We all have demons that plague us. Automatic thoughts that pop up periodically and make us feel shitty. We all have different triggers that arouse our demons: maybe it’s a bad date, or failing in a big project at work or your kid having a major tantrum in the middle of the supermarket.
We usually deal with these demons in three ways. First we can give into them…cry all night about what losers we are and write lists of top ten suicide methods. Second, we try to run away from our demons by doing something else: watching TV, going out with friends, knitting, volunteering, eating chocolate, drinking, doing drugs. Third, we try to flight our demons and make them go away…perhaps by using methods like repeating positive phrases “I love myself and I am a good person!”, trying to actively force the demons out our out minds by not thinking about them, or writing down counter thoughts to your negative thoughts “I am not a loser, I have a job I love, great friends and a loving family!”.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with these methods (except excessive knitting drinking and drugging), the problem is that if your demons pop up often you can spend too much time giving in, avoiding, or fighting them instead of living. You try kick the demons out of your car or drive away from them, or just let them drive while cry in the fetal position in the back seat. Either way they end up controlling your path because you let them dictate your behavior and thoughts. You spend more time dealing with your demons than you do on the things really matter to you (often the stuff that triggers the demons).
So what’s the alternative? When your demon pops up, invite him in your car. Let him sit in the front seat. Let him chat your ear off. You are in the driver’s seat and you are deciding on the directions. Look at your poor ulgy demon. Feel compassion for the both of you. You created him. He’s very real. You two have probably spent YEARS breaking up and making up. You probably want to run away or start fighting with him or just let him drive, but you are trying something new., You are letting him have his say but you are not going to react to him. This is new so if you ditch your car and head to the closest convenience store for 2 king size twix, or if you two spend the next 3 hours fighting, or if he convinces you to just let go hand over the wheel, don’t feel bad. This has been your pattern for years, breaking it will take A LOT of practice and trial and error. Maybe one day you when your demon pops up you can say “hey old friend! I haven’t seen your ulgy ass in awhile! Hop in, I’m going on an exciting ride today.”