Dealing with the inner gremlin


"You are so stupid and wrong!"

"Be quiet, or else they will know you don't belong here.”

"Don't sit there. That seat is for the talented people."

Funny how we let our inner voice talk to us in ways that we would never allow anyone else. We teach children to be kind, considerate, yet we allow this inner voice to abuse us within our psyche.

In some ways, the mind rationalizes that this ‘gremlin' is there to protect the body from harm. The mind seeks the known and familiar, and everything else is considered risky or too challenging. But is the inner voice really harmless and protective?

I know mine – whom I call Detective McWhatzit – is an evil little voice that I should fire immediately. But I don’t because I’m so used to his narrative that I hardly even notice anymore. Have you ever been about to make a choice and heard that voice give you advice, and then sadly followed it? What is that about anyway?

According to Sigmund Freud this little voice, i.e., gremlin, is a manifestation of your Id. The human psyche contains three elements: Id is the base motivation that seeks instant gratification. The Ego is the control center that finds an acceptable way to get what the Id wants. Then there is the Superego, who applies the morals and standards of society and which the Ego must rely on for guidance. In simple terms – Id is the impatient toddler, and the Superego is society looking down its’ nose while the Ego is the mother trying to placate both sides.

So what do you do about this nagging little-voiced gremlin in your head? The first step is to notice him there. When do you hear your negative inner voice? Is it during work when you there is a new challenge with a project? Is it when you are in a group of strangers and finding it hard to introduce yourself?

These gremlins pop up at any moment and tell you self-defeating slogans you are all too used to hearing. So take a moment when you feel the stress creeping up on you. Take a deep breath and quiet the mind. Listen to he voice’s negative rants, the belittling tirades and then do what you would do to any bully. Tell him/her to shut up.

Really, it is that simple. Bring in your logical mind to stop the bantering and to debunk the reality the gremlin is trying to instill. Ask yourself if the comments have any bearing on reality. I have a game where I imagine I am Sherlock Holmes working on a case with Detective McWhatzit. Sherlock begins to hear the theories from the detective and disqualifies each and every one with logic.

Try this:

Detective McWhatzit: “You don’t know what you are doing? Everyone is going to discover you are a fraud.”

Sherlock Dawna: How can that be true? You have more than 20+ years handling these situations. You successfully handled this very situation last year. So shut up Detective. You are the idiot.”

Wasn’t that fun? I love telling Detective McWhatzit to shut up. Give it a try. I guarantee you will feel better afterward.

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