Friday, February 26, 2016

Who Feeds Your Monsters?

There is a Native American parable about two wolves, asking which wolf is stronger. Which is stronger, fear or courage? The one you feed.

Our minds are virtual worlds we dwell within. On the outside there may be little or no sign of what is really going on in that inner world. There can be great beauty, serenity and healthy forests as well as vibrant gardens. There can be tome after tome of experience and knowledge that we've gathered. Our emotions dwell as ephemeral creatures there. Pure, incredible and each completely different. Elation moves like a feather on a gentle breeze becoming sometimes a leaping deer excited by the freedom to run or a pack of coyotes excited by the anticipation of a tasty meal. Not everything is tranquil. There are places it is better not to tread without the right gear.

There can be scars leaving vast deserts, dangerous shale cliffs that look impressive but may slide us back into scar country. There are monsters as well, darker emotions and thoughts that stalk beneath the sand and water of day to day waiting for the right moment to lash out and reopen wounds we've worked to heal. These monsters in your head are disheartening and exhausting to face. You do your best not to feed them, you build trust with others to let the light in, to weaken their influence through forgiveness, compassion, and love.

You do your best to be aware of them without triggering them, handling them like an old crate of dynamite which has come to life. Part of you feels shame that you can't simply get rid of the damn beasts. You think you've shooed them out, cried them out, fought them out, forgave them out but they spring back to life like a vampire in a B movie. You don't always know how they got there, you can't undo or unlive the scarring that drew them in to feed. You didn't know you were feeding them, until you got older and wiser.

You may have stopped feeding them.

Then they come back. Who is feeding the monsters in your head? It is important to be aware of who you allow in, who you allow to influence your heart, your mind and your body.

Often, without realizing it, people feed the monsters in each other's heads. Some people become living caricatures of their inner inner demons losing themselves rather than fighting. Others disconnect in various ways to maintain stability in their uncertain inner world.

Do your friends and loved ones communicate with you out of love? Do they honor you? What motivates the friendship you have, is it healthy or destructive? Is it real? Do they feed your monsters? Do they even know you well enough to know what you face? Do you know their monsters, do you help them resist and neutralize them or do you feed them?

Which wolf is stronger? The one you feed. The one that our perception of circumstances and the influence of verbal and nonverbal communication combine to feed.

Real, healthy friendships help us face these thoughts and feelings with compassion rather than recriminations or negativity. Believe me, we know how frustrating and disheartening it is to have them rear their heads. It's worse than peeing your pants as a small child in front of a group of people. Humiliation only feeds the monsters. If you want to help, to be a strong, healthy friend, be honest and aware. Be aware of body language, words, and of triggers. The most amazing thing you can do, feed our strengths, feed the thoughts and feelings that combat the monsters. Feed our love, self esteem, self worth, our trust. Affirm what is or what we can heal and grow into being.

The worst thing someone you trust can do is use your monsters for their own agenda or be insensitive to our struggles. Imagine being injured while the people you love and trust do not seem to notice. How would you feel?

Today, consider your friendships, consider the quality of relationship you have with those around you.

Are you feeding their monsters, are you manipulating them into a place where old behavior and thought patterns reemerge wreaking harm?

Are you feeding their inner hero and guardian? Are you planting seeds for a beautiful, healthy person tomorrow? There is nothing as powerful as a truly caring friend in that inner world.

Many people struggle with their monsters  inside without ever giving a word to those around them when they need support. They fight and feed, get exhausted then just feed the monsters in a spiral of self destructive judgements. Be aware, be attentive, and be forgiving, take the time- real friends are worth it.

Today, I ask, who feeds the monsters in your head? Communicate. Express how you feel and what you perceive. If you don't, your friends may not realize they fuel an inner hell. The hard part is, you care for friends and family but they may wound you deeper than anyone else because you open up to them, they may not even be aware of the damage they do- so caught up in their own day to day inner worlds.

Remember:

You are beautiful. You are strong. The past is past. You won before, you can again. Mistakes are accidents we can learn from. You CAN pick who you allow into your inner world, choose wisely.

Focus on how far you've come. Plan actions to heal you, reach out and do what brings a smile back. Even if it starts out weak and tentative. Find something to laugh about. Come up with your own inner mantra, words and images you can use to pick what your emotions feed. Forgive yourself. Get outside your head.