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Facing the Gremlin Within: A New Approach to Overcoming Professional Burnout

Updated: Jan 31

Coach Marco B, also known as Marco Benitez, a Physician Associate and Certified Coach, presents 'The Gremlin' concept in a creative image. It features a profile of a man with layered head sections revealing a Gremlin, symbolizing self-doubt with the text 'The Gremlin - That little voice that says "I'm Not Good Enough"'. This image is associated with blog content on authenticity and overcoming professional burnout.

In our personal and professional lives, we often encounter the deep-seated feeling of 'not being enough.' This voice, known as your 'Gremlin,' can subtly but significantly contribute to the experience of burnout. If one perpetually feels 'not good enough,' they may find themselves stuck, frustrated, and perceive a lack of options for growth or pursuing what truly matters to them.

Have you ever been in a situation where you wanted to accomplish something and all of a sudden you feel something pulling you back and then a thought such as “Why bother?” or “Why try?” or “What’s the point?” shows up? If so, then you my friend have experienced YOUR GREMLIN. Don’t worry, you’re not alone, everyone has one. Even the most successful and confident people you can think of have them. Some people just hide it or manage it better than others.

So, what exactly is a gremlin?

The gremlin is that little voice inside of you that says “I’m not ‘something’ enough.” The ‘something’ can be any number of things. It could be “I’m not pretty enough”, “I’m not financially well off enough”, “I’m not thin enough”, “I’m not strong enough”, “I’m not smart enough”, “I’m not good enough”, and the list can go on and on. This message is usually formed as the result of an experience(s) that caused you to ask yourself the question “Maybe I’m not _______ enough”?

Why do we even have a gremlin?

Simply put, for protection. You see, the Gremlin has good intentions, it tries to serve us by protecting us and keeping us out of situations with unknown outcomes… outcomes that may potentially be detrimental to our well-being.

Is the Gremlin our mind working against us or our heart betraying us?

Well, that’s where things get a bit more complicated. Here’s what I’ve found through working with people, meditation, and deep thought throughout the years.

The gremlin is not of the soul, as the soul serves to expand and reveal, but the gremlin is also not of the mind, as the mind serves to calculate, decode and interpret the ‘abstract’ it’s curated from the soul. The gremlin, therefore, exists in limbo, the state or 'place', if you will, between the soul and the mind. This is where and how the gremlin has power, because there the messages of the gremlin are incomprehensible yet logical to the mind allowing them to be acceptable, and constrained yet comforting to the soul allowing them to be welcomed.

The successful infiltration of the gremlin message, therefore, results in an incongruence between our divine consciousness and this physical reality, causing emotional and physical turmoil, often experienced as that uncomfortable “pulling you back” feeling. Considering this, we can see the gremlin as the occupant of one of the bridges between the soul and mind, the heart and the head, consciousness and the physical world.

So can the gremlin be overcome?

Overcome as in managed, yes; overcome as in eliminated permanently, no. This is because the gremlin is very deeply engrained into who we are and our personal belief system. The challenge, therefore, in overcoming the gremlin, is in creating an energetic "synapse" between the soul and the mind, the head and the heart, similar to the way two rivaling parents put their differences aside for the good of their child. The mind and soul must therefore release their respective "true" and establish a common "truth" which serves the self in which they both reside. When achieved, the result of this synergy is light. Light which reveals a Gremlin, light which illuminates the mind, light which warms the soul, light which emits from the self and radiates outwards unto others.

Can I do it on my own?

While anyone can identify and manage their gremlin, the process may not always be easy. Sometimes just bringing one’s attention that there exists an “I’m not something enough” message is enough to reveal their gremlin. What I've found, however, is that we oftentimes have several gremlins. The one that is revealed first and the easiest is what I call the primary gremlin, but while the primary gremlin may be causing some blocks or trouble in a person’s life, it’s the secondary, tertiary, etc. gremlins that have life and path-altering influence. On their own most people are not able to ‘dig’ deep enough to reveal the biggest and most powerful gremlins, however, working with a certified coach or psychotherapist can allow a person to have deep conversations and incorporate certain tools and exercises helpful in revealing the biggest and most powerful gremlin(s) that a person has.

Pretty heavy stuff huh? Well take a deep breath and chillax and remember that the gremlin just wants to keep you safe and comfortable, it’s not trying to hurt you… it’s just a tad bit overprotective. The good news is that when you see your gremlin show up it’s a pretty good indicator that you're about to try something pretty damn out of the ordinary and that means an opportunity for growth, progress, advancement, and experience. You know…all those things you need to live your dreams.

So here are 4 things you can do to reveal and overcome your gremlin:

  1. Reflect- Think back on what “I’m not something enough” message you hear in your head when you’re about to do something out of the ordinary? In what situations does it show up?

  2. Meditate- Sitting in silence with the intention of identifying your gremlin message can be effective at revealing your gremlin.

  3. Personalize it- Make it less abstract and dial down its power by giving it a name or associating it with an image. Imagine you were going to ask your boss to consider you for a promotion and your “I’m not experienced enough” gremlin shows up. While you may initially freak out at just the thought of that conversation, if you personalized your gremlin it would make the message less intimidating. Imagine you named your gremlin Fifi and it was a tiny unicorn with a rainbow tail. And Fifi first showed up when you were 16 after you weren't promoted to chief stock associate at the supermarket because the job went to the 19-year-old who was working there longer than you. Suddenly, putting your gremlin in its place is a lot easier.

  4. Get a Coach- This may seem like a shameless plug (and maybe it is) but I can’t stress enough, the power of working with a coach. While you can make progress on your own, working with a coach is life-changing and will advance you by leaps and bounds, much faster than others trying to do it on their own. Think about it, maybe up until now you never realized you even had a gremlin or that such a thing even existed. Well if an article can do that for you, imagine if you had the opportunity to sit with a coach one-on-one to talk specifically about your situation and begin to identify and manage your gremlin. What would a conversation like that be worth to you? What if you knew that in just a few months you could make changes in your life that would benefit you and your loved ones for a lifetime, what would that do for you?

This is a big topic and it’s bound to stir up some thought and emotion. I’m interested to know what you think. What’s your gremlin’s message? Where does it show up in your life or career? What steps have you taken to overcome your gremlin? Share in the comments below.

If you are ready to work with a coach, I encourage you to schedule a Discovery Call to share your struggles with burnout, learn what coaching can do for you, and start the journey of managing your gremlin and the risk of burnout.

Lastly, remember to connect with me to stay informed about my future posts on burnout, stress management, and personal development. As a burnout coach, I am dedicated to helping individuals recognize and manage their gremlins, leading to a more fulfilling life and career. Remember, the first step in managing burnout is recognizing what fuels it – and oftentimes, it's your gremlin.

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