I’m about to present in front of an audience of 800 people and I suddenly feel super unprepared. My hands start trembling and my heart begins the pounding in the ears thing it does when I’m starting to freak out. Then I hear it.
The Inner Critic
“See, you messed up again. You thought you were ready and you’re not. Now you’re going to look stupid and no one will take you seriously.” I close my eyes and take a deep breath to ground myself. “Hey Wanda,” I say to myself in my head. “Lovely of you to show up but I got this. It’s gonna be ok, I did prepare enough, I’m just nervous. I will do my best and it will be what it will be. WE’RE GOING TO BE OK.”
Let me introduce you to my gremlin, Wanda. The gremlin is the voice that starts rattling off in your head when you’re afraid, vulnerable, uncertain, or experiencing any low vibrational feelings. It’s the voice that reminds you that you’re not good enough when you don’t get the job or promotion you’ve been hoping for. It’s the voice that tells you you’re not pretty enough, successful enough, or popular enough. The gremlin literally thrives off of your “Not Enoughness”. My gremlin’s message was you’re not smart enough.
Luckily I had great coaches over the years who helped me see how many ways I used my intelligence and creativity to excel. They helped me to see the truth. The gremlin was wrong. I was smart enough. I may have learned differently than others but I didn’t lack intelligence. I also learned that the gremlin wasn’t going away. The voice was a part of me and in a misguided attempt to protect me, made a full time position out of stopping me from ever feeling vulnerable, embarrassed or scared again. And it got really good at it. It helped me avoid anything that might possibly reveal that I wasn’t enough. It also sufficiently robbed me of many moments I could have grown and learned from if it weren’t for the fear of failing.
The great Oh Sh!t moment for me was when I understood that the gremlin was as afraid as I was. It wasn’t some sinister, mischievous demon trying to undermine me. It was me, maybe even a younger version of me that years of fear and uncertainty had changed into a rude ass gremlin.
I basically had to make friends with the gremlin. I had to hold her close even as she freaked out, especially when she freaked out. I had to remind myself that this was just a fragmented, hurt part of me. How would I want my fears calmed?
I now accept that it is MY job to redirect my little doomsayer and reassure her that we actually are going to be ok. I’ve learned what my fear triggers are and how to sense my insecurities and low energy feelings coming on from the onset. I move from a place of empathy, allowing myself the space to admit my fearl I remind myself of what’s real – I am strong, I am smart and I am enough, just as I am and just as I’m not.
Of all the things I coach clients on this is the one I believe is the most important to start with, this is the base of the foundation to building their confidence. Facing that voice is one of the toughest energy blocks to overcome but it’s the one that can do the most damage if left unchecked. Learning to manage the voice, to get into relationship with it, is how we learn to live with it. We can’t numb it away or run from it. We’ve got to take a deep breath and get down on a metaphoric knee and ask it what it needs in order to feel seen and heard. We work with that gremlin accepting that it will feel like we’re taking two steps forward and three steps back on some days. We work with the gremlin because this is part of our mental, spiritual and emotional hygiene and that responsibility begins and ends with us.
There are many amazing books out there about the inner critic/gremlin voice but two of my favorites are You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero and The Gift of Imperfections by Brené Brown. While they don’t specifically speak to the gremlin they each speak to the fear and shame that generally accompany the gremlin. Gremlin work is something I love helping my clients with and it is a part of all of my private Electric Life session work as well as my Electric Feminine Leadership course. If you’re interested in diving in more to this work and finally learning to manage your gremlin please go the www.anjuamaximo.com for my courses and upcoming workshops.