Today’s guest blogger is our favorite life coach Barbara Waxman, who tackles the subject of something we all can relate to… that tough inner critic.
Imagine this: you’ve gone on a date that went pretty well. You met for coffee, which morphed into a walk, and ended with what really felt like an unspoken mutual agreement to see one another again. But he hasn’t called. And it’s been a week. Maybe even two.
What would you say to yourself?
1. I may as well quit this dating game.
2. He is probably busy and although we had a great connection, this is not his first priority.
3. What is wrong with me? My friends seem to meet people but I am hopeless.
If you answered 1 or 3, your inner critic, or Gremlin as I like to call it, is in control of your emotions. This little guy symbolically sits on your shoulders, whispering self-limiting messages to you all day long. He holds you back from stepping into things that are risky and might leave you feeling vulnerable, hurt or defeated (and on the flip side, stronger, happier and wildly successful).
Every single one of us has a Gremlin or two. Ironically, he is also a protective shield and can serve a positive purpose. Your Gremlin keeps you from making risky emotional or practical choices; he helps you slow down and consider just how you are operating in the world. If not for the Gremlin, you would never get beyond acting as you might have when you were a teenager — jumping first — and looking at the risks later. So while the Gremlin can be good for you; he also keeps you within your comfort zone. The problem starts when you allow this voice to stop you from doing things you actually want to do, like giving someone you recently met a second or even third chance.
My client Emily’s Gremlin was in full force. So much so that she didn’t even recognize it. She went on more than a few dates where there seemed to be a real connection and discussion about getting together again. In fact, in a number of cases, her date even contacted her about setting something up. But soon, she told me, each situation seemed to fizzle out and she just could not understand why.
During a coaching conversation, we uncovered an important message her Gremlin had been telling her: “If he doesn’t make sure to have another date with you in a week, then he isn’t really interested.” In one case, Emily’s date tried once to make a date and then, when it wasn’t easy to schedule, he seemed to disappear for a few weeks. Her Gremlin told her that he was either rude or so disorganized that she wouldn’t want to date someone like that anyway. By the time he did call, Emily was obviously irritated on the phone and he shifted from initially saying he called to try scheduling something again, to making an excuse and getting off the phone.
Upon reflection, Emily agreed that she didn’t know him well enough to make that decision; what her Gremlin did was keep her safe from potential rejection, but also kept her from getting to know someone she really felt she’d like to see again.
This type of expectation and disappointment happened with a number of the dates Emily went on. The men she dated didn’t continue to follow up in the way that she wanted. She wanted them to continue to focus on their planning — and even to work around her plans. This is what would make Emily comfortable and quiet her personal Gremlin.
I asked Emily to withhold judgment and get to know her date(s) better. She learned that the men she seems to be interested in were those with busy lives who didn’t prioritize the second date the same way she would. By confronting and taming her Gremlin, Emily has taken what felt like a risk to her, and has had a number of 2nd and 3rd dates (too early to say what is next as it hasn’t been that long).
How has your Gremlin been holding you back? By identifying the self-limiting messages you hear, you can redirect your actions and thoughts towards the end result you’d like to see more consciously.
Learn more about Executive and Life Coach Barbara Waxman, who will be hosting a Spa Day for the Soul retreat at the Tiburon Lodge in CA on September 21. Learn more! Like her on Facebook for recurring words of wisdom.