Goblins & Gremlins


chimp paradox

In yesterdays post I spoke about the usefulness of Self-Talk management but how, while it’s easy to understand, it’s hard to master.

The Chimp Paradox: The Mind Management Programme to Help You Achieve Success, Confidence and Happiness is a mind management model by Professor Steve Peters that has been used by many elite performing individuals to, in part, manage their Self-Talk.

At the start of On Track with Curtis Keene he spoke about ‘the troll’, well in the Chimp Paradox there are Goblins and Gremlins.


A Goblin is described as being more or less a hard-wired behaviour, belief or automatic program that developed in childhood before the age of 8. In the Chimp Paradox, Goblins are pretty much considered unerasable and therefore something we need to learn to contain.

The example given for how Goblins develop is Fridge Door Syndrome. When a child brings a picture home from school and shows their mum or dad, the parent’s first response is pretty often to take the picture and say something like ‘I’m so proud of you, you’re so clever, lets put this up on the fridge for everyone to see’. Professor Peters suggests this leads the child to draw the conclusion that the parent is only proud of them because of their achievement and thus the child’s self-worth comes to depend on their ability to achieve. What this leaves us with is a Goblin for life. The suggested alternative for how to manage this situation is for the parent to first tell the child they’re proud of them and think they’re clever before then congratulating them on their fantastic picture.


A Gremlin, in the Chimp Paradox is soft wired and so can be removed.

An example given for gremlins is unrealistic and unhelpful expectations. The example given for this is someone who believes they should always be on time. No matter how hard we try to be on time there will come a day when, for some reason, we’re not on time. If we’re determined we shouldn’t be late then, the book suggests, this will cause us to be stressed and potentially result in us acting irrationally.

The Chimp Paradox goes onto to explain how we can learn to control our Goblins and erase our Gremlins using techniques including Self-Talk. It provides a powerful and acclaimed program for building elite psychological performance with several elite sports personalities named as using it.

If you’re going to take the time to practice, practice like the elite.


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