Of dragons and gremlins

My dragons are having a field day! Who would care about this change anyways? They laugh! You are wasting your time! They scream! They try to blow fire but it’s not working anymore. I demoted them. They are gremlins now. That seems to take some of their power away from them – and they know that! It makes it easier to remind myself when I tell myself “I am not good enough” that this is just a voice in my head, something that is even more important now that I am dealing with beliefs that seem to be even more deep-seated, less easily overcome. That demotion is a mental trick to help me deal with them than a reflection of their strength. The gremlins are strong. They are powerful. They go to my core. Yet, that voice is not The Truth. It is a message that I learned living in a culture obsessed with more. A deeply shaming belief. It’s one of my gremlins, one of the things I tell myself that prevent me from living authentically in the moment. As part of my work with shame, I also took a look at my old “dragon list:”

  • I am not lovable.
  • I am worthless without a partner and/or lots of friends.
  • I am incomplete as a single person.
  • There is a soul mate out there for me. I have to design my life so that I can find him.


It changed, I noticed. The gremlins I am dealing with are (somewhat in order of frequency):

  • I am not good enough.
  • I am a failure.
  • There is something wrong with me.
  • I am not lovable.
  • I don’t have any talents.
  • I can’t do all this!

Yes, some overlap, of course, but I think these messages are seated deeper, going more to the core, than the others.

And just in case, you are thinking I’ve gone completely insane – voices in my head?!? – let me share something from Sharon Salzberg (143):

And seeing that our thoughts and emotions change so often, we no longer have to think, if I feel jealous, I must be a terrible husband and a bad person. We realize that we’re a person who has that thought, among many. When we know our thoughts, we neither dodge them nor get lost in them. Instead, we can decide when and if we should act on them; we can better discern which actions will lead to happiness and which to suffering. Meditation allows us to see and accept ourselves as we are in the moment – sometimes hot-tempered and sometimes mellow, sometimes cowardly and sometimes strong, sometimes ashamed and sometimes proud, sometimes confused and sometimes clear. It allows us to understand that the way we’re feeling right now isn’t the way we’re always going to fell, and it isn’t the whole of who we are.

So, call them thoughts, dragons, gremlins, jackals, or whatever helps you but look at them with curiosity: “What is this feeling? What’s happening?” (136). Looking at them and realizing that they are not us, they are just voices in the head, allows us to tame our gremlins – and that allows us to live more freely and authentically. And sometimes, the first step is to change what we call these thoughts…






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Of dragons and gremlins — 1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Pack of Jackals | Rachel's Musings

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