What Are Your Inner Gremlins? Do You Know Your Inner Gremlins?

You’ve probably already guessed: We’re not talking about real mischievous gremlins here. Instead, our definition of a gremlin is more of a what than a who.

A gremlin, in coaching terms is a habit that stops people from achieving their goals in business or life. A gremlin is an internal habit or a feeling that seems to run on its own accord-something that rises up and then stops you from taking action on, or completing, a particular phase of a project.

However, gremlin-thinking doesn’t have to win out. When you confront a gremlin and question its validity, you gain the wisdom and learn the lessons needed to bypass it. To start, try asking yourself gremlin-busting questions, like: Where in my life do I suffer from self-sabotaging mechanisms? How will my life change as I learn to let go of these gremlins? Self-sabotaging behavior is one example of a gremlin. Let’s look in details at what the four key gremlins are.

Fear of dreaming

Some people are afraid to even consider their dreams, such as: starting a business or meeting a great partner, training for a marathon. Maybe they don’t believe they have the talent, intelligence or self-worth for these desires to manifest. Often times, past disappointments have been internalized to the point where they become procrastination habits. The result: being afraid to even consider what is possible. People with this gremlin experience their life from this place of loss of choice as if this were their destiny.

People stuck at this stage need loving support to discover their true vision. Working with a supportive coach can clear up the negative activity and inner conclusions around this old fear system. People are often surprised at how quickly they can tune into their dreams and learn to make them real when they shift their focus and begin to see what is possible for them.

Fear of failure

Some people get easily inspired by their dreams and take immediate action. Yet, they have difficulty executing what they start. People with this gremlin can literally be a victim of their own minds by sabotaging themselves with their thoughts and beliefs about their lack of resources, capabilities, and skill requirements.

The fear-of-failure folks need to build the inner conviction that they are capable of making their dream come true. When these people explore their inner values and capabilities, they build clarity around positive imaging and results thinking. They benefit from establishing a micro-visionary practice while seeing what they are building with detailed step-by-step organization. Seeing themselves moving towards a big sales goal through achieving weekly targets begins to build their inner map of success.

Fear of upsetting people

This gremlin develops when people fear the dissatisfaction or rejection of others as they move toward success. People sabotage themselves with these thoughts and beliefs, blaming external conditions for whatever appears to be stopping them. Thoughts such as I can’t do this because of my flawed culture, flawed government, flawed organization, flawed family, flawed relationship grab a person’s attention and result in cynical observation or wait-and-see mode.

To move past this gremlin, these people need to focus on, reach for, and explore what they can control. And we can always control our higher values and whatever we consider meaningful in our lives. Focusing on these deeper values allows for renewed forward movement. Consequently, People who have been stuck with this gremlin will eventually move beyond the pack and the limited system consciousness they’ve settled into by connecting to their authentic, personal values.

Fear of conflict

This is the gremlin that often stops completion of a project. One way this gremlin appears as a fear of expressing authentic values when others might be harmed or claim they’ll be harmed by this expression. Another way this shows up is through time and priority management conflicts. We play it safe and remain in indecision rather than moving forward. Instead of completing something important to us, we don’t find the time. Avoidance becomes the gremlin – true? This is something simple and concrete we can all grasp – also you can have some fun here too… asking your clients…Have you ever tried a little avoidance?

It is only when we declare our deep commitment to our values and learn to move forward courageously, that we can begin to move beyond this gremlin. When people dedicate themselves to focusing on their own inner integrity and alignment with their values, they begin to conduct their lives in a whole new way. They discover a new capacity for independence by sustaining their own authentic values. The person can truly begin to experience high levels of inner trust as well as inner satisfaction. The result is a legacy of purpose that can be passed on and becomes a gift to others. This is the territory of true inner and outer leadership.


The important thing to know is that it is possible and in many cases easy to tame and align your gremlins. How might you begin to apply your newfound awareness of gremlins to support yourself in living the life you love?