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You're thinking about taking a leap, and in your gut you know it's time.  Maybe you're about to interview for a new job, or start a moms' group, or send off some writing to an editor.  You did your soul-searching homework, feel good about the choice, put the pieces in place.  All that's left now is to leap.  So what are you waiting for?  What's going on inside your head? Hmm, I can hear it: there's a yelling match happening between your wise, grounded self and that annoying little Gremlin.

It sounds something like this: "You've GOT to be kidding.  You can't do that!" or "Oh My God remember what happened last time!" or "Who would want to read that?" or "What about the children?" or "You're so selfish" or "You're too fat/tall/dumb/inexperienced/shy" or simply "You can't".  The Gremlin voice is screechy and high-pitched.  Your replies start out forceful and assured, then grow more and more faint.  Against your better judgment, you allow the  Gremlin's accusations to erode your confidence, and you find yourself saying, "I'll do it tomorrow...”

You're probably familiar with the Gremlin already...it shows up when you want to try something new or do something brave.  The Gremlin (name given by Rick Carlson in Taming Your Gremlin) is also known as The Inner Critic, The Saboteur, The Committee or The Judge.  It's sneaky, pushy and relentless.  It's the little voice that can stop you in your tracks, if you let it.  We all have.

The good news is, they only show up when we're about to challenge ourselves to do something big, something that comes from a deep place of "yes, I really want this".  So in a way, seeing them is almost like a guidepost on your journey to what you want most.  It's your gut, your intuition, that's asking for reassurance at these times; sort of like a proving ground.  You can see it as an opportunity to really take a stand for yourself and strengthen your intuition muscle.  How?  By staring down the Gremlin.

My coaching clients often ask for tools to help deal with self-doubt and inner critic activity.  We set up a plan of action for what to do when they show up in their lives.  Here's the general outline:

1.  Hear the voice and recognize it as a Gremlin.  You may want to give your Gremlin(s) names, like The Pleaser or Mean Aunt Marge or SuperMom.  You may even want to get a physical representation of the Gremlin; in my Coaching Program, we used little finger puppets.  Notice what characteristics Mean Aunt Marge has, what really sets her off.  There probably WAS a mean Aunt in your life at one point, someone who helped you learn how to doubt yourself, so you've got a pretty good sense of who she is as a Gremlin.  The important thing to remember here is that the voice is not yours, and the Gremlin is not you.  Say hello to it.  "Hello, SuperMom.  I see you're here again".  This reminds you that it's separate from you, and it diminishes its power.

2.  Acknowledge the Gremlin's contribution. Your Gremlin often delivers messages that are not necessarily meant to be cruel – they're simply outdated messages that at one time were meant to keep you safe.  Maybe back then you weren't ready to write that book or cross that street, and there was legitimacy in holding yourself back.  But now you are ready and the voice is not welcome.

3.  Discipline your Gremlin the way you would a child.  Thank your Gremlin for her opinion, and tell her you won't be needing her assistance on this one.  Time for a Gremlin Time-Out.  Since you have recognized and acknowledged her first, you aren't simply pushing her away; you're dealing with her.

4.  Recognize the mean nasty Gremlins, and be forceful with them.  Sometimes our Gremlins are plain old harmful, and they need to be told to sit down and shut up.  These voices are the unending, piercing ones that use loudness and repetition to catch our attention, because they have nothing else.  These Gremlins are not the ones we give Time-Outs; these Gremlins get sent to the back of the bus.  They don't serve a useful purpose.  Use that Mom voice you keep for the really truly awful parenting challenges to expose and banish them.

5.  Get quiet and listen to your deeper voice, the one that speaks your truth.   With the Gremlin voice quieted, appreciate the wisdom and the commitment you welcome forth.  Rest with the admission that you really want what you want, and that you can handle whatever it brings.  Use that to help you plan your actions.

What about you? What personality does your most familiar Gremlin have? What experiences have you had with the shouting match between the two voices?  What will you do the next time your inner critic shows up to derail you from your intentions?

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