140/365. The Demon Inside (and how I shot this)We all go through times when we feel low and depleted and there’s nobody there to comfort us. Or maybe there is somebody who  is usually available, but is exhausted and stressed out herself.

Sometimes the depletion is chronic and our psychological makeup resembles a bottomless pit of needs and wants, and no person, no situation is ever going to make up for the deep emptiness we feel.

Some people can get very clingy. They feel that their partner should make up for what might be rooted in a long history of deprivation and instability. Because it’s hard to trust, one or two people become the support system for an overwhelmed mind, and at the end of the day, there is not enough to give and never enough to be had.

Very often, symptoms like depression or anger are simply an expression of an underlying need that was never sufficiently attended to. The basic human desire to be loved and cared for is being buried under a layer of defensiveness and withdrawal.

I have been reading Tsultrim Allione’s book Feeding Your Demons1. It  describes a fascinating tool which helps us to resort to our own resources when our needs become too much to handle. The word demons is not to be taken literally, but it is rather meant as a metaphor for the feelings and memories that haunt us.

The technique she describes is based on inviting the feelings we’d rather get rid of in. If you are a jealous person, sit down with your jealousy. Give it a imaginative, “demon-like” persona. Maybe it’s an angry, powerful figure with groping hands and an insatiable appetite. Ask him what he wants. What he needs. And what would happen if he were to receive what he wanted.

Attending to the needs of our “demons” automatically makes them calmer. They turn from ugly, uncontrollable creatures into quiet, somewhat mellow and eventually supportive phenomena. If we pay enough attention, we can even make them into allies. The hyena of jealousy might turn into an elegant greyhound if we take enough time to try and understand what the need behind the possessiveness is.

And doesn’t the association with the image of the greyhound automatically give us a certain dignity and pride that leads us away from our neediness, and focuses our energy back onto the basic goodness of our nature?

All it takes is the courage to face what haunts us. In the end, we will come out all right.


photo credit: Anant N S (www.thelensor.tumblr.com)

  1. Tsultrim Allione (2008). Feeding Your Demons. Ancient Wisdom for Resolving Inner Conflict. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company. []