Battling Demons

I wish I was here to talk about something like playing Diablo II when I would just spend hours and hours working my way through dungeons as I try to get strong enough to defeat the actual devil…but no, I’m talking about the much less excited emotional demons.

I’m guessing we all have them. I know that everyone in my circles do. And especially when we’re in a period of mass confusion about the future, those demons can get stronger and stronger and sometimes it can feel impossibly difficult to find out how to get out from under them.

For a long time, I used to rely on my friends and family to help me with my demons, but when something like a pandemic rolls around and actually manages to separate you from your friends and family…well, those demons just find even more ways to get stronger.

I have plenty of demons. I have demons that tell me that no one likes me. I have demons that tell me I’ll never succeed in achieving my goals. I have demons who tell me how terrible of a parent/husband/friend/brother/son I am. I have demons who tell me I’m simply not doing enough. I have demons who tell me I should just up and quit everything I’m doing and hide in a ball in my basement until the second coming of Christ.

I have demons.

And they’re pretty damned terrible. (You see what I did there? Damned? Demons? No? My kids don’t like my jokes either…)

For years I tried to figure out how to silence my demons. For a while I medicated to try and silence my demons. I’ve even tried flat out ignoring my demons, but I’ve recently come to the realization that these demons simply don’t want to go anywhere.

And that really struck me hard.

Because, well, these demons kinda suck. I mean, how in the world can you ever do something when your brain tells you how much you suck at doing it the entire time you’re doing it. While I’m writing this article, my brain is telling me how much this is a pointless article and that I’ve used the word demon too many times already and I should just give up.

But that little devil (see, I found a different word there, you stupid demon!) isn’t just my insecurities stepping out into the light to let me know that I should never try anything. It’s also a part of my brain letting me know how I could be doing what I do better.

For a long time I allowed these little impish thoughts to control me, and because of that, I’ve pulled away from a lot of relationships and activities and numerous other things simply because I didn’t see myself as being good enough to be a part of any of it. It wasn’t until recently when I realized that I was viewing these inner critics the wrong way. Sure, I could see them as telling me where I had already failed or was going to fail. Or, I could see them as telling me how I could be doing better.

I’ve always been so darn ready to fail at everything I do that the second someone tells me how I’m doing something wrong, I’m immediately ready to believe them that I’ve failed, even if that someone is just me. But maybe I’m doing this demon thing wrong. Maybe they’re aren’t demons. Maybe they’re just little internal coaches trying to cheer me on by telling me I’m going the wrong way to get to the finish line and I should try this other thing. Maybe what I’m taking as being put down is really just helpful advice.

Maybe my demons aren’t demons at all.

Maybe I shouldn’t battle them. Maybe I should listen to them, take their advice, and somehow improve because of it. Maybe they’re not telling me I’m not good enough, maybe they’re trying to let me know what ways I could be doing things better.

And maybe I’m just so ready to fail at everything that I haven’t actually been listening to them at all.

Demons suck. I’ve allowed them to put me into the most depressive of bouts, causing me to think I don’t deserve anything good. As of late, I’ve been trying to put those demons to work. I’ve been listening to their critiques and forcing them to be more specific so I can use them to move forward.

They still suck, but they’ve ended up being a lot more helpful with that slight reframing of their message.

Published by Adam Oster, Adventure Novelist

Husband, Father, Creator/Destroyer of Worlds

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