How to Turn Your Chronic Illness 'Gremlins' Into Your Furry Cheerleaders
We all have that little gremlin inside us.
You know the one — she shouts up, “What makes you so special?” when you dream about something more. She’s the cute smiling assassin who sabotages your plans while saying, “Well, you wouldn’t have been any good at it anyway. I’m saving you the heartache.”
Your gremlins are your fears, they are the limiting beliefs you hold about yourself, and you will notice that they stick their head up right when interesting stuff starts to happen. You see, gremlins don’t like change. They don’t like the unknown and they definitely don’t like you stepping outside your comfort zone… and that is when you will hear them shout the loudest.
Chronic illness is the worst for creating gremlins because let’s face it, when you get ill it’s like your world implodes. People aren’t who you thought they were. You aren’t the person you thought you were. Your subconscious mind creates brand new stories about yourself as a way to cope with what has been thrown at you and how much your life just changed.
For me when I was feeling lonely and wanted to reach out, that gremlin shouted up, “You don’t need anyone. They will only hurt you, Keep yourself safe.” The fear kicked in. I told myself it was true. When I was struggling to snap out of negative over-eating for comfort, my gremlin would whisper, “Why should you care how you look? Who’s going to love you with all this baggage,” and I took my thoughts as truth. You know that saying that if people tell you something enough times then you start to believe it? Well think how powerful that is when the person telling you that thing over and over again is your own mind!
There is a silver lining though. First, if it’s true that you can trick your mind into believing all that negative rubbish, then you can also trick your mind to believe a bunch of amazingly positive stuff about yourself too, right? You can turn the gremlin bullies into a furry army of ferociously positive cheerleaders.
The first step to taming your gremlins is to realize that they are there — because sometimes we aren’t aware this self-talk is even happening. Often our first suspicion that something negative is going on in our heads is when we start to feel the negative impact of those thoughts: fear, shame, anxiety and the like… They are the red flags you should be looking out for. Because when they go up, a thought in your head has probably put it there.
I caught myself one day leaving the house feeling great, and by the end of the road I felt nauseous from worry. I was suddenly aware of this huge swirling mess of things I was worrying about: “What if this happens?” “I forgot to make that call…” “I don’t think that girl at work likes me.” “I’m going to be late. I’m always late.” “Wy can’t I be more organized?” “People like me are never successful.” Whoa! It was like I had walked through that wardrobe to Narnia and instead of finding magical creatures I found a nasty little tribe of back-stabbing, gossiping furry monsters that had control of my subconscious thoughts!
So how do you deal with the gremlins once you know they are there? You call them out and see them for what they are, bring them out of the shadows and face your fears. Maybe you don’t believe you deserve money. Maybe you don’t believe you are worthy of love. Maybe you don’t believe you are smart enough, or beautiful enough or brave enough. All those beliefs are there because you put them there. The gremlins told you it was true, and you believed them. But you can create a new story about you. A story that says: I am strong, I am deserving and capable of love, I am brave, I am smart, I am unique, I have something amazing to share with the world.
I believe all that about you, but you have to believe that about yourself. You deserve to believe those things about yourself, my warrior friend.
Not sure where to start? I’m hosting a fun and free “Tame Your Self-Talk Gremlins” five-day email challenge starting Monday December 5 to give chronic illness warriors and warriors in recovery the support they need to tackle those pesky gremlins. Sign up here to get the emails. P.S. Don’t worry if you’re late to the party. It’s running all week and you’ll get a link to all the previous emails when you join so you can still catch up.
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