Find the demon.Posted: August 22, 2012
It’s not the torment of the flames
That finally see your flesh corrupted
It’s the small humiliations that your memory piles up
– Elvis Costello, “This Is Hell”
(Michael Montoure is a writer and spoken-word performer from the Pacific Northwest. I tumbled upon his works through Goodreads. Today this particular piece stopped me dead in my tracks. It’s from his essay entitled “Hack Yourself.” Take a look.)
Find the demon.
Do you know what I’m talking about? It’s the little voice in the back of your head that’s always whispering, “You can’t.”
You know the demon. You may think you hate the demon, but you don’t. You love it. You let it own you. You do everything it says. Every time there’s something you want, you consult the demon first, to see if it will say, “You can’t have that.”
What you don’t realize is that your demon doesn’t know anything. It’s an idiot. It’s nothing but a parrot, repeating back to you anything negative that it’s ever heard, anything that makes you hurt, makes you squirm. If a teacher once told you, “You’ll never accomplish anything,” it was listening; it hoards words like that and repeats them back to you to watch you jump. It doesn’t know what it’s saying. It doesn’t care.
Exorcise yourself. You can take me literally or not, as suits you. But do, please, the next time you hear that voice in your head, imagine it, visualize it, as something physical that you can get hold of; tear it out of you, feel its fingers weaken and lose their grip on your spine, and grind it to dust, to nothing, under your boot heel on your way out to dance in the streets.
You think you can’t; but it’s telling you that. You can.
+ + +
You don’t exist.
You just think you do.
We’re nothing but the stories we tell ourselves. We know in our hearts what kind of people we are, what we’re capable of, because we’ve told ourselves what kind of people we are. You’re a carefully-rehearsed list of weaknesses and strengths you’ve told yourself you have.
You owe no allegiance to that self-image if it harms you. If you don’t like the story your life has become – tell yourself a better one.
Think about the person you want to be and do what that person would do. Act the way that person would act.
Amazingly enough, once you start acting like that person, people will start treating you like that person.
And you’ll start to believe it. And then it will be true.
Welcome to your new self.