Thank Your Demons, Then Set Them Free.
You know the ones; those nasty little voices we accumulate or invent, that keep a constant tab on your failures, your mistakes and all the ways in which you aren’t measuring up.
They wreak havoc on anything resembling success.
Just when you’ve found your big break, you inexplicably find yourself at a loss for motivation, saying “What’s the use? It won’t work anyway.” Just when you decide to step toward a long-cherished dream, somehow an exact replica of that voice, the dreaded, critical one, floats deviously through your mind. “So you think you’re an artist now?”
They’re tricky little buggers, but extremely loyal; they know exactly how you’ve been hurt in the past and your subconscious enlisted them to make sure that didn’t happen again, so they wait, watching for any sign that you’re getting close to the boundaries of The Kingdom of Safe.
Then they raise their scarred heads and screech with everything in their arsenal until you step away, back into the shadows. Even if they have to mimic each mean thing you’ve ever heard or feared to hear, they will defend to the death the mission entrusted to them.
Instead of waging war against those voices of doubt and despair, could you maybe thank them? They are working so very hard to try to keep you safe from hurt in the only way they can. How do they know that really you are stepping toward wholeness? It’s outside the world they know, and you always told them the unknown was the enemy.
Can you tell them what else lies in the wide lands beyond their darkened view? Can you thank them for their faithfulness, and gently assure them that those particular services are no longer needed? Maybe set their misconceptions straight a little?
The only truth they know is what a frightened, hurt, angry child told them of a bewildering, often cruel world. Now that you know that world a bit better, why not change the story? Let in some of the light that’s been missing, show the shadows for what they really are, and open the windows to worlds that maybe they didn’t get to see before.
The shadows hide, as the frightened children they are, preferring the darkness they know. After all, the truth would strip away illusions, anything they believe they are: broken, too little, too much, unloved. Any trophies they guard like a dragon’s hoard, never knowing what they’re giving up for empty glitter.
This must make me worthy, they whisper, holding tight, turning over their treasure like Gollum in his cave.
It will take truth as well as compassion to convince those bits of you to peek out into the sunlight. Treat them gently, they don’t know that things like joy exist too. Once they did, but it’s easy to forget in the dark.
Now they will remember; they will laugh, they will run through tall grass for the fun of it, splash in rain puddles, and wait with bated breath for the first pale stars to emerge.
Just give them a safe place to breathe.
Jessica Myscofski is passionate about photography, writing, travel, and discovering the beauty hidden in the mundane. She is recovering her voice from the grip of Asperger’s, and learning to love the journey. She lives with her family in northern Colorado. Visit her blog, or view her photos.