“If you give your inner genius as much credence as your inner critic, you will be light years ahead of where you stand”- Alan Cohen
When was the last time your gremlins showed up in your life?
As someone who grew up in the world between the rich and the poor of Burma, I got to see both sides of the world.
While I was the witness of the dark secrets of the rich, I was also the spectator of the struggles of the poor. While a part of me was influenced by the lifestyle of the rich, a part of me empathised with the conditions of the poor.
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At 8, I was into wandering around our neighbourhood, playing with street kids, selling things on the street side so I could raise money for the families who lived in thatched huts.
At 22, I moved to another country and started working in an investment bank. Suddenly, I was in a big city and surrounded by people who talked about how many carrots they ate and what ab classes they attended.
I felt like a crow among a flock of doves and my self-talk, a.k.a. inner gremlin, was born. I wasn’t fashionable enough. I wasn’t slim enough. I wasn’t eating carrots enough. I wasn’t partying enough. I wasn’t cool enough.
Before I realised, I’d disappeared down the rabbit hole where I was ashamed of myself. My inner gremlins took over the role of running my life.
Before I knew it, the self-talk turned into shame. Then into self-loathing. All because I was comparing myself with others. When was the last time you compared yourself to someone else?
That didn’t make you feel good, did it?
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Then one day I woke up and found myself in front of a mirror. And I didn’t like the person looking back at me. I stripped myself naked and looked at every part of my body. First with disgust, then shame. And then tears started streaming down my face.
Out of nowhere, I said to myself “I love you. It’s not you who’s been saying mean things to you. You temporarily rented out space to a gremlin.”
That was the moment I realised that when we’re not waking up intentionally every day and conscious of our mental space, it’s so easy for something else to take over. I then made a promise to myself that I will be the Mother Teresa to my inner-child and the Guardian of my spirit and the Protector of my mental space.
Bye bye Gremlin. And hello Arabelle.
Since then, I’ve been diligently practicing my daily rituals that have not only changed my mindset but also propelled my life into directions that I never thought was possible.
We’re creatures of habit. Routines are what makes things easy for us. If you didn’t know, pay attention to which side you start brushing your teeth every morning and which side you start soaping. It’s always the same.
How do you drive a car without having to think about all the things you need to do?
Memory. Habit. Routine. Neurons that fire together wire together.
In our brain, there are neuro-pathways that create our thought patterns. Imagine walking on the same path on the grass patch. The more you walk, the bigger the footpath becomes. So when we train ourselves to think of things in a certain way, without us having to even think about it, we’re already running our operating system in the patterns.
If we can create patterns that give power to the inner gremlin, then we can also create new patterns that tame it.
5 Ways To Tame Your Inner Gremlin
So if you’re someone who has been saying mean things to yourself, comparing yourself with others, always feeling the need to fit in with, if not be better than, others and feeling that “you’re just not good enough”, you’ll find these steps helpful for you.
As you know, awareness is everything. When we don’t pay attention, we go into auto-pilot mode. That’s why meditation and some other self-help practices come in handy because it helps you to create that deep connection with yourself and see yourself clearly why you are the way you are.
So the first step is to pay attention; not from the place of judging yourself but from a place of witnessing. Write out the thoughts that come into your mind throughout the day – especially the negative ones. You’ll be surprised how you’ve been programming your mind.
2. Heart vs. Ego
Most of the time, the intention of the ego is not to hurt us but to keep us safe. One of the basic human instincts is to stick to the familiar, and the ego is scared of going to places where it hasn’t been.
So when you start hearing negative thoughts, the easiest way you can identify whether it’s coming from ego or your heart is to write them down. For example, “You’re not good enough” – the ego. “Try your best and you’ll get there” – your heart. If you hear only the negative, check in with your heart to see what it would say. The heart always has something to say, but most of the time, it’s just very subtle and gentle. Write it down without any judgment.
3. Choosing consciously
Every day when we wake up, we’re always choosing something. But if we’re not paying attention, we’ll choose what’s automatic for us, i.e. the inner gremlins.
I now have a practice of waking up every day setting mini-intentions. For example, “Today I choose to be a little bit more kind to myself even if I think I’m not good enough”, “Today I choose to trust in life even if things are a bit challenging”, “Today I choose to be grateful for the life I get to live”. Just like everything else, when we choose the thoughts that benefit us consciously over and over again, then it becomes a habit.
I find that the key to living a successful life (whatever your definition of success may be) is to have clarity. Clarity of where you are, where you want to be, where the gaps are, and finally, the most important question: “Who do I need to be today for me to step into the future version of myself that I aspire to be?” If we don’t have clarity about what we want, how do we know what it is that we need to choose?
Robert A. Emmons, professor of psychology at UC Davis said that those who are grateful are not only able to reduce stress levels in their bodies by 23% but also promote their immune system and receive many other health benefits.
Gratitude is about creating the habit of consciously choosing to focus on the things that we have, rather than the things that we don’t have. When we cultivate the practice of gratitude, it slowly takes up the negative space where the gremlins thrive.
Even as someone who grew up between the two worlds knowing that I didn’t have to fit in, the part of me that wanted to be accepted wanted to fit in. Gremlins are always looking for a window of opportunity, and if we aren’t aware, they can take over the driver seat. The practices I shared above are simple, but they are transformational when we turn them into daily rituals.
“Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless – like water. Now you put water into a cup; it becomes the cup, you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle, you put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” ~Bruce Lee
Arabelle Yee is a writer, lover of life and adventurer, goes by the official titles of International Speaker, Life & Business Strategist and Clinical Psychotherapist at www.arabelleyee.com. Born Buddhist, taught in ancient indigenous wisdom, trained in modern healing modalities and naturally curious about life, Arabelle teaches, writes and speaks about all things mindset and how we can be the Conscious Creators of our future. If you want to learn more about how to stop feeling stuck with the inner gremlin and start stepping into your inner genius, I invite you to check out Be Charged.Life here.