Your brain’s ambition censor. Gremlin wants to ensure you avoid emotional challenges, failure and disappointment.
Why the habit exists
Gremlin is actually an old friend. It acts as a personal mind guard against thoughts and actions that might lead to failure, disappointment or embarrassment.
It’s always been there to protect you from unknown consequences and does a good job of it most of the time. It stops you blurting out that inappropriate comment that is only funny in your head. It casts a safety net to keep you from going too far along a path without performing a health and safety checklist. It’s got your back.
How it holds you back
Gremlin is a bit of a hypochondriac; it plans for the worst and as a precaution and prevents you from taking action by talking you out of even trying. It can escalate the potential things that can go wrong, no matter how irrational.
It makes you want to avoid any situations that might feel too daunting and out of your personal comfort zone. That means your decisions are made on the basis of how confident you feel you will be at succeeding.
If you are looking to try anything new that you feel unsure about, Gremlin will sometimes talk you out of it before you give it a shot. Even if you know you could do it, Gremlin will often find excuses. It will convince you it’s not worth the bother in order to protect you from any potential upsetting consequences
It can also be a fierce bully and will have you convinced that you cannot achieve the results you want and to perhaps not even bother. If you can’t silence Gremlin, it will wreak havoc in your mind, sucking up your confidence, stripping your courage and stealing your belief.
An Adobe study found only 1 in 4 people believe they are living up to their creative potential. That’s Gremlin in action.
How you can train it
To overcome the nervousness of Gremlin, you can consciously choose your mindset in the following ways:
From self-reserved to self-assured
Most fears aren’t real, they are just the ones you are making up for yourself to avoid the unknown consequences or embarrassment. Identify your fears and limiting beliefs and give yourself some new perspective on whether they are something that you can control or are completely irrational and you can overcome.
From defeatist to optimist
See failure as feedback. You’ll be more prepared to treat any wrong moves as a temporary set-back and a learning opportunity rather than a reason to give up altogether.
Ask yourself, ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’. Once you rationalise this, you may find it won’t be that bad after all. Maybe there’s only a small chance of dented pride rather than the drastic over exaggerations your mind has concocted. Are your fears really enough to stop you doing it?