There are some days when the demons of self-doubt set up a howling screaming chorus in my head. If I turn my back on them and try to work, they do everything they can to convince me my efforts are futile. Everything I do or see becomes evidence of my failure as a human being. Dishes not done? Obviously I’m a slob who doesn’t know how to clean up or to teach her kids to clean up. Kids fighting or crying? My fault. I’m a bad parent. Breakfast? Don’t eat that, I’m fat enough already. I should eat mindfully, but I shouldn’t try to cook something healthy because I suck at cooking. Might as well embrace the fat and eat whatever is easiest. Try to write about self-doubt? All my words are stupid and no one will want to read them anyway. The demons use all the mean words and they never pull their punches.
When the demons get to howling it feels like I have no power to make them stop. That is a lie they’d like me to believe. The power I have, and that I must use even though it is hard, is to make sure that I don’t stop. I inch my way forward toward some goal, any of my goals. As I do, I hang tight to the hope that the demons will wear out and go back to whatever cave it is where they usually dwell. If I’m feeling up to it, sometimes I name the demons. Each one harps on a single message, a single fear. Sometimes by separating one from the pack I can see how ridiculous it is and it withers away. Other times I catch a demon and confront it with counter examples, things in my life which are evidence that the demon lies. Unfortunately it is hard to catch an individual when they’re all swarming at once.
Sometimes prayer vanquishes the howling mob. Other times prayer just gives me enough strength to keep inching forward. Both are answers to my need, though I naturally prefer the outcome that has “vanquishes” in it.
The one time when I can’t hear the demons is when I’m listening to someone else. Howard talks me through many things. Or I walk outside and visit with a neighbor. She can’t see the plague of negativity in my head, and for the span of time when we talk, I don’t hear it either. So I inch my way forward, pray, and seek out loving voices. Over time the demons will get tired. I can outlast them. I have before and I’ll do it again.
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