Recognition: Negative Thoughts to Positive Beliefs

Gremlins. ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts). Cognitive Distortions. Whatever you call them, these unconscious negative self-judgements are at best unhelpful and at worst extremely unhealthy.

Handling gremlins is one of the three pillars of empowerment and goes hand-in-hand with finding clarity and being grounded.

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A gremlin is a descriptive (and uncomfortable) name for thoughts that hinder self-esteem, positive actions, and progress in life. It is an internal dialog that we want to bring out of hiding so it can no longer secretly sabotage us.

The contradiction of gremlins is that they may actually have kept us safe at some point in our lives. We told ourselves stories to keep us safe. Perhaps these thoughts kept us from trying and risking failure, or they provided confirmations for times when we did fail. They became stronger and more and more treacherous—because they became the “truth.”

Similar to a virus, gremlins become more systemic until we believe them! Do any of these statements resonate with you?

  • When you fail at something, you can feel as if you are a failure.
  • When someone else is called pretty, you become not so pretty.
  • When you don’t get the grades, you are stupid.
  • When you don’t make the team, you are a loser.
  • If someone else is called skinny, you must be fat.
  • When you don’t get the position, well of course, it confirms that you just weren’t worthy.

And on we go. We just create more powerful gremlins (stories) to protect us on a higher level. We up the protective (albeit negative) ante and continue to keep ourselves safe and out of the game of life!

What do we know for sure about negative thoughts?

  • We are unconscious of them.
  • They were created to keep us safe from harm.
  • We turned them into a truth—which makes them harder to recognize.
  • They can harm and hinder.
  • They can be changed.

That last one is the key to living the life you are entitled to.

Can you recognize a stuck pattern in yourself? Can you offer yourself compassion and give yourself space and time to choose your next chapter consciously? Self-compassion, love, and self-forgiveness will open the door to forward motion.

We will only grow, dream, and rise in life to the level that our gremlins will allow us to. What we think absolutely has that much power over us. I am convinced that turning negative thoughts into positive beliefs can take years off our journeys to success and happiness.

Understanding where the gremlins come from and how they developed can help us to defeat them. Once thoughts are questioned, new possibilities are not just conceivable; they’re inevitable.

The Wider Benefits of Personal Empowerment

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us. – Marianne Williamson

“Powerful beyond measure.”

I remember reading this quote for the first time. It gave me pause. It rocked my world, and when I grounded myself with its meaning, something in me had awakened.

Have you ever felt the truth come to you like this? In coaching, I always ask my clients if something resonates with them. “Does it feel true to you? If it does keep it, otherwise, throw it away.”

This quote hit me with a force so strong, I immediately knew what the truth felt like. So, when the crisis came, I understood something very clearly: If we are ever going to throw caution to the winds—now may be the time.

If we are all powerful beyond measure—and we are—what can our collective power do as a source for good?

When dealing with COVID and unparalleled layers of social upheaval, what can a belief in being powerful beyond measure mean? Many agree that we are experiencing a perfect storm…but even this can be an opportunity for much needed growth. Talking with a friend on the topic of the never-ending saga of 2020, I asked her, “What can we do?” She said, “Well, we don’t waste a good crisis, now do we?”

We can go through life being cautious about this, fearful of that—and all of those thoughts end abruptly when a crisis arises. We will no longer fear whether we are good enough, or think that our voice doesn’t matter, or focus on the Gremlins (negative talk) that our egos usually challenge us with.

Perhaps one of the greatest rewards of a crisis is the shedding of these superficial thoughts—and how quickly that can happen! Goodbye and good riddance superficial fears, the focus has shifted: “We are not playing around being shy and humble—we don’t have the time. We’ve got some work to do.”

We can’t sustain the distancing, illness, and death caused by COVID. We do not want violence in our streets, or for anyone to fear because of the color of their skin or their choice of worship.

Even if we feel our deepest fears of inadequacy, we can dig deep. We may find that we are powerful enough that our skills may help to light the way for others.

Becoming empowered not only gives us courage; it also helps us discover who we are and to claim our place in the world, knowing all of us matter. Yay us!