The Crystal-ball Gremlin and the snow mountain

snowballs rolling down a mountain
© Dr Steve Peters and Jeff Battista

I am reading an interesting book at the moment – The Chimp Paradox (The mind management programme for confidence, success and happiness) by Dr Steve Peters.

Amongst other things, it talks about the dangers of “crystal-ball gazing”; looking into the future and trying to predict what is going to happen.

“This typically leads to unhappiness.” (Yikes, I am practically a renowned world-expert!)

The reason this activity is fraught with problems is because the crystal ball rarely shows a happy future.

So the “Crystal-ball Gremlin” looks into the future and sees doom and gloom. (In my case, a rubbish job, no money, and no man in my life.)

So far so good…what happens next?

“The Crystal-ball Gremlin makes a ‘what might be’ snowball and pushes it down the slope. As the snowball rolls down the slope it gathers more and more snow to become a mountain. The snowball forms a ‘what might be’ snow mountain. You are now trapped with a mountain, worrying about all these what might be’s

I think we all agree, that’s not a good scenario.

Here’s what the book recommends:

Smash the crystal ball, kick out the Gremlin, and consciously replace it with the thought “I’ll cross each bridge as I come to it”.

In other words, don’t make snowballs by guessing what will happen, stay in the here and now and deal with things as they unfold.

I like this. How often have you put yourself through misery and anxiety about something (a dentist appointment, a date, a job interview) only to find that the thing you were shitting yourself about was actually not so bad (or in fact went pretty darn swimmingly)?

So you put yourself through hell for absolutely no reason!

My resolution is to create less ‘what might be’ snowballs (i.e. stop obsessively looking into the crystal ball).

If I catch myself sneaking a peep (let’s face it, it’s going to happen) then I’m going to make sure I visualise some enticing, positive outcomes.

I know from past experience that this can be one of the hardest things to do.

But if I keep the image of the Crystal-ball Gremlin and snow mountain in my mind (and the humongous mountain of misery I can create for myself just through my thinking), then I think I stand a fighting chance.

10 thoughts on “The Crystal-ball Gremlin and the snow mountain”

  1. As a devout pessimist, my philosophy is expect the worst and anything less is a bonus. But that sometimes sucks, so I see the merit in this method! ;)


  2. RE: Crossing bridges –

    3 contestants in a wizard competition stood on the bank of a mighty river – the Grand Wizard instructed each to cross the river
    The first wizard commanded the wind to sweep a river bed path for him to walk across
    The second wizard commanded a dragon to appear and carry him across the river
    The third, a wizardess, asked the Grand Wizard, “Must I cross exactly at this point?”
    He replied, “No, the challenge is simply to get from this side to the other”
    At which point, she walked upstream 50 ft., and then crossed using the bridge.



  3. I know exactly what you mean, I often make mountains out of molehills by looking too far ahead! A difficult balance to get, isn’t it, having an aim but not getting too far ahead of yourself…


  4. Thought provoking sound sense. I am recently working through an idea for a long term career change ( I hate the word career because it sounds like work) , but I got carried away with the what if’s and how to’s, rather than take a step back and apply some outside of the box thinking. This is a journey of everyday realities and small actions ( no matter how small, but not too small) driven by that feeling of exuberance, and when the thought of being paid for it is secondary to the feeling that I just love doing this. Great blog.


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