When I was 13 or 14 years old, my mother came into my room with a book that she had purchased for me. The title of the book was “Taming Your Gremlin” by Rick Carson. I remember the book, not because I actually read it, but because of the title. I remember thinking that my mother was crazy. I did not have something in me and I certainly did not ‘get in my own way’ towards success. I was a figure skater who needed to perform day in and day out if I wanted to get to the top. I believed that I could not afford to have one day where I was ‘less than’. I believed that I could control what happened in training each day if I was stern and hard on myself (afterall my coaches were). I believed that if I was having a bad day, it meant that I wasn’t trying hard enough and I wasn’t focused. To rectify the situation I would use a ‘verbal’ whipping stick to ‘straighten myself out’. Did this really mean that I had a ‘Gremlin’ inside of me?
Thirty years later, I reflect on that time in my life as a figure skater and can say with all certainty that I should of read the book. I did have a Gremlin inside me. It was the Gremlin of perfectionism. This Gremlin is pretty tricky because sometimes she can be energizing and motivating as she whispers “Common Shar, you can finish this. You can push one extra step [when I am running a 10 km race], you can stay up one more hour to finish this presentation [when I am teaching], you can….”. But then there are the times when she is so critical and punishing. She says things to me “You aren’t good enough yet to write your blog, to work with that client, to compete in a half-ironman triathlon, to ….”.
What I have learned on my journey so far (without reading the book) is that my Gremlin will be with me for life. She is A PART of me. SHE ISN’T ME. She doesn’t need taming…she needs a positive and productive direction for all the energy that she can provide. I can only do this when I embrace and accept her. When I take a mindful and gentle approach to understanding that she is just an energy source and her whispers (or shouts) are just thoughts, I am able to feel the peace. I feel in control. I feel that I can do what matters most to me in that moment. I can play, I can be creative, I can just BE. And the best part is, she, the gremlin, is along for the ride giving me her energy.