Actor's Resources

Beware the Gremlin

By lesly kahn | January 4, 2018

With pilot season fast-approaching, I wanted to share this post by my sister, the fabulous life coach Genie Kahn:


By Genie Kahn, M.A., MFT, LIFE COACH


Have you ever had your confidence shaken as you are doing what you love? Are you great in front of the mirror, your best friend, but freeze up in class or at auditions? Ever wonder why you can’t be at your best when you need to the most?


The Gremlin, as we call her in the Life Coaching world, is a part of yourself you’ve never formally met – that negative voice in your head. You know, the one who loves putting you down and telling you that you’re not good enough. Gremlin can be imperious when she says, “Who do you think you are to have a career?” She’s resigned when she says, “You’re wasting your time and your money.”  She’s angry when she tells you that “You really blew it today! You weren’t prepared.” Or even disgusted, saying, “ You don’t listen at class and you’re soooooooo defensive when you get notes”…. And on and on and on until you’re ready to drive a stake through your heart!  Sound familiar?

 “But she’s right!” you may say! I didn’t prepare, I can’t deal with criticism, etc. Maybe. But I don’t believe that we’re basic masochists. Unless some part of you believed you were talented, you probably wouldn’t be here with the desire to make it as an actor. And you know what? That’s the bigger part of you. Really, truly! What’s confusing is that our persistent, tenacious Gremlin has a much louder voice.

Everyone has a Gremlin. And her job is to maintain the status quo. She doesn’t like change and when you start to do things differently, or become confident on a semi-regular basis, she feels threatened. Believe it or not, she thinks she’s being protective. She’s trying to save you from future pain, or so she says. That crafty ol’ Gremlin of yours can be slippery, clever, insidious, ludicrous and even ridiculous once you get to know her. Your job is to stop believing her. Your job is to have FUN DOING WHAT YOU LOVE!

So the first thing you need to do is become AWARE of her – to shine the light on her. When you do that and call her out, she begins to lose her power. As a kid, we were afraid of that terrible monster in the closet – until Mom turned on the light. Once you recognize her and name her, you can begin to tame her. Even though she never completely goes away, she’s quite manageable.  Ask her what she wants? You may be surprised! So be on the lookout. Become the Sherlock Holmes of your mind. Guard your inner space zealously.

One of her favorite tricks is insisting you strive for PERFECTION!  Author John Updike wrote that “perfectionism is the enemy of creation.” Isn’t it about working to be the best you can be? There is no perfect, only a better you. Carried to extremes, perfection is toxic as well as paralyzing. You know this.

She also loves telling you how LAZY you are and that’s why you’re not succeeding. I hate that word. I see you guys doing drop-offs, taking classes, workshops, doing mailings, making calls, etc. If there’s something more to do, then TAKE ACTION and do it! Now!

Some of my clients have told me that their Gremlin insists on claiming that “if you try and then fail, it will just hurt too much. “ Therefore, she convinces you that if you don’t try, you can’t fail – or some such nonsense. Ring any bells? Maybe success is just doing what you can do every day – moving forward, being clear about your intention, and recognizing when Gremlin’s got you in a chokehold.

Another of her favorite tricks is inviting you to perform in her favorite reality show – So You Think You’re Hot Stuff? How many times have you walked into the waiting room before an audition and completely freaked out since Fabulous Frannie  is taller, blonder, better looking, killer smile, body to die for, been in 150 shows, you get my drift. Do yourself a favor and put down the COMPARE/DESPAIR whip of self-flagellation. If you continue to play this game you will, I promise, continue to feel like crusty crap-on-a-stick! Change your internal dialogue. When you see buff Bobby, don’t let yourself slide into the rancid well of comparison. Climb on out, and remind yourself that you’re TALENTED, FABULOUS, WONDERFUL and COMPLETELY UNIQUE – which you are! LEARN TO DISAGREE WITH YOUR GREMLIN ON A REGULAR BASIS!

So choose better thoughts by noticing and neutralizing your Gremlin. As with our favorite trio of travelers on the Yellow Brick Road, you have the brains, the heart and courage to do so. Since you care about being a great actor, the clothes you wear, the impression you make; and you’re picky about what you eat and where you go to relax and have fun –how about being pickier about the thoughts you think? It’s about learning to use your mind to work FOR YOU rather than AGAINST YOU.  SO DON’T LET HER FEAST ON YOU AND UNDERMINE YOUR CONFIDENCE!

So whether you’re looking to MAKE THOSE DREADED CALLS, ACE THAT AUDITION, or just feel good about yourself, start by putting down the broomstick that you borrowed from The Wicked Witch of the West. Throw some water on that “cursed fool,” your Gremlin and choose You! Go for it! Have fun! Have fun auditioning, have fun rehearsing! Dream your dreams and create the life you intend! Give yourself the gift of being the best you you can be!