Let us begin with three unusual proposals:
Although you use the word “I” (or “Ich” or “Eu” or “Yo” or “Εγώ”) many times each day, you do not speak, think, or act from a single, coherent “I” at all times. Rather, you oscillate seamlessly and unconsciously between different “I”s many times each day, sometimes hopping from one to the next within the span of a single minute.
You are one person when you are talking to a coworker, another when your mother calls 30 seconds later, and still another when you speak to your child or your dog. You are one person when you set your alarm at night, another when you hit snooze in the morning. You are one person when you are at a fancy restaurant, another when you pick your nose secretly in the restaurant’s restroom, another when you return to your table and pretend nothing happened.
The world that is most easily apparent to the majority of people is the Middle World. In the Middle World are all things worldly: time, appointments, money, physical space, physical objects, logistics, bills, work, kids, hobbies, tidying up the bed, vacuuming the living room, etc.
The next world is the Upperworld. The Upperworld is made up of Bright Principles like Love, Integrity, Acceptance, Appreciation, Transformation, Possibility, Evolution, Creation, Discovery, Adventure, Joie de Vivre, Clarity, Empowerment, Vulnerability, etc.
The third world is the Underworld, which is made up of Shadow Principles like Deceit, Scarcity, Hatred, Revenge, Superiority, Manipulation, Sadism, Victimhood, Betrayal (both betraying others and being betrayed by others), Arrogance, Good/Bad, Right/Wrong, etc.
Every action and every inaction that you take in the Middle World is imbued either with Upperworldly Bright Principles or Underworldly Shadow Principles. In order to know whether an action is generated by your Underworld or your Upperworld, you must know its purpose. And to know the purpose, you need look no further than the results you are creating.
This might seem simple enough. If you want your actions to spring from the Upperworld, then just choose for Upperworld purposes to guide your actions, right?
In truth, things are more complicated. That is because the unconscious impulse to dress up Underworld purposes in the clothing of noble and justificatory reasons is strong.
For instance, someone who habitually rescues others from the challenges they face might identify themselves as a ‘helper.’ “I just like making people’s lives easier,” they might say. “And people are comfortable opening up to me about their struggles. In fact, my purpose in life is to be an agent of service and empowerment to those in need.” This all sounds fine and good, but things may not be as virtuous as they seem.
If the results of this person’s actions are that people are actually disempowered rather than empowered; that people become reliant and dependent; that people learn how to magnetize rescuers rather than discover their own strength; well, then something funky is afoot.
Digging deeper might reveal that at the subterranean level, this ‘helper’ is terrified that if they are not constantly doing things for other people, then they have no value. This terror inspires them to neurotically foist themselves on anyone willing to receive their help. They attract around themselves a clan of helpless, disempowered groupies whose neediness provides a never-ending stream of validation. Because the ‘helper’ is dependent on this stream of people for validation, they ironically can never authentically empower anyone, because true empowerment would mean that a person might no longer ‘need’ them. If a person no longer ‘needed’ them, the validation would go away. To guard against this eventuality, the ‘helper’ unconsciously treats anyone who becomes authentically empowered as a traitor.
This might sound too elaborate and too intricate. In reality, the Underworld is exactly this elaborate — mine and yours and everybody else’s.
With so much opaqueness and complexity to chop through, how could you possibly hope to develop enough clarity to know when you are enacting Underworld purposes? The answer to this question turns out to be a path. And that path leads straight to the Gremlin.
PROPOSAL 3: Part of you is Gremlin.
Your Gremlin is the part of you that runs the show in your Underworld. Your Gremlin is devoted to two things, which turn out to actually be one thing. The first thing is irresponsibility. The second is protecting you (or rather your Box) at all costs.
There are so many faces and facets of Gremlin that listing them all would fill a book. A sampling will do. Your Gremlin is at work when:
- You play the victim of anyone or anything.
- You deceive, sneak, mislead, misdirect.
- You hate or resent anyone for any reason.
- You blame others.
- You gossip or spread rumors.
- You eat or drink anything for the purpose of numbing.
- You steal.
- You fail to negotiate or communicate.
- You piss on the toilet seat (men).
- You leave a trail of your personal belongings in spaces.
- You smile instead of communicating how you actually feel.
- You drink so much coffee that your nervous system is in constant overdrive.
- You binge watch show after show instead of devoting any of your precious time to creation.
- You cancel an appointment with a friend, secretly getting her back for canceling with you last week.
- You eat a whole pint of ice cream in one sitting.
- You make endless jokes instead of making authentic contact.
- You drain your energy by beating yourself up.
- You take pleasure in the suffering of others.
- You use your sexual energy to manipulate, seduce or make yourself safe.
- You get the picture…
It is possible that you have tried to get rid of your Gremlin before, attempting to starve, hate, or shame it out of existence. This could mean going on diets, adhering to strict schedules, promising yourself you will stop all addictive behaviors starting tomorrow, trying to be ‘good’ or holy, following the rules, etc.
It is possible that you have tried to skip ruthless examination of your Underworld altogether, attempting instead to access the Upperworld straightaway through a kind of New Age, feel-good, spiritual bypass.
If you want to live a life where you have any hope of consciously imbuing your actions with the energy of Bright Principles, you must contend with Gremlin. You must find out what you and your Gremlin are really up to, and make conscious what has previously been unconscious. This means facing into your games, your manipulations, the strategies you deploy for getting what you want, the strategies you deploy for revenge, the victim stories you tell yourself and anyone who will listen.
Beyond the practical steps of starting work with Gremlin, there are two distinctions that emerge at the beginning of Gremlin Transformation Work that turn out to be incredibly important. These distinctions are as follows:
- Gremlin is not bad.
- Gremlin is not good.