Finding happiness and fulfillment in life demands we learn to be consciously aware and face our inner emotional demons which control much of our life, say Dark Angel and Doktor Snake
Most of us sleepwalk through life. We are on autopilot, little more than robots, reacting rather than actively dealing with things. Inconsequential incidents put us in a rage or spiral us into melancholy (depression). We literally have no control over the world around us or of ourselves.
No wonder so many of us are dissatisfied with our lives and resort to quick fixes to make ourselves feel better.
But there is another way. A way that brings meaning and depth and lifts us with the spark for life that has been missing for so long.
It involves becoming consciously aware and creating a “central I” that can observe ourselves and take control of wayward emotions that literally bring us down, and lead us to being stuck in life. We also have to recognize and face our inner demons, which are typically emotional traits, such as anger, indignance, jealousy or ego, that send us “out of control” and litterally possess us and shape our behaviour.
While you may not be able to completely “exorcise” these demons, being aware of them means you are no longer under their thrall, and you will be much more able to be calmer and happy in life – no matter what you are facing.
To get to the heart of what is essentially an existential crisis cannot be done with a quick fix. It’s no easy path and involves going to a place we fear to tread.
Where is this place?
It’s the realm of self-deception. Most of us don’t even know this realm is there. Deceiving ourselves has become a habit. We literally lie to ourselves on a daily basis and mostly don’t realize it. We create a world of illusion so we don’t have to face the reality of the world around us.
We simply create a new reality for ourselves.
Doing this, however, does not bring happiness or freedom. It doesn’t address our existential crisis.
Nor does it offer a a genuine “comfort zone” from the reality around you. Like it or not, reality is still there impacting you. It won’t go away. You’ve just gone into a realm of your own creation, one you’ve become accustomed to.
Admittedly, this new reality you’ve created might be a place you retreat to when the going gets tough. So it might seem like a comfort zone. But it doesn’t bring you happiness or anything near it.
It’s essentially a rabbit hole you run down to escape. You cower within the darkness in a state of melancholy, hoping against hope that things will change in your life, or that the people around you will change. Neither is going to happen. Not while you’re in the rabbit hole of self-deception.
So what can be done?
You learn to use your mind proactively. You take command of yourself and your life, rather than just reacting emotionally to everything that comes your way.
The first step is to recognize that your mind might well having been trying to heal you by creating a new reality or fantasy world to escape to. It didn’t know what else to do. It’s not like you were born with a users manual for the brain. Your mind just did the best it could.
But with this well-intentioned, but cack-handed healing from the mind, you can find yourself in the darkness of melancholy and depression. The problem is, once there, most people get stuck there and have no idea how to get out of it.
The escape involves going into the receses of your mind. This is a very scary place where you will meet your “demons” within. Once exposed, these deeply ingrained critters, tend to throw tantrums worthy of a toddler stamping his or feet with indignant rage.
It’s not a path for everybody; it involves a stout heart and the courage to enter this dark place and face every demon that lives within you.
By demons, we mean deep seated psychological and emotional traits that literally control your behavior and thinking patterns. Personifying these as demons is helpful as it illustrates how powerful and deeply entrenched these internal forces are.
Often these traits come from childhood, past relationships, PTSD, abuse of all kinds, and addictions. They can also come from lies told to you by a significant other, or indeed, lies you’ve told yourself.
Other aspects of these traits might include, envy, wrathfulness, greed, gluttony, sexual indulgence, slothfulness, and egocentricity.
In a sense, just like the demons of Biblical lore and horror movies, these traits really do possess us, and we are usually blissfully unaware that they are even there and that they shape the course of our lives.
This is because we live on autopilot, thrown hither and thither by our reactive “emotional brain”. The emotional brain is home to the aforesaid “demons”, completely out of control, and directing nearly everything we do and everything we say.
There will always be monuments when we “wake up” from this robotic life. Perhaps a feeling of inspiration will overtake us for no apparent reason, and we feel at one with the world and the people and beasts around us.
Sadly, such moments are typically fleeting. And our emotional brain, along with its resident demons, takes the helm of our being once again.
Put in simpler terms, these demons are decisions we have made subconsciously and weren’t aware of. They lurk within the shadows of our minds. Thus we can easily ignore the presences of our demons, and simply create a new reality or fantasy world, and often fall into a meloncholy or depressed state.
Because we don’t truly look into ourselves and the reality that’s around us, we don’t see the demons that are right in front of us dictating how we will live our lives.
We have left reality and live in a trance state…
This is the condition of man (and woman). We are sleepwalkers. Going about our day like robots. Mechanical animals unaware of the disparate internal forces that vie with each other for control of us. The many “I’s” that live inside us.
For convenience, we call these “I’s” demons. Truly we “are legion”. But that is the norm. We are all possessed by many separate selves that all desperately want to be at the helm and thus fight with each other for dominance.
There is no “central I”. No one self.
But there can be.
It is possible.
The first step to creating this “central I” is to wake up and see our self-delusions. How we go through life kidding ourselves. Living a lie. And justifying our actions with falsehoods.
