Moving Past The Obstacles to Change – The Final Part (V) – Facing Your Biggest Critic


“It’s not what you are that holds you back, it’s what you think you’re not.”

Denis Waitley

It’s finally time to tackle the last, but certainly not the least of the four energy blocks: the Gremlin, the Inner Critic, the Itty Bitty Sh*tty Committee or whatever else you want to call it.

At iPEC the Gremlin is defined as:

Your inner critic that tells you, in one way or another, that you’re not good enough.

Your Gremlin is the voice that tells you not to try, never to take a risk, to always take the safe road and to compromise your life by always playing small. It tells you that you’re not:

  • attractive enough
  • smart enough,
  • slim enough
  • experienced enough
  • sophisticated enough
  • successful enough
  • loveable enough

It is rooted deep inside of us and has the most intense emotional charge of any of the blocks we’ve explored……and boy does it thrive on FEAR.

The good news is that: EVERYBODY HAS ONE.

Yes, everyone; it’s part and parcel of being a human being, so you my dear, are entirely normal. The real question is not whether you have it, it’s how loud and debilitating is yours?

The Gremlin is by far the sneakiest and most deeply subconscious of all the energy blocks. Each Gremlin is highly personal to its owner. It sits in our left brain and cleverly disguises itself as truth, reason and logic. It has an uncanny ability to rationalise us into trouble and derail us from our goals and opportunities. You just have to think about a time in your life when you have done something you know to be wrong but you justified it to yourself and did it anyway – that self-justification was the Gremlin’s handiwork at play! What about a time when you decided not to do something because it seemed “too good to be true”? If that thought stopped you from giving it a go, that too was very likely your Gremlin.

If you know anyone who suffers from any kind of addiction – chances are, that’s a SUPER Gremlin at work.

So let’s explore what we can do about it…….

Unlike therapy, coaching does not focus on how the problem began, or how the pattern has repeated itself growing up. We recognize, acknowledge, face and disempower the core feelings of inadequacy before reframing the Gremlin and the energy associated with it.

Each Gremlin message was created with a purpose in mind, to protect us and keep us safe. For example the “I-don’t-want-to-be-embarrassed’ Gremlin, which may have been created because of an embarrassment that you once faced. However, the appearance of this Gremlin in most current situations is simply a conditioned response that is no longer appropriate. When this happens it’s because the Gremlin is being displaced or generalized from habit, a limiting belief or a fear.

The coach helps the client to take their power back from the client’s Gremlin (as with all the other blocks) by helping the client first become aware of it, then guiding them past the Gremlin’s control by bringing it out into visibility. In a coaching relationship it can help to objectify the Gremlin by creating a physical representation of it as many times, simply recognising that it is the Gremlin talking lessens its power.  In doing this, the person discovers that the Gremlin is only a part of who they are, not their whole identity.

The Gremlin is an intrinsic part of us as human beings and as such, it can never be destroyed. The key, as always, is in becoming aware of it and consciously choosing when to heed its messages and when to say ‘thanks but no thanks’ and recycle that energy to allow you to move forwards toward the realisation of your objective.

When I did my own coaching certification with iPEC I will never forget an outstanding presentation that was done by one of my peers, Anna Obropta (who know works as a teen confidence coach), called “The Inner Critic – Taking the Microphone Back”. I would like to share her Inner Critic Discovery Exercise with you as my way of saying thank you to Anna for her bravery and candor in tackling this topic and for delivering such an earth-shatteringly powerful presentation.

So before next time:

I would highly recommend you try this exercise for yourself:

Step 1:

Document inner critic commentary for 3-5 days

Step 2:

Answer the following questions:

  • What themes are coming up in the critic’s messages?
  • What patterns do you see in the inner critic’s attacks?
  • Do these statements sound like anyone you know?
  • Where might you have heard this before?
  • What were your mother’s favourite judgments?
  • What were your father’s favourite judgments?
  • What were the worst characteristics someone could have according to your friends growing up?
  • What were some of the messages you received from teachers, carers, community leaders or other adults in your life?
  • How does this collection of messages from your past inform your inner critic’s current “script”?
  • What do your current peers judge others for?
Step 3:

Create a master list of the negative rules/laws/beliefs you were brought up with including the comments from your inner critic’s script. Conduct a personal ceremony to let go of these old laws and negative messages. Consider doing something visual and symbolic to help make it a memorable moment.

Step 4:

Write and adopt new, empowering “rules” or principles to live by that honour your true nature. Look for ways in your day-to-day life you can live out these new principles. When your inner critic launches an attack, remind him or her that you are no longer bound by the old system of beliefs.


If you’re interested to learn more or discover how you can make a difference somehow (but don’t know where to start), I’ll be guest speaking at the Dig Mondays “Conscious Career Change – Secrets to Success” workshop on Monday 7tH October at 6:30pm in London. CLICK HERE to learn more and to book your place.

About the author

Anna Margolis is our Mastering your Mind blogger. She is a revitalised former city lawyer turned freer of minds. Find out more: iPEC London, Facebook, Pinterest

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