What’s the coolest thing about a sci-fi movie? That epic battle between right and wrong, good and evil, right? But the biggest battle, my friends, is the one that goes on right between your ears.
Which voice is talking or perhaps whispering to you at this very moment? “Psstt…G’head and eat that third donut. C’mon, it’s the weekend, after all, and you’re already off your diet.” “Sleep a bit longer and skip that class. You learned enough this week.” “Gee, that’s a horrible idea. Okay, what time should I be there?” So which boxing match are you fighting? Let’s be honest. You can’t even begin to fight if you do not even know or acknowledge your opponent. Know thine enemy. G’head and name him if you want. The Donut Monster? The “You’re Not Good Enough” villain? Miserella?
You don’t know them, you say? Tell me all the parts of you that you don’t love and we will know where to begin. Then we devise a plan. Your inner demon may not get any weaker, but guess what? You will get stronger to fight him. We will study his patterns. When is he most likely to show up? Does he attack when you are at your most vulnerable? If so, we will learn to be ready and not be caught off guard each and every time. You keep losing the same ole’ battle? Time to change your strategy, sweet friends.
Perhaps you overindulge in all that chocolate when you are tired or bored or on the weekends. If you have ten chocolate cakes, and someone asks you for one, how many do you have left? That’s right: ten. Heh. Maybe you’re tempted to gossip when you don’t feel too good about yourself or your own life? When that feeling of “giving up and giving in” shows up, you can look that rascal in the eye and choose to do the exact opposite of his beckoning. You know he’s got you exactly where he wants you. Enlist a friend to help you do battle, if need be. Fear of rejection preventing you from asking her out? The “Who Are You Kidding” aggressor inside your brain convinced you that you don’t have the courage to try something you have always wanted to do? Does the committee in your head come up with a problem for every solution in life? Don’t just shrug and give up. Challenge him to a duel this time. Prove him wrong.
What are the disappointments or frustrations that prevent you from truly experiencing happiness, love, and peace of mind? Inner ogres love to chow down on your negative emotions and thoughts. So, what are you feeding them? Making yourself the victim of your own life story is their favorite theme of all. The more you focus on the bad things in your life, the deeper that hole will be that they push you into.
Sometimes those inner trolls of depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem tag team to try to make sure they all win. You can feel like you are under siege. As exhausting as it is to fight them, do not allow them to take root. If you do, they can wreak havoc and spend their day launching missiles at your unsuspecting psyche. Offer them some cheese to go with their “whine.” Do what you need to do despite that negative chorus in your head telling you that you can’t or that there’s no point.
Never listen to dark voices. You need to build inner strength, my friends, so that you are able to buck, bicker, and brawl on your behalf. Build up those defenses so they can help you fight back against the tyranny of that negative self-talk. It’s not pointless. You are worth it and you can do this. So there.
You are way more resilient than you think. Just look at it this way: If you are still here, and breathing, then those demons have not won. And remember that everything in this life is time-limited – even you. The dark times will end. The disappointment will ease and you will overcome that torturous fear of being unlovable. Those inner brutes come in lots of shapes, sizes, and colors, mind you: emerald green jealousy, dark blue fear of failure, a never-ending black hole of worthlessness. None of us enjoys sparring with frightening thoughts, evil impulses, or sadness that does not seem to end. But the only way out is going right through them. Go ahead and dance with those demons.
That may certainly not seem like the easiest, but please trust me when I say that you must learn to accept and face your anger, fear, guilt, or lack of self-confidence. Only then can you accept all parts of yourself and learn the life lessons that await you on the other side of the pain. You simply cannot keep burying them. They will surface in ways that may convince you to take your pain out on others, or you may end up spending your entire life simply trying to deny them.
Reclaim your power. Take the high, rocky road. Life is chock full of treasures, but traumas as well. However, you can bear what you once thought was unbearable.
Talk to yourself lovingly, sweet friends. And by all means, please graciously accept help from friends, family, religious figures in your life, a therapist, or any means of healthy support that you can find. You do not have to weather the storm alone. I am right here.
What are your thoughts? The floor is yours…
Caroline is a licensed psychotherapist, crisis counselor, and writer with an office in Queens. She works with individuals, couples, and families. Appointments are available throughout the week and weekends. She can be reached at 917-717-1775 or at Safehavenhealing@gmail.com or at facebook.com/pages/Safe-Haven-Healing.