AHA! Humbug: How to debug your inner demons.

An inner demon is an inner demand that we act in a certain way.

Take the winter holidays, for example, beginning with the sugar high of Halloween and ending with the chocolate high of Single Awareness Day (February 14). The holidays crank up our inner demons, the inner demands that we make on ourselves to reach a spiritual high from retail overdose–too much candy, too much turkey and dressing, too much TV, too much football–and so it goes.  Hmmmm. There’s a bug in the system.

Inner demons are only stories we keep telling ourselves. The more I tell the story, the more it become true, the more the Universe makes it true by bringing it into my experience. Change the story by doing something different.

Scrooge is right: HallowThanksMasBowlVentine is mostly humbug. Sparkly lights, shiny ribbons, and maudlin elevator music encourage people to overspend their income and their emotional reserves in search of an illusion. They yearn for frozen precipitation based on a top-40 song from a low budget musical from the 40’s, and ignore the damage they do to themselves with poor nutrition and unrealistic expectations.

Scrooge gives up the rage against Christmas in the face of death, opening his heart to excise the loneliness so well-motivated in the past. He is willing to change his story, once he is very clear on what the end will be, both for him and Tiny Tim. He chooses to be happy, and the “demon” spirits that he fears leave him alone. He changes his actions to tell a new story about who he is. He gives up the old story and tells a new one.

For some people it’s a heart attack; for others it takes cancer, but few are willing to change without hitting a bottom of some sort–a self-spanking, if you will. For we all bring it on ourselves.

Changing the story means giving up the excuse of “That’s just how I am.” It means making a different response to the same stimulus. It means doing one thing different, taking one action that does not complete the story in the usual way. It means twisting the plot by not doing the one thing I want to do so badly because that is what I have always done. It is transforming the role I have rehearsed in telling my story over and over.

It’s often hard to change the story, especially if someone else has a stake in your keeping it the same. Remember the news stories of the next to last week of December? All about how retail merchants might be in the black after all–save the economy with retail therapy. Damn the credit card bills: CHARGE!

How can the story be changed? Stop telling it. When the urge to say the words again comes up, resist. Talk about something else. Don’t use the story to build the emotion that will trigger the conditioned response, the inner demand, the inner demon.

When the story comes back, say to yourself, “AHA! Humbug!” and tell those inner demons where to go. Take a different action, and become the hero of a new story.

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3 Responses to AHA! Humbug: How to debug your inner demons.

  1. Barbara Nigg says:

    Charlotte – I always enjoy your writing, clear voice and UNcommon sense! I woke up this morning with the insight that all of those stories of myself, are just stories. That I can rewrite them by really becoming conscious of the daily patterns of my life. I believe that all that spending and hoopla traces back to a deep (but deeply diverted in modern times) need for beauty and above all sensuality. We are so shut off from our bodies – that the only sanctioned sensuality is an overdose of the meaningless. Thanks for this thought provoking post!

    • Good point about the disconnect from sensuality and our bodies. That’s what the sparklies are all about, and the sugar jones. We won’t let ourselves be our free spirited inner child, but we will spoil that child in ways that we would never spoil our own children. Definitely time to write a new story!

  2. Being a counselor myself, I appreciate your blog post. Thanks.