I have an unusual way to describe the emotions I feel. When they are good, I call these emotions Sprites. When they are not good, I call those emotions Gremlins. Let me explain.
In the undulations of the brain where Sprites live, happiness and sunlight pervades everything. Love abounds. Endorphins float freely, making every cell in your head delightfully dance with joy. Puffy clouds float in the sky. Vivid, sweet-smelling flowers grow wildly. In the midst of this wonderful scene stands a Sprite – that mythical creature with wings (think Tinkerbell) who files around spreading fairy dust and singing songs that are relaxing and calming. Goodness and truth flow from the Sprite. Where she alights, all is right with the world.
OK. Clearly, this image is over the top, but I suspect you get my meaning. Sprites represent positive emotions. Gremlins, on the other hand, are at the other end of the spectrum.
Some of you may recall the movie Gremlins that dates back to the 1980’s. In that movie, when exposed to water, the cute Gremlin would replicate at an alarming rate. Unfortunately, all of the replicas had unkind and unhelpful personalities. Destruction and havoc followed wherever the replica Gremlins went. In my assessment, Gremlins are an apt comparison for our negative emotions. When feelings like doubt and fear creep into our consciousness or subconsciousness, those emotions spread like wildfire. Complicating things further, these insidious emotions are infectious, bringing darkness and uncertainty in their wake. It becomes difficult to act. Frozen by the idea that nothing is possible, it is easy to slide into depression and self-doubt.
Living in fairyland with the Sprites is a wonderful, utopian idea. However, things happen in life that bring the Gremlins to our doors. Sometimes, we let them in. Sometimes, they push their way in. Everyone has experienced this. Gremlins get in. What we must learn is how to manage our Gremlins.
I have allowed the Gremlins to pervade my mind and my soul way too many times. When my sister put me in the middle of her chaos, when she represented that I acted in a way I had not, I was truly devastated. Gremlins sprinted their way into every corner of my brain. Doubt and despair descended like a heavy blanket. Questions swirled in my head for which I had no answers. Why had she done this? Why did she turn her back on me? Weren’t we best friends? Why am I being accused of something I did not do? For quite a while, I could not crawl out from under these emotions. Sad to my core, I looked like I had an anchor mounted on my back. Eventually, I pulled inward and began studying the situation. I realized I had not created this. Unfairly, it was visited upon me. Nonetheless, I had to push back. Through my pain and despite my fears, I had to protect myself and my family. Yes, this hurt, but it had to be done. Every day, I pulled from my internal traits to remind myself that I would get past this. By so doing, I pushed the Gremlins back and allowed the Sprites to return.
Sometimes, I’ve given the Gremlins permission to enter when I’ve acted improperly. An unkind word, a snippy remark, a selfish action - - all of these release my Gremlins. Acknowledging that I was wrong, knowing that an apology was warranted, I took the first step towards eclipsing the power of the Gremlins. Taking the time to earnestly apologize and working to repair the wound I caused pushed the Gremlins further back.
If you find yourself drowning in Gremlins, start simply and remember of what you are made. Your internal traits, your beauty, your strength, your resilience can never be taken from you. From within your core, draw from these traits and assess what circumstance allowed the Gremlins to dance freely. Did someone else release the Gremlins, or did you? This one question will start you on the path away from the Gremlins and into the land of the Sprites.
Fairy dust may be mythical, but it is still magical. Exorcise the Gremlins with a little Spritely magic.
I gave birth to a Tonka Truck. Born at 9 lbs. 8 oz., he qualified as a turkey from birth. During his toddler years, he led with his head, a tendency that caused him to earn quite a few bruises and the loss of his two front teeth. As he’s grown, he’s gained stability, speed and a love for the rough-and-tumble. Although DNA is undoubtedly responsible for his love for sports, particularly running, nurture also had a hand here. My husband played all the major sports. Passing his knowledge on to our son is a natural segue.
Quite often, the boys will play a game called “Tiger and Bear” on the bed. It is, as you likely surmised, a wrestling game. I choose to stay out of the room during this game because the wrestling tactics they each use make me cringe. All too often, I’ve heard a “thwack” and an “oof” coming from the bedroom. I don’t go in because those noises are often followed by peels of laugher from both of them. Beyond the laughter and assorted noises, I often hear the following from my husband: “You are stuck.” When this situation arises, my husband will coach our son, specifically telling him how he can get himself out of the hold that has him trapped.
Sometimes, we use the phrase “I am stuck” to describe how we feel about a situation, or a job or a relationship. Although no physical impediment exists to our ability to move, something else prohibits our freedom of movement. Essentially, we construct a mental block that precludes action.
Some of you may read this and say in response, “But I really am stuck. I can’t…[you fill in the blank].
If you find yourself in this situation, if you find yourself saying “I can’t,” or “That isn’t possible because…”, take a few steps back, figuratively, and look carefully at the scenario in which you feel stuck. Are you really stuck, or are you choosing to say you are stuck because you do not like the alternatives? Yes, I mean those difficult options that require work. If you’ve found yourself saying these words, then review your options. Don’t trade your happiness, don’t trade your mental health, and never give up on yourself.
Every situation has a solution. Being stuck is a choice. Taking the steps to change that thought process, to change your position, to change how you feel, is tough and rewarding.
Next time you hear yourself say “I feel stuck,” take a breath, refocus, reevaluate your situation and consider how you can address the challenge before you.
You can, and when you are ready, you will.