Do you know what gremlins are? Have you seen the 1984 movie? Gremlins were these evil little creatures that try to kill people. But according to Brene Brown, [shame] “gremlins are the tricksters who whisper all of those terrible things in our ears that keep us afraid and small.”
Lately my shame gremlins have been working overtime. They tell me I am not a good enough mother. I am not patient enough. I am not raising my son to be respectful and honorable. They tell me that I am not a good enough wife. I am not making my husband feel loved, pursued, respected. They are telling me I am not skinny enough. I am not fit enough. I don’t run fast enough. They are telling me I don’t make enough money. I am not trying hard enough in any area of my life.
And the worst thing about these gremlins is that they live in the dark. They like to creep up in your darkest, most stressful moments. The moments when you are most vulnerable to the lies they are telling you. But what can you do about them? How can you make them shut their filthy little mouths and stop making you feel bad about yourself? Well, I am certainly no expert, but I do have a few ideas that have been working pretty well for me.
One thing that I started doing at the beginning of the year was to keep a gratitude journal. This is just a simple, plain journal where I write down 1-3 things that I was grateful for each day. Sometimes I forget until the next morning, but I try to be consistent and write in it every day. This really helps to remind you of all the things that are positive in your life, even when life gets messy. I can remember one day, all I could write was “I am grateful to be alive.” It was a dark day, but it was something. For a FREE printable gratitude sheet, and a list of gratitude prompts, CLICK HERE.
I also use a meditation app, called Headspace. This app gives you 10 free ten minute meditations, and the option to purchase a regular membership ($12.99/month, and totally worth it) which unlocks tons of other guided meditations, including those which help with specific things like anxiety in a stressful situation, patience in a relationship, fear of flying, and even kids meditations. If you have the free trial membership, they occasionally will give you access to some of these other meditations too. Meditation helps because it slows down your brain and helps you to focus on the here and now.
Yoga is another great option for helping to slow your brain down. My personal favorite is Yoga Retreat on Beachbody On Demand, but if you don’t have access to that, there are tons of free guided yoga workouts on YouTube. Yoga is also good because it gets your body moving and healthier, which in turn keeps your mind healthier too. Eating clean, whole foods helps too.
Another really good practice that a lot of people use is grounding exercises. This is actually something I’ve never used, just because I can never remember them! These are actually supposed to be super effective during panic attacks though, so I made this free printable for myself and my hubby, but thought you might want it too! My panic attacks are usually triggered by intense feelings of “not enough”, especially when money is involved. Hubby’s are triggered by new places, airplanes, large crowds (especially with kid in tow), and since we are FLYING to Dallas next weekend (where he’s never been), I am hoping these will help him cope. I hope they help you too.
Probably the most effective way that I have been managing the gremlins though, is by seeing a therapist. I know by saying that, I’ve already lost some of you. And that’s unfortunate. But, I firmly believe that there is nothing wrong with seeing a therapist, especially if you’ve ever gone through something difficult in your life (who hasn’t?). In just 6 months, I have gone from having such severe anxiety that I was crying in the bathroom at work on a weekly basis, literally kicking a hole in my door during a panic attack, and having my therapist fear that I wouldn’t be able to respond to therapy without medication, to becoming a completely different person, having hope in the future, forgiving myself, my dad, and God, for the tragedies and struggles of my past (and present). Don’t get me wrong, I definitely still have my bad days, but I have come so incredibly far in just 6 months. I wish everyone was lucky enough to have a therapist who could help them through their pain and struggles. *Side note: the first therapist you choose, no matter how much you research, may not be the right match for you. My current therapist is the third one that I have seen in just over a year. The first one was decent, but just not the right fit. The second was a terrible match for me, and made me feel even more ashamed of myself. But my current therapist, is just perfect for me. She knows exactly how to communicate with me, and tells me often how fascinating my mind is to her. I guess I’ve always known that I was different, but it is very reassuring to hear someone tell you that your uniqueness is something that they actually appreciate and enjoy about you.
If you are going through dark days, and have gremlins whispering nasty lies in your ears, have faith. There is hope for you yet. You may not see it now, but things CAN get better, if you will just take that first step. It might be starting a gratitude journal, or taking a yoga class, or taking up medication. Or it could be reaching out to a friend for help, or calling a therapist to make an appointment. Whatever step you take, just do something to help yourself, and know that you are not alone.
Do you struggle with the gremlins too? What do they say to you? What do you do to keep them at bay? Please share below in the comments.
If you need immediate help, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “TWLOHA” to 741741, or calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You can also get more help at TWLOHA.