"I change not by trying to be something other than I am. I change by being fully aware of how I am."
Rick Carson, Taming your Gremlin
Have you tamed your gremlin yet? Have you discovered him, lurking somewhere in the back of your mind? There's no denying that the descriptions of other people's gremlins, appearing in the early pages of this book, are instantly recognisable and certainly despicable. Taming Your Gremlin is easy to read, well laid out and liberally illustrated with line drawings. It is like a present - something you can open and play with immediately. It's not a puzzle to be worked out or an invitation to start engaging the intellect. The focus is on the reader in a completely accepting and undemanding way. So if you're in a belligerent, argumentative or combative mood, you'd better put it down and wait for a day when you just want something easy to read. If you're in the right frame of mind, there's a lot of great stuff in here. There's a flavour of Buddhism, but none of the demands. Unlike meditation, there's absolutely no danger that you won't be able to do it.
It's nonsense to talk of gremlins. The author knows this. He knows you know it too. But it isn't always easy, possible or even desirable to present plain facts. In science lessons at school, for example, you might have been shown an illustration of an atom. There are protons and electrons revolving in an orderly manner around a central nucleus. It's not possible to depict how atoms really are on a piece of paper or even as a moving image on a screen. You can look up images of atoms viewed through an electron microscope, but you might be disappointed because without the necessary scientific background you can't interpret what you see. We all accept this. We can't start at quantum physics level, we start by accepting a description, something we can understand.
"Your gremlin is the narrator in your head. He has influenced you since you came into this world, and he accompanies you throughout your entire existence. He's with you when you wake up in the morning and when you go to sleep at night. He tells you who and how you are, and he defines and interprets your every experience. He wants you to accept his interpretations as a reality, and his goal, from moment to moment, day to day, is to squelch the natural, vibrant you within."
The author asks the reader to just accept that your mind contains the natural you (the observer) and another being that he calls 'your gremlin'. 'You' are virtuous and your gremlin is a 'vile, vicious, villainous bully'. Of course that's not true. It doesn't matter, this isn't an anatomy and physiology book. Try not to worry about the homunculus fallacy. Just accept there's a great deal of story telling here. The aim (and this is the joy and the strength of this book) is that the approach exposes some of the regular chatter that goes on in the mind and enables the reader to make sense of it. After the invitation to simply notice the activity of your gremlin you are invited to choose change (if you want to change) and to learn to play with your inner demon. Straining and grappling are not encouraged.
Taming Your Gremlin was first published in 1983 and revised in 2003. It is a little dated now, but it was an innovative book. Innovators inspire others. A more modern offering, likely to appeal to those with more interest in things medical, is the very successful The Chimp Paradox (2012) by Dr Steve Peters. Dr Peters also divides the mind into two, to become the Human and it's Chimp. That's on another planet, too. And it's gone into orbit.
Taming Your Gremlin has a stated intention; to help readers enjoy themselves more each day. It is simple, gentle and practical, which is its genius and its heart. It is more than a book, it is a method - something you can use in a regular and systematic way in order to accomplish something new. It might work in a fun and imaginative way, but it has depth and is thoughtful in all the right places. Worth a look.
About the Author
Rick Carson, the author of the successful Taming you Gremlin has over 35 years' experience as a personal and executive coach, a counsellor and a trainer for mental health professionals, non-profit organisations and businesses. To add to his incredible CV, he is the founder of the Gremlin-Taming Institute and his highly successful work has been used to train substance abuse specialists, psychotherapists, teachers, coaches, and many, many more.
Since 1984, Taming your Gremlin has been traslated in several different languages and been a consistent seller since its release. The book has served a basis for his latest release called A Master Class in Gremlin-Taming: The Absolutely Indispensable Next Step for Freeing Yourself from the Monster in the Mind. For more information on Rick and the Gremlin-Taming Institute, click here.