and will cherish the memories I hold of times we shared.  Her passing and the subtly profound comic strip remind me that we are only here until the leash retracts, and none of us knows how long it is.  Just like the dog in the strip and my aunt in her later years, we should remember to appreciate our lives.

A meditation on appreciation:

Stop whatever you are doing in this moment, close you eyes and take a breath.  Appreciate that breath, the way it feels  and the life it brings into your body.  Appreciate the health that you have.  Open your eyes and look at your surroundings.  Be grateful for what you can see and appreciate where you are.  Think of your family and friends and appreciate them for who they are and what they bring into your life.   Now come back to your breath, and appreciate who you are, and the expression of life that you bring into the world.

–in appreciation of my daughter Nicole Relyea (@nicolerelyea) for her ongoing support of my work and her wonderful editing of my writings.  – Dee