Deusas: DeméterI have had a number of sessions and talked to other therapists about “feeding our demons,” a technique I described in my first post “How To Nurture Yourself.” The exercise wants us to get in touch with our innermost demons, describe exactly what they look and feel like, and find out what it is they need from us.

As soon as we attend to the needs of these disavowed parts of the self, the ghosts tend to loose their grip, and with some effort, even turn into an ally.

Very often, there is the need to be seen and heard. The demons are hopping mad about being overlooked, having to give up on desire, and feeling utterly overwhelmed. They show up in the form of mad dragons, crazy aliens and disheveled little dolls.

One category is what Tsultrim Allione describes as God-demons: fantasies of being rescued, of being loved and desired, of being freed from all difficulties if only we could have this job, that partner, or more money.

Many people are feeling that there is a deficit in their life. That they are being governed by a type of “hungry ghost” who is insatiable, greedy, never satisfied. Like the character Smeagol from “Lord of The Rings,” we keep desiring our “precious” that is to fill our void and give us love and power.

The trouble with those hopes is that they automatically come with fear: fear of losing a person’s love, of depending on the self esteem a certain job provides. In a way we are stuck in the hungry ghost spot even if we get what we want because the fear of loss is so great.

Feeding the demons means that we resort to our own strengths. We don’t look to others to give us what seems to lack, but we nurture those starved parts of the self by paying attention to them and treating them with kindness. The image of dissolving our bodies into a sweet nectar and feeding it to the demons is only a metaphor for our inherent ability to self-sooth.

So many of us are heavily invested in the God of love and desire. We believe that our lives would be in order if only we had the perfect partner. Of course it is challenging to feel lonely or to be with an abusive spouse, that is out of the question. But so often we are critical of our partners just because they aren’t perfect, and we fantasize that some idealized other would make our world complete.

That is the time to look into yourself and search for the God-demon who seems to promise the moon and the sun, while in reality it’s often just a romanticized version of the need to be seen or taken care of. As soon as the unreachable, unattainable God-demon turns into a creature of flesh and blood, s/he becomes a real ally we can truly relate to.

photo credit: Maísa Caldeira