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The Gremlins of Our Lives

Everyone suffers from gremlins. You. Me. Your parents. Your friends. Your partner(s). Even your children. Everyone.


So, what are gremlins? I refer to these things as the little shits that just want to cause chaos or make our lives harder.


Some examples of external gremlins:

  • A horrible boss

  • An abusive partner

  • An abusive parent

  • Unexpected financial struggles

  • Unexpected death of a loved one

  • Past Trauma

Some examples of internal gremlins:

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Grief

  • Self-doubt

  • Guilt

  • Shame


As you can tell a lot of those things overlap. Some of the external factors may even contribute to internal struggles. That is OK and even expected.


No matter where your gremlin came from, they all have some things in common. Gremlins thrive in darkness, solitude and silence. They absolutely love when people try to ‘bury’ them and pretend that they aren’t there. Burying a gremlin does not kill it. It only makes it where the gremlin can reach its tendrils over to different parts of our lives and stir up more shit unnoticed. The more they are buried, the more damage they can do. How do people try to bury their gremlin? Here are some examples.


  • Denial: refusing to admit facts, emotions, or situations that might be contributing to their gremlin.

  • Rationalization: Justifying a behavior or problem with a logical explanation

  • Avoidance: Turning to something else so that the mind doesn’t think about the problem.

  • Examples: Work, alcohol, working out, drugs, sex, art

  • Projection: person A saying or believing person B is doing the things person A does not like about themselves.


You may notice that these sound like some of Freud’s defense mechanisms. They are. Defense mechanisms are ways to keep us safe. Unfortunately, they also act to keep our gremlins safe.


Gremlins also love when people start isolating from support. The more you isolate from support, the more you have to struggle with your gremlin on your own. It is hard enough sometimes to fight against a gremlin with help. It can feel impossible to fight against a gremlin on your own.


Finally, gremlins love when people are silent about the gremlin. This ties into the isolating. The gremlin knows that if a person starts talking about it, the person might find new ways to battle the gremlin. This could come in the form of finding new support. It could also open up a conversation where others talk about what worked for them with a similar gremlin. Talking about the gremlin could also allow the one struggling with it to start to realize that the gremlin isn’t the final mega hard boss of the life. It is just another problem in life that can be overcome.


So, how to overcome your gremlin? I will touch on that topic with the next post.

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