Embrace your demons.

Poet Kahlil Gibran once wrote, “If it is the despot you would dethrone, see first that his throne erected within is destroyed.” In my own experience, whatever I despised in another was, in reality, a reflection of something that was discreetly being repressed within myself.

So, I would point my silly finger at other people and think, “There’s the bad guy!” This mode of thinking made it much easier to assign responsibility for my lackluster experience of life to anyone other than myself. As a result, it appeared as though the entire world was always out to get me.

Even so, journeying along this path of ignorance would undoubtedly guide me toward the light. All it took was a shift in the way I perceived my inner demons.

And if there’s one thing experience has taught me, it’s that a devil is nothing more than an angel suffering from its own hunger and thirst. But that begs the question: What was I hungry for?

Looking back now, it’s plainly obvious how blaming others served as a kind of crutch. By focusing so much energy on finding fault with everyone else, I never took the initiative to truly get to know myself. After all, who has time to think about what they truly want out of life when everyone else is always holding them back? Enter the victim mentality.

Becoming a victim basically grants other people permission to make our choices for us. And the less we practice making our own choices, the less experience we’ll have with knowing what best suits our needs. Furthermore, as these needs remain unattended to, frustration begins building up inside of us.

What happens when you push an inflated ball beneath a body of water and then suddenly release it? It spontaneously rushes back towards the surface with the same amount of force that was exerted on it. The same principle applies whenever we neglect our desires in life.

Whatever gets repressed within us is inevitably going to resurface, but with a vengeance.

Likewise, every dream I either refused to acknowledge or deemed frivolous turned into repressed energy. Over time, my ability to keep these desires submerged lessened until eventually a wave of negativity would force its way back towards the surface. Then, in my ignorance, I would project this energy onto other people.

The good news is, this same anguish can serve as a kind of barometer. Its presence indicates that something vitally important to our well being isn’t getting enough of our attention. However, by taking the initiative to recognize these unfulfilled desires, we can finally give them their proper place in our lives.

I once hated seeing friend’s travel photos on social media and even felt justified in casting out judgement. How dare they rub their happiness in my face? Meanwhile, my own desire to see the world remained unsatisfied. But did I ever scope out the cost of a single airline ticket? Nope. And yet I had no problem spending money on filling my life up with stuff instead of experiences.

Then one day, I had the good fortune of crossing paths with an elderly gentleman who was visiting California from England. During our conversation, he explained how he and his wife once had plans to travel the world together but just could never get around to it. Something always seemed to get in the way.

Even when the last of their children finally left home, the house itself took up so much of their time with constant repairs and upkeep. But as they both entered into retirement age, it seemed as though their dream to travel the world would finally become realized. That is until his wife unexpectedly fell ill with a terminal disease and soon passed away.

Understandably so, he fell into a deep depression. Then one day a memory resurfaced from his childhood. It was a deep-seated longing to visit Angel Falls; the tallest waterfall in the world. Afterwards he concluded: “I can either shrivel up and die or finally live out a childhood dream.”

He then took out his passport and handed it to me. It was almost entirely filled up with stamps from practically every corner of the globe. While sifting through the pages, I noticed that the very first stamp was from Venezuela in South America — home to Angel Falls.

In that moment, I too concluded that my desire to travel the world was indeed a valid one, well worth exploring. The only demon standing in my way was me.

Nowadays, what were formerly thought to be my demons no longer pose a threat to the life I’ve always wanted to pursue. Instead, my desires ultimately lead me to the journey that’s presently unfolding before me. And though my passport isn’t entirely filled with stamps, it’s certainly well on its way.

As a result, I no longer feel compelled to cast out blame or judgement. Instead, I embrace. So, use caution when exorcising your demons. You just might be casting out the best thing in you.

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Author of “The Reward Of Not Knowing” | Travel Blogger

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