Have you heard that Rhianna and Eminem song that came out a few years ago about being “friends with the voices inside of my head” and “get along with the monster that’s under my bed”…or something like that? Well, as I prepare for Halloween, and all the fun of embracing spooky costumes, scary movies, and haunted houses, it got me thinking about the actual stuff we all hold inside that we’re afraid of. The real monsters under the bed that we’re deathly afraid to look at, much less, embrace and invite into the light of day. It takes serious courage to stop distracting ourselves with our drugs of choice, and face our fears.
It’s interesting to me how true the saying “what we resist, persists” is, and how it plays out in life. The more we look for distractions to avoid painful feelings, memories, or fears of the future, the more intense the pain and fears become. When I was a kid, I was a HUGE scaredy cat…and highly anxious about all kinds of things. At night, I remember scaring myself and ruminating on what horrifying creatures surely came alive at night and lived in my closet. The more I thought about it, the more frozen I became under the covers…until I couldn’t stand it anymore and I’d turn on the light by my bed. Just shedding light on the room usually helped me breathe a little easier. Then I’d sometimes work up the courage to get up and actually look in the closet to indulge my fearful mind, and of course, there was nothing dangerous in there aside from an overgrown dust bunny or two. Getting up, shedding light, and looking at what I built up in my head as a looming source of terror always set my mind at ease…well, sometimes I needed a second opinion from mom and dad, but generally, my mind would settle down at that point.
As adults, we carry with us a heavy burden of inaccurate, self-defeating beliefs, which manifest into secrets which must never be told or discovered by those around us. We give them so much power! We are absolutely terrified other people will discover how truly incompetent, embarrassing, or down-right depraved we are, and then run away horrified by our existence...or maybe that’s just me! But assuming this is more of a global, human issue, I’ll continue exploring this idea with you for a moment. These are the real-life skeletons and monsters we work so hard to keep hidden; and the more energy we spend trying to repress, suppress, avoid, and squash these shadows of ourselves into a box in the corner of our minds, lock it and throw away the key, the more they demand to be heard. The louder those irritating thoughts and feelings howl in the night and threaten to make themselves known. Isn’t that annoyingly interesting? It’s almost enough to make you want to soul-search a bit and be curious about what the hell the racket is all about. But I totally get how it’s much more comfortable and safe to maintain the familiar level of anxiety and unease of not looking directly into the eyes of our proverbial monsters, and stay frozen under the covers, or continue binging on Netflix or Ben & Jerry’s…until you just can’t stand it anymore.
When and if you choose to bite the bullet, turn on the light, and dare to face the monster under the bed, it will be interesting to see if the source of your turmoil really is that gruesome and terrifying, or if it’s more like the Wizard of Oz. Remember when Dorothy musters up the courage to face the great and powerful Wizard of Oz, and then she discovers he’s really just this puny little old guy with white hair and a bow-tie hiding behind a curtain? It just goes to show, we decide how much power we give our fears, and when we say “enough is enough” and look them in the face, we take back our power. So, as you go out into the world, and those nagging little doubts and fears creep in, remember you can always pull back the curtain, turn on the light, and see them for what they are – just puny little thoughts, dust bunnies, and old guys in silly outfits.
Written by Stephanie Trueblood, LPC-Intern
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