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Book Summary: “Taming Your Gremlin” by Rick Carson

The author’s subtitle to his book is "A Surprising Simple Method for Getting Out of Your Own Way" and his stated goal is to help you enjoy yourself more each day. The premise is that we all have a "vile, vicious, villainous, insufferably bully lurking in the shadows of your very own mind: your gremlin." And, depending on your level of self-awareness, you likely already have some sense of your gremlin, which has influenced you since your birth.

Your gremlin is the source of your negative thoughts and he (or she or it) uses some of your past experiences to influence your attitude and behavior. Your gremlin can appear to be your best friend and advisor or your most ill-intentioned enemy. Although your gremlin wants you to believe that he has your best interest at heart, his motive is much less honorable: he is intent on making you miserable.

So what to do? The author lays out a Gremlin-Taming Method, which he purports to be a simple and enjoyable process, but which also takes practice and persistence. Carson’s approach to taming your gremlin centers, first, around simply noticing that she exists. You must pay attention, heightening your awareness to the existence of your gremlin. Can you describe her? Name her? Draw a picture of her? Simply noticing your gremlin will help you to observe not just what is going on around you, but your own thoughts, emotions, and memories in the moment they are occurring. Then you can begin to observe her and notice her influence on you. Doing this will allow you to better understand your habits for responding to emotions, people and circumstances.

Once you have a heightened awareness of your habits, you are ready for the second step in the process: choosing and playing with options. Some of these options for taming your gremlin include:

1) Breathe and fully experience your emotions – don’t shy away from how you feel. Acknowledge your emotions and face them directly.

2) Change for a change – alter how you behave and respond in certain situations to see what different (better?) result you get. Break out of your comfort zone and try something new.

3) Just imagine it – use creative visualization, balanced with constructive thought, some hard work, and some good choices, to imagine what you want. [Side note: I am not a believer that just because you imagine something, you can have it, and neither is this author.]

The final step towards taming your gremlin is being in process. This means that there is no finish-line when it comes to gremlin-taming. Carson writes that "Being in process is an attitude – an appreciation of the simple truth and the reality that your life will be forever unfolding and your future always unknown." Seeing yourself as in process will help you increase your contentment, your appreciation of life, and your ability to sustain your gremlin-taming over the years. Providing many tips and exercises, the author assists you through each step in the Gremlin-Taming Method.

Gremlins have created very personalized and fear-inducing threats to taunt us. They tell us, for example, that if you risk change, you will: lose friends, fail, be wrong, be poor, be rejected, be embarrassed, and many more. However, if you don’t face your gremlin, it will maintain its grip and control over you, making it difficult to make necessary changes, thereby limiting your potential to attain or achieve what you desire. So tame your gremlin, and increase your satisfaction and fulfillment.