The fastest way to QUIET THE GREMLIN in your head is by acknowledging it!
The other night, I was having a hard time falling asleep because the song “Everybody Have Fun Tonight,” by the mid-80s powerhouse group Wang Chung, continuously played in my mind. You haven’t lived until you’ve danced to the lyrics, “Everybody Wang Chung tonight.” I kept waking up my husband, because as soon as I would settle down and get quiet, there came that goofy tune, tiptoeing back into my head. Finally, I decided to fight fire with fire and successfully headed off the British New Wave duo by whisper-singing my personal rendition of a song I actually like from another 80s supergroup, “Heat of the Moment,” by Asia.
- Play another melody on an instrument.
- Switch to an activity that keeps you busy, such as working out.
- Listen to the song all the way through.
- Turn on other music to get your brain tuned in to a different song.
- Share the song with a friend (but make the caveat before you do that it’s not your fault if the earworm jumps from your brain to theirs).
- Picture the earworm as a real creature crawling out of your head, and imagine stomping on it.
All of this got me to thinking about the other kinds of things that get stuck in our heads – specifically the doubts and negative self-talk we can habitually repeat, particularly when we’re feeling unsuccessful, less than skillful, or otherwise dejected regarding our book projects. The thing is, we’ve all been there. No matter how much positive reinforcement we give ourselves or how many affirmations we recite, sometimes we let the gremlin run amok.
My coach, Karen Gridley, gave me a great solution for the incessant grumblings of our gremlins. First, she suggested that we recognize that the gremlin’s main job is to protect us. When we’re trying to grow, develop our skills, and push our personal boundaries, the gremlin gets freaked out and just wants everything to stay the same. So it starts jabbering to us in ways our conscious brain can understand and will buy into: “You’re silly for even trying.” “Who do you think you are to write a book?” “There are a lot better writers than you out there.” “You don’t know the first thing about marketing.” “What do you mean you want your little book to be a best-seller?” I’m pretty sure you can fill in the blank for the things your gremlin says to you.
Second, we need to understand that the gremlin is just going to keep on jabbering until we acknowledge it. I work from home, so my coach recommended I actually do this out loud. So the other day, when a particular doubt began to nag at me while I was washing my lunch dishes, I heeded Karen’s advice and talked back to the gremlin. I told it:
OK. I hear you – and I want to thank you for your input. I know you’re just trying to protect me and keep me safe, but here’s the thing. Right now, I’m OK with the progress I’m making, so while I hear what you’re saying, I’m choosing to go in a different direction today. You can either get on board with me, or you can go back to bed. Your choice.
Seriously – I said something to that effect out loud to myself in my kitchen with only the dogs to hear me.
And you know what? The gremlin left me alone after that. No more repeated refrain of the nagging doubt. Just quiet, peace, and the ability to refocus on the mantra I always pull out as soon as I remember to use it: “Everything is perfect exactly the way it is.”
Self-doubt is a real thing. And the longer you’ve been conditioned to listen to the negative self-talk, the more likely you are to buy in and believe it. But it is possible to overcome it. Write some affirmations. Create a vision board. Get a coach or an accountability partner. Just know that you are worthy and that your book contains a valuable message that needs to be shared. If you get stuck, call me up or send me an e-mail. I’m happy to listen and give you a support inoculation!
Happy gremlin busting!
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