Taming Your Gremlin by Rick Carson

I only happened to stumble across this little nugget of self-help knowledge after signing up for a book club, and at first, I was almost certain that I wouldn't like it. But I'd already signed up, and there was no backing out. 

For the first few weeks of the book club, I found myself sluggishly working through the assigned chapters, making notes to discuss in group. 

Really I found it a chore, and would typically leave it to the last possible moment. And for someone who loves books, this wasn't what I expected for my first book club.

The author, Rick Carson, states that “Gremlin-Taming is a method for meeting the inner challenge that is inherent in every activity from climbing Mount Everest to getting a good night's sleep…” 

To be honest, when reading the book, my goal wasn't to climb Mount Everest, or get a good night's sleep, it was to find and practice the tools to “tame the gremlin in my head and be on my way to freedom from self-defeating behaviours and beliefs,” which Carlson also claims.

In simpler terms, I wanted to get a hold on the little voice in my head that's always telling me I'm not good enough, and tell it to back right off. I was hoping that Carlson and his book could help me do that.

As the weeks pressed on, I started to become more engaged with the book and grasp an understanding of the gremlin taming process. I also hate calling it gremlin taming but that seemed like the most appropriate word for it.

What I loved most about the book was the concept of simply noticing. This idea that we are not required to put in any effort, or to open up our coping strategy filing cabinets for various coping skills to deal with specific situations that end with us getting more stressed… 

We just have to simply notice and that is all. When Carlson refers to simply noticing, I see this as a form of practicing mindfulness. 

Another thing Carlson talks about is having all your ducks in a row and the reality that this is never going to happen. As a perfectionist, I felt I could engage with this chapter a lot. 

Have you ever thought about having all of your ducks in a row? And all the wonderful fabulous things you'll do when you have all your ducks lined up? How perfect and beautiful life will be when that happens. 

I know logically that this is now how life works, and the reminder was useful.

I think what I expected in finishing this book was to combat my demons, and to close the book with closure of my ailments. I think that's what many of us hope for with a self-help book, guidance and a sudden fix. The reality is that's often far from the truth. 

While self-help books contain a great depth of knowledge, with many tools and skills within, they typically require the reader to put those into practice in daily life for them to become effective. The work is in the hands of the reader after reading. I believe change is possible, but it only works if you work it as they say in AA. 

I like that Carlson ended the book on a realistic note and not a sales pitch. Rather than trying to sell us on a fix-all, he reminds us that there's no finish line when it comes to gremlin taming. Our inner gremlin wants us to believe that happiness lies in our future, maybe not the here and now. The chatter in our head may tell us it's not available or attainable right at this moment, but it's an ongoing lifelong process.