Do demons actually exist?
Yes, they do. The world is full of demons and they do not always look like the evil mythical creatures you see in Hollywood movies. Real demons are much scarier, because you can not just run away from them: they’re living in the darkest underworld of your own mind. In today’s post, I’ll write about the different faces of my personal demons: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
If you’re suffering from OCD, GAD or Panic Disorder, it’s very likely that you have already met your demon: a cruel monster who has millions of faces and who whispers terrifying things into your ears. And this demon has a much less dramatic name: Negative Self Talk.
It’s a perfectly natural and healthy thing to have an inner dialogue with yourself: and let’s be honest, self talk can not always be positive.
But if your inner voice is often (or always) negative, it will make your life a living hell. I’ve been suffering from OCD for a long time and one of the biggest challenges that I always face is fighting my negative inner voice.
What do you see when you’re in the dark and the demons come?
4 faces of our Personal Demons
Your inner demon has four different faces. Or maybe even more? Please do not hesitate to share your thoughts in the comment section! 🙂
One of the faces of your inner demon is the critic – and this monster loves telling you things like:
– you are a loser!
– you’re not good enough for your partner!
– and you’re worth nothing!
I guess the majority of people have similar thoughts from time to time, but if you’re suffering from nay kind of anxiety disorder, it’s much more likely that your negative self talk will get out of control. I’ve been single for a very long time and one of the reasons why I’ve not been able to find the love of my life is definitely “the critic”: how can you even go on a date if your inner demon keeps telling you that you’re nothing more than a loser and that nobody would ever fall in love with you?
While having an inner critic in your head will not give you OCD – as OCD is likely to be caused by a combination of different things (check this post for more details: http://over-coming-ocd.com/2019/12/23/why-do-i-have-ocd-causes-and-risks/) – but it will definitely worsen your anxiety and your symptoms.
How to fight the critic?
I will be honest with you: winning the war against the critic is not an easy thing to do. And it definitely takes a lot of time. One of my biggest mistakes of my OCD journey was that I used to believe I could cure my OCD overnight. Fighting your demons can take a long time, but believe me: it’s worth it!
I think the first step is to learn how to recognize the critic (I’ve already given a few examples above) and then, you can fight this demon by replacing your negative thoughts by positive ones. One of the things that actually works for me is asking the “so what?“question. So if the critic tells me that I’m a loser, I’ll just ask myself: So what? So what If I am a loser? I can be a happy loser, can I not?
And also, when I was a kid I used to think I was a prince, have these thoughts turned me into a prince? Unfortunately an answer is no. So if my critic tells me I’m a loser, It will not mean that I am one!
The “Anxious” demon
The Critic is an evil and cruel monster: it wants you to feel that you’re worth nothing. Now, the anxious demon is a little bit different from that: it’s not necessarily evil, it’s just annoying and it can turn your life into a living hell by asking you things like:
– what if I get a heart attack?
– what if I accidentally harm someone?
– what if I can never sleep again?
– what if people notice that I have a panic attack? They’ll think I’m totally crazy!
The anxious demon does not want to hurt your feelings. It just can not stop worrying over any single event in your life. This demon is as dangerous as the critic, and in my case, this is the one that is the most difficult to fight. For me, it’s always been easier to tell myself that I’m not a loser than convincing myself that the disaster I’m so scared of will not happen!
What can you do to get rid of the “anxious” demon?
I think the first step is learning how to make a difference between your rational and irrational thoughts. If you have way too many “what if” questions that’s very likely that your fears are not the most rational ones.
Another thing that worked for me is trying to agree with my thoughts: okay, I know it sounds pretty crazy but believe me, your anxious demon will always be able to come up with a new “what if” question and it’ll be a never ending story.
Want to read more about my fights with the Anxious Demon? Check:
In the prison of your own mind: Responsibility OCD
Set yourself free: How to break the vicious cycle?
OCD: Living a lie
I’m giving up! I can’t take this anymore! I’ll never be able to overcome my fears and I’ll never be able to change my life for the better. The Critic has already told me that I am worth nothing and I think it was right.
Sounds familiar? Guess many of us have similar thoughts, the problem is when these kind of thoughts take over your life.
I used to think I wasn’t strong enough to overcome my OCD but learning more about the behavior of the Victim demon helped me a lot.
What helped me:
Everyone’s different. Some people feel much better after reading inspirational quotes, others will find it helpful to think about all the amazing things they have achieved in their life. As for me, what truly helped me was being angry at my “victim” demon: so it tells me I’ll never get better, let me show this monster that I will!
I have to admit that I’ve always been a perfectionist. And this is one of the reasons why it’s been pretty challenging for me to recognize the little perfectionist demon that sits on my shoulder.
The critic wants to hurt your feelings and it wants you to believe that you’re pathetic. But then, apparently your perfectionist inner voice does not want to be mean to you. It just wants to remind you that you and your life must be a hundred percent perfect. You should do whatever it takes to look like a cover girl, you should be the most professional person on the planet and obviously you should achieve all of this on your own.
Being perfectionist is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can definitely make your anxiety worse. I’m sure you have already heard this a few times but: nobody is perfect and we should accept ourselves the way we are!
I do not want to lie to you: I have not been able to get rid of my “perfectionist demon” but one thing that helps me a lot is telling myself that there are a lot of people who love me: even though, I’m far from being perfect! 🙂
Fight your demons!
Negative Self Talk is a pretty complex topic and you can find a huge numbers of amazing articles about it on the internet – I’ll soon publish a post with the list of articles I’ve found particularly useful.
So even though, I haven’t been able to include every single piece of information about negative inner voice, I really hope this post will help some of you 🙂
And as you know there’s one thing that I love more than sharing my stories: reading yours. So please, share your story in the comment section!