For example, we not only create fantasies in our minds to deal with the reality around us, but we also lie to ourselves in order to feel like we are a good person (or make others think we are).
In a sense, being a good or bad person is irrelevant…
It’s more about being truthful with ourselves. For example, when we see starving children on TV in the developing world, we might shed tears or talk emotionally about it to our spouse or friends in order to look like we actually care.
Some of us may well care. But most of us probably don’t. It’s TV. It looks like a movie. You don’t know these children; you aren’t there in the far-flung country ridden with famine. TV is a vicarious experience. It’s not the real thing. The map is not the territory.
Nevertheless you put on a pretense of emotion in order to appear like a good person.
Going over to the famine-ridden country would likely be a different matter. You would be confronting reality head on and would deal with it accordingly. Your emotional reaction would be truthful.
In a relationship, you may pretend you love somebody, when in truth you want companionship; you don’t want to be alone. You find them attractive enough and reasonable company. But if you faced the truth, you might find that you don’t love that person; you really just want a friend and don’t want to be alone.
Being alone, of course, can be very frightening for us humans as it forces us to confront ourselves and those pesky demons that live within. It’s certainly harder to avoid them when you are alone.
This may be why many mystics have sought out the wilderness for weeks on end, or longer. It is a way of going deep within and facing the emotional and psychological drives which control us – a way of exorcising those “demons”, or at least, recognizing for what they are, and not allowing them too much dominance.
But the mystic, of course, knows the path he needs to tread. Often it is mapped our for him by the monastery he belongs too. Whereas we in everyday western culture have no roadmap; no idea how to wake up and make our lives more meaningful and real. What’s more, in modern culture there are endless distractions that lead to us completely forgetting ourselves and becoming like robots – literally letting our “demon” programmers take the helm, throwing us hither and thither at every impulse or urge that comes upon us.
So what is the solution?
The first thing is to remember yourself. You might be thinking, I haven’t forgotten myself! I’m here now! To that I would say, no you’re not. You’re not here at all. You are living in a daydream. You are fast asleep and oblivious to what’s going on inside you or around you. You are a machine that does nothing more than react emotionally to the world and people around you.
To remember yourself involves waking up from that daydream and to stop reacting to the emotional rollercoaster that is your life.
There are may ways to do this; no one way is right. You use whatever works at the time.
What you might do is focus your awareness on your body, noticing your legs when you walk, paying attention to the rise and fall of your chest as you breathe. When you wash dishes, pay attention to it; do it properly, don’t drift off into fantasies or memories. Focus on the dishes. Do a good job of cleaning them.
At the same time, give some of your focus to the reality around you. Be aware of the room you’re in, the street you’re walking down. Observe everything around you, while at the same time keeping some attention on your body.
Mostly, you will find yourself very quickly drifting back into daydreaming. You will be fast asleep again before you know it. Snoozing your way through your life like you always did. Sometimes this waking sleep will last a few hours, two weeks, or months on end, before you wake up again.
This is the way with the path I’m describing. It is no easy road…
Don’t beat yourself up about it. Keep going. When you wake up, make the most of it and try to stay awake again.
With remembering yourself, you will become very aware of how your internal dialogue (thinking patterns) impacts your life and dictates your behavior and actions. It is mostly your internal dialogue that sends you to sleep. You think in words all the time. The incessant chatter in your mind won’t seem to stop. Telling it to shut the hell up usually doesn’t work – you just end up thinking some more!
The idea at this point, is not to force the issue; just to observe and notice your thinking patterns and inner chatter. The more you remember yourself and focus your attention on your body and the world around you, the more your inner-chatter will subside.
In associating with people – such as family and friends, work colleagues, and even people you don’t like – you’ll find that remembering yourself and observing the world around you, will make these dealings a lot better and calmer. You won’t react emotionally to them as often, but you’ll see them reacting emotionally all the time. You’ll see that they aren’t in control at all. There is no “central I”. They are at the behest of every last emotion and impulse that comes upon them.
You’ll be far less impacted if people are unreasonable with you, or try to manipulate you, or make you feel guilty. You’ll simply observe and be unmoved by it. And if you do react, it will be in a controlled and reasoned manner. You won’t get het up at all.
All that said, this takes work…
There will be many times you completely lose it and become consumed with emotions and rampant internal dialogue – put metaphorically your demons will jump right out and gain control of your system.
But again, don’t beat yourself up. Once you wake up again, get back on the path and keep trying. Eventually you’ll see all the lies you’re living. You’ll forgive yourself for it because, after all, this self-delusion was no more than a waking dream. But more importantly, you’ll be able to recognize when you are lying to yourself. In many ways, that is enough in itself.
You might even chuckle, thinking to yourself:
“I’m kidding myself here. But it’s okay, I’m aware of it and I can see the reality around me and can deal with it appropriately, rather than scuttling down the rabbit hole and retreating into a world of delusion and depression and feeling lost. If reality is sometimes hard, so be it. I will accept it and deal with it. And I will relish and savor those times when I feel at one with myself and my place in the universe.”