“I will not say, do not weep, for not all tears are an evil.”
– Gandalf the Grey
We all – at some point – are damaged emotionally in our lives. Regardless of the extent of our personal trauma, we often hide from the negative emotions in our mind. Confronting these demons in your mind can not only be a pathway to healing and closure – it can be your advantage; A source of greatness.
Many ancient civilizations have a collection of myths, stories and beliefs about deamons. Whether they are called deamons, guardian angels, familiars, Genii, Jinns or Genius spirits, they all were described as personal tutelary deities. They individually were tied to a particular human and existed to bridge the gap between the divine and humankind in order to uplift the humans to a virtuous existence. They were neither good not evil, but a neutral entity whispering advice into the ear of the one it is guarding.
However, as human are, they were not always listened too. And so the deamons were forced to break the human ego through trickery and mischief – and force the human to listen to the wisdom of their advice. (This concept comes back in pretty much every cartoon, just think about the little demon and angel sitting on the shoulder!)
And over time, as civilization moved away from mysticism, spirituality and myths, some philosophers moved the idea of the deamon more and more towards psychology. Some philosophers, such as Heraclitus, even went so far as to believe that a person’s character itself is his personal guardian deamon.
In Jungian psychology, the deamon is referenced as the shadow of your character. It is the unconscious aspect of your personality that the conscious ego does not identify with. It is usually hidden – even towards yourself, because you might not agree with this part of your character. It is the personification of everything that a person refuses to acknowledge about himself.
Your shadow must not only be confronted and accepted as a real part of you, it must also be partially integrated into your personality – like a long-lost friend. Jung has even said that only when the shadow is present can there be room for creativity and love in a person.
Finding your shadow can be done through rigorous self-inspection or meditation, or you can watch your own behavior towards others. For it is the shadow side of our personality that is most vulnerable to projection upon others, where a person’s perceived inferiority is recognized as a perceived moral deficiency in someone else. What annoys or hurts you about others is very often present in your own shadow.
The modern day deamons that we carry with us – and often hide away in our shadow – are emotions like grief, sadness, anger and fear. And like the demons of old, they are neither good nor evil – and yet carry great wisdom and growth with them. The only requirement for receiving these lessons is to let go of your ego and listen.
And should you attempt to ignore these ‘deamons’ – they will break your ego through trickery. You will experience anxiety, depression and stress disorders until you face them and listen. It is, perhaps, the single largest personal mistake being made in modern times. We so often want to ignore our negative emotions and push them away, but they will materialize in your life in a different way. The emotion will quite literally stay stuck in your body and corrupt your life.
But we fail to realize that these deamons – as experienced through negative emotions – are your friend. Listening to their wisdom will bring you greatness. Denying the negative will slowly bring a sinister depolarization to your life, and over time transform it into a grey depression void without any energy.
Crossing the Abyss
There is great power, however, in choosing to confront the negative emotion.
Acknowledge it. Accept it. Wield it. Dance with it.
Leaning into a negative emotion dispels it and strips it of power. Whenever you feel sadness, for example, the sadness will stay in your unconscious mind and body and will linger there infinitely. It will build up strength until you cannot hold it anymore and are forced to break down in a hopeless heap, crying uncontrollably at an inopportune moment. Confronting it early can bring you the same life lessons and relief without the struggle.
And when you choose to deny fear you have, it will paralyze your life and stop you dead in your tracks. If you acknowledge it, feel it and accept it, you can then choose to ‘ignore’ it and go about your plans anyway.
Whenever you feel a negative emotion, take some time to confront it head on. Find the pain point in your mind and actively push into it. Don’t push it away. Massage it like you would a muscle knot. While doing so, talk to yourself in a positive, loving manner and allow yourself to feel whatever is in your shadow. Let the emotions burst like a dam. Be fully present in the darkness. Its painful but necessary. You will notice that it is this very confrontation that will paradoxically show you the light.
There is no other way to dispel a chronic trauma or phobia but to fully dive into the horror and dance with the demons inside. Fully engulf yourself into the shadowy thoughts and change the narrative to a positive outcome. In your mind you must hug your rapist, kiss the lifeless corpse of your loved one or shower yourself in giant spiders. To do this is scary and requires bravery. Do this physically with your loved ones, in therapy or with psychedelics if necessary, but you must do whatever it takes to travel through the abyss and reach the other side.
Diabolus in Musica
Integrating your shadow in this way will relief you of a massive burden and life will feel so much lighter and easier. It is the very contrast of the dark that brings out the light. Notice how it is often those that experienced hardships and come out on the other side that achieve the most in life. This is not a coincidence. All art is born from contrast. There can be no happiness without accepting the sadness. There can be no strength without weakness.
Negative emotions, in this way, can be used as a profound life force. It is a constant fuel that you can use in order to propel you forward in life. Carrying fear on your shoulder as a friend is growth. When you have to choose between two options, always choose the one that instills the most fear in you. When you experience a pinch of sadness, amplify it, mourn it, shed it and you will be overwhelmed with gratitude and joy. All of these negative emotions carry lessons for you to accept. You will grow and become a better person.
Over time, you will learn to associate these negative emotions with a positive outcome, and you will learn to embrace them as a friend. You even become thankful for all the hardships you had to endure in your life.
Now queue the music. Dance with your devil.