When things go wrong in our lives and we can’t find ready answers, it’s easier if we have something on which to lay the blame, especially if it involves our emotions. It may be that after the death of a parent our grieving seems to endlessly drag things up that are far deeper than the loss of a loved one. It may be that our poor self-esteem appears to tumble from one depth to an even deeper level of inexplicable self-loathing. In such cases, it seems to help us when we can talk about a ‘something’ rather than a ‘nothing’. The word ‘gremlin’ is a useful term, because it describes some sort of invisible being that rattles around at the back of our minds as a mischievous troublemaker.
The gremlin came into use during World War II to describe an imaginary imp, said to be responsible for mechanical troubles in aircraft. Today gremlins seem to have a far wider application and may be blamed for causing all manner of things, including our ‘phobias’, our ‘clinical depression’, or our ‘poor self-esteem’. The hard evidence of their existence in our mental health is no more real than for the original gremlins in the aircraft.
However, they can be useful when we need to say, ‘it’s not really my fault’ or, ‘there are parts of my life I can’t explain’ or, ‘there are parts of my life over which I have no control’.
Acknowledging our ‘gremlins’ can be the first step to emotional healing. The next step is to find someone qualified to discuss your issues with – a counsellor, a psychologist, a trusted friend. For some people there is still a certain amount of stigma around ‘going to a counsellor’ but ignoring the elephant in the room won’t make it go away.
Take that first step if you need help.