Space for my Demons


Remember that scene from the Disney animated film Wreck-it Ralph where all the bad guys are sitting around a group therapy session?  They all had their stories and were freely encouraged to air out their feelings.  Maybe it was just a movie, good for a bit of comic relief, but it does bring up an interesting notion.

If you’ve even been in a group therapy session, you know how powerful it can be.  For a brief time, everyone can be honest and bare their feelings in a protected space.  All the secrets can come out and be met with compassion.  You can really sit with your feelings, and there’s no judgement.   It can be a very freeing experience.  Afterall, most of the time we hide all of our demons out of fear of what others might think.

Take a look at these words: Fear, gloom, anger, guilt, shame, self-judgement, addiction, hatred.  These are some of our demons that we are afraid to face, but they don’t sit quietly playing chess in the basement, do they?  No, they run amok in all of the patterns of our lives.  We identify with each, at some deep level, because of past experiences.  The encounters have long vanished, but their smear still lingers strong.  Each of these stories we carry is our baggage, and we identify with that character.  This is the heaviness in us.

What if we sat quietly and joyfully, and held an internal group therapy for each of our demons?  Every day we can invite one of these feelings and imagine all of our former selves in a circle, each telling their own story, as we listen with love and understanding.  This does take a lot of emotionally maturity and an ability to stay objective, but can we allow each of our fear identities, for example, to voice their story?  And can we listen with self-love, self-compassion and without judgement?  Can we face our demons and listen to what they have to teach us?  Can we do this with gloom, anger, guilt, and the others?  So much needs to surface, be accepted, so it can be let go of.  Maybe we’re not capable of doing this for ourselves, that’s why we have therapists.  But the fundamental question we need to ask is, “how would I feel if I stopped limiting myself to this character and this story?” and the deeper version, “who am I without this identity?

It might be worth remembering what a privilege it is to be a human being.  We take it for granted wholesale but think about it – here is a being that is capable of intricate feelings across a sweeping spectrum of emotions.  It’s an absolute feast, delicious even, if we can just sit with any of it for a moment without all the mental overlays.  We only suffer because we limit ourselves, entangle ourselves with identifications in the stories we weave.  We invest in these stories, and they bind us.  But we are capable of even enjoying the feelings that arise without suffering them.  Take sadness, if we didn’t label it as “bad”, can you imagine a space where you might enjoy a bit of sadness – a melancholic moment.  Before your mind rejects the idea, think about a sad piece of beautiful music.  Those serene blue notes tugging at our heart, as we feel the lump in our throat, and maybe even a tear finds its way loose.  Listening to that can be a luscious, velvety experience if we just give it a chance without the thought chaos.  That same moment of nowness, that’s what needs to be applied to those parts of us we’ve hidden away.  Only when we give space to our demons, will they give us space back.

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