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I love High Fidelity. It also reinforces that it’s important what music is the soundtrack of your life. When I’m feeling flat, if I’ve been listening to a lot of pop music about relationships (Taylor Swift, Adele I’m looking at you), I find the wistful lyrics amplifying the sadnesses. Best not to indulge it.

But that’s not really what I was going to write about. I was going to write about feeling unwell (which I am today) and how when all you have to do is lie around feeling sick, you start thinking about what you need/want to do next, and because you’re feeling sick you start telling yourself that there’s no point in trying, that you’ll never have the energy to achieve anything, that you’ll always be lying here forever, staring at the ceiling and…oh, I was going to change that ugly light fitting. Well I’ll probably never get around to doing that either. Siiiiigh. Just a total failure really. People keep telling you you’re so creative, but they don’t know. People will hate what you produce. No one will hire you. No one will buy your diary. No one will buy your bags.

And on and on. It might sound extreme, but hey, when your defences are down, that’s when the voices come a-calling. Amanda Palmer calls them the fraud police. Brené Brown calls them gremlins. Brown says that the gremlins come as a result of shame:

The bottom line is that daring greatly requires worthiness. Shame sends the gremlins to fill our heads with completely different messages of:

Dare not! You’re not good enough!
Don’t you dare get too big for your britches!

…Shame derives its power from being unspeakable. That’s why it loves perfectionists–it’s so easy to keep us quiet. If we cultivate enough awareness about shame to name it and speak to it, we’ve basically cut it off at the knees.Shame hates having words wrapped around it. If we speak shame, it begins to wither. Just the way exposure to light was deadly for the gremlins, language and story bring light to shame and destroy it.

Brown’s definition of shame, if you were wondering, is:

Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.

Her solution to combatting the gremlins? Shame resilience, or “Gremlin Ninja Warrior training”. You’ll need to read her book Daring Greatly to find out how.

Something else Brown says in The Gifts of Imperfection is that we all have gifts and talents, and

Squandering our gifts brings distress to our lives. As it turns out, it’s not merely benign or “too bad” if we don’t use the gifts that we’ve been given; we pay for it with our emotional and physical well-being. When we don’t use our talents to cultivate meaningful work, we struggle. We feel disconnected and weighed down by feelings of emptiness, frustration, resentment, shame, disappointment, fear and even grief.

Well that would explain why when I’m down for the count and not able to do anything, I feel so bad.

As well as the Gremlin Ninja Warrior training, there are peripheral things that I find can help me too. Turn off the phone/laptop that has me scrolling through Other Peoples’ Blogs and Facebook and Twitter and comparing myself to all their glittering beauty (one of my biggest gremlins is named Comparison). Don’t listen to soppy pop songs on repeat when I’m feeling fragile about relationships. If I’m feeling sick, try and be aware that now is not the time to think big thoughts and make life-changing decisions; now is the time to sleep and recuperate. Turn my head and stare at the canvas on the wall and meditate on that for a while:


Got to listen to the right voices.