There’s a cave within each of us that we fear to enter. This proverbial cave is hardwired in our psyche and is filled with traits, feelings, and experiences we are ashamed of, don’t understand, and frequently disown. Together, they form unconscious beliefs, habits, and attitudes that direct our life, often without us even realizing.
Your conscious beliefs–the things you write down or share with others–are only a part of the equation. Unless you face, understand, and integrate what’s unconscious, you will continue to fall short of your dreams, limit your potential, and even become your worst enemy.
This cave began forming early in your life.
Maybe you had a rough childhood, felt “weird” or inadequate, were bullied, or experienced a lack or rejection in some form (most of us do). You responded to these events by coping, internalizing, and sometimes acting out. This served an evolutionary purpose.
As you grew up, these responses morphed into beliefs about yourself and others, rendering certain parts of who you are as inadequate or unacceptable. These are your perceived flaws, tribulations, personality traits.
You and I will refer to these as “your monsters”.
Due to their uncomfortable nature, your brain relegated them to the deepest parts of your unconsciousness. But make no mistake: they’ve been directing your life all along–usually keeping you stuck in the fear, self-doubt, and replication of past experiences. And they’ll keep doing so until you face them.
Thankfully, there’s a way to do it!
Shine the light on your monsters
Monsters require one thing in order to thrive. To remain hidden, in the dark, away from your awareness.
They rejoice when they aren’t seen.
Pushing them down, ignoring or denying their existence only gives them more power.
Like a kid who’s scared of a monster under the bed, seeing is the only way of believing that there’s actually nothing to be afraid of.
“Shining light” on your monsters let’s you see them for what they really are.
Let’s try it:
What are some of your monsters?
Write down as many as you can or feel comfortable to share with yourself.
Some example could be: “The reason I keep chasing wrong relationships is because I am afraid I am actually not lovable,” or “I don’t find meaning in my work, because I never wanted this, but I did it because I felt I had to,” or “I feel lethargic and depressed, because the narrative in my childhood taught me that I am not deserving of authentic happiness, so I am stuck going through the motions,” or “I keep self-sabotaging because I am actually afraid of success.”
Writing your monsters down allows you to see them and own up to them.
Feeling uncomfortable yet? Good. It’s natural. Keep going!
Connect deeper with your monsters
Your next step is to understand your monsters.
- Where did they come from?
- What experience introduced them into your life?
- Did you, realistically, have any control over it?
- How did that circumstance, belief, or trait make you feel?
- What did they teach you to feel and believe about yourself or the world?
- What decisions have you made or what situations have you found yourself in today that are driven by these beliefs?
Everything in our life has a purpose to advance our growth, and the same is true of our monsters. The key is to get curious about them, and ultimately ask ourselves:
Can I accept the monsters as something that had to be a part of my life’s journey and has a bigger purpose, perhaps one I can’t yet see?
For example, if you were bullied, you might be inclined to bully others OR you can use the painful lessons to stand up for those bullied. If you were disabled in some way, maybe that has taught you (or can teach you) compassion and understanding?
If you are struggling to answer these questions, it’s okay. Try working it out with a trusted friend, a therapist, or a coach.
The goal is to befriend these monsters, so you not only understand how you’ve been directed by them, but to flip them (and the beliefs they fueled) so they benefit you and your future.
You’ve now joined the ranks of only about 35% of humans who are capable of this type of courageous and deep reflection.
All of us have parts of ourselves we would rather not have, see, or admit. But whether we admit them or not, the truth doesn’t change. However, when we accept them and use them as guides, we free ourselves and let the best within us shine through.
The process can get messy and confusing, but the outcome is that you realize that your monsters are actually your biggest allies, not your enemies, for they contain the inspiration and wisdom to develop courage, strength, and empathy within you. This will lead to you becoming a better version of yourself — a self that is healed, integrated, and embraces life fully and authentically.