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Control of Your Thoughts

A tribute to "Taming Your Gremlin: A Surprisingly Simple Method for Getting Out of Your Own Way" written by Rick Carson

When I was 12 years old, I was sitting in my bedroom watching TV when my mom came in and handed me a book entitled Taming your Gremlin: A Surprisingly Simple Method for Getting Out of Your Own Way by Rick Carson. The cover and title of this book did not appeal to my teenage girly-girl self. Deeply offended that this was a gift from my mother, I continued watching cartoons and set the book aside. Although this was the perfect quick-read for this confusing, hormonal, and ever changing time in my life; I wouldn't crack it open until 5 years later. This was the first book I ever read that tackled the question, "Am I my thoughts?" The idea that who I am as person and my thoughts are, in fact, two separate entities was extremely relieving. Often times, my initial thoughts were negative and criticizing of myself or others which would cause me anxiety, leading to overthinking, ultimately creating an unhealthy and vicious cycle. So naturally, I relished in the idea of a monster -not me- that is responsible for these invasive thoughts. But, if there is this so-called "gremlin", then this begs another question: "If I am not my thoughts or in control of my thoughts, then who is? And if I am not my thoughts, then what exactly am I?"

"Your gremlin is not just the self-limiting message in your head. He's the force that brings them forth." - Rick Carson

Understanding Your Gremlin

As described in the book, "Our gremlin traps us into forming habits for leading life. Habits for responding to feelings and habits for responding to people." When certain feelings are conjured up, your response may be a habitual one based on a belief rooted in the past. For example, if you learned at a young age that expressing joy is immature; your habit may be to block joy. These habits are so deeply rooted into our subconscious that in order to catch it, we have to slow down the way we respond to our emotions. We create our own gremlins subconsciously through beliefs we formed as a result of our experiences.

Taming Your Gremlin

It can be very difficult to become aware of your habits because you are too close to them. It is as if you are your habits. To begin the process we want to “simply notice” the habits. Start to be more aware of your body and how it reacts to certain situations. For example, your physical response to anger may be to shorten your breathing, yell or to eat or drink. Practice not to judge or justify your responses to your feelings. Instead, we want to “simply notice” them.

Simply Notice

When we simply notice, we do not analogize, we simply bring our attention to the habits we formed. Simply notice your thoughts when an emotion arises and then let it pass through you like clouds. Do not dwell in those feelings or engage with those thoughts. In the midst of those gremlins telling you that you are “not good enough”, “not worthy”, “not liked” or “a failure”, just simply notice. Bring your attention to that gremlin and watch those whispers immediately dispel. The reason why this happens is because our subconscious doesn't want us to be aware of these gremlins. The gremlins live in the dark and will disappear as soon as you shine a light on them. Again, do not engage with the gremlin. Do not try to reason with the gremlin, you will only be providing him the audience to continue with those habits. Become the observer of your mind. Simply notice and observe. This is who you truly are; The observer.


The next step is honing your ability to choose your response instead of allowing your habits to take control. The key here is to learn to operate out of choice rather than out of habit. Practice responding to emotions from a place of peace and not habit. Strengthen your ability to respond. Rick Carson calls this "Response ability" which implies that you are 100% accountable for how you respond to your emotions and you can harness and strengthen this skill with practice. Understand that you are not your thoughts, you are not your body, you aren't even your beliefs. Beliefs are simply opinions you chose to stay loyal to.

Practice and Patience

Since most of us have been operating from habit for as long as we can remember, show yourself grace while going through the gremlin taming process. Gremlin taming is complex and I have barely scratched the surface. There are examples, prompts, and helpful tools in the book. Some of the things in the book may not resonate and that's okay. The book is loaded with examples that may or may not be relatable but please don't let that deter your from the message. Remember, taming your Gremlin is a practice, so respect and honor where you are at currently in your journey as you continue to strive for better.

For those of you who read the book, share your experience in the comments below!

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