Inside all of us resides a beast.
Some may call it the dark side. Some of us may have more than one beast. There is always one alpha beast that controls the movements of the others. Often this alpha beast lurks quietly in the shadows of our subconscious. The beast will never go away no matter how we try to run from it, hide it, ignore it, or convince ourselves and others that it doesn’t even exist. The beast shows up when we are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired (HALT). It rears its ugly head when we face certain circumstances, events, people, places, or even a smell or a certain song. The beast is that thing that transforms us from Dr.Jekell to Mr.Hyde. People notice when the beast shows up because we are reactive or threatening, stressed out, emotional, or withdrawn into covert or openly destructive behavior. That might mean yelling, crying, withdrawing, drinking, doing drugs, binge eating, infidelity, compulsive shopping, gambling, or falling down some other rabbit hole of escapism such as video games, social media, or TV. It’s that part of you that you know deep down isn’t good for you. It might even be downright bad for you. And yet, you kind of like it. Or you like it a lot. You defend it. Or maybe you don’t like it, but can’t seem to stop it, control it, or let it go. The beast is unreasonable and relentless.
My beast is the beast poor of self-image.
She shows up when I am hungry, angry, lonely, and tired for certain. She has taken the form of eating disorders, addiction, and led me into dangerous relationships and a myriad of self-destructive behaviors. Years of talk therapy and a journey of personal development have helped me to make the beast my bitch in these 3 steps:
- Put the beast on a leash
- Put the beast in a cage
- Put the power of the beast to work
Because I realized along the way that the beast within me would never actually go away, I set to work putting it on a leash first.
Understand that this can be long, difficult, and frustrating work. Meeting yourself and your own demons can be one of the most frightening experiences you will ever face. It will also be the most rewarding. You see, just like any bully or scary bad-dream monster, all you have to do is summon the courage to stand up to it. As soon as you do this, it begins to back down. This takes confidence. You will need help with this if your beast feels out of control. If you try or have tried, to put the beast on a leash and fail, remember that it is common. You wouldn’t be this deep in self-destructive behavior if the beast weren’t super powerful. Also, remember that it’s actually not your fault. Whenever whatever happened in your past or your childhood to unleash the beast for the first time, you were too young or too weak or too unaware to even realize what was happening. You did what you had to do to survive at that moment. It’s ok. Start by forgiving yourself and forgiving anyone who hurt you. This is hard work, especially if you truly feel betrayed by someone. (Note: resentment fuels the beast.)
When I began to put the beast on a leash, it took a lot of talk therapy. It took a ton of self-help and personal development books. It took pages and pages of toxic journal entries trying to purge myself of the poison. If you can, seek out a professional right away. Having someone else’s perspective, especially a professional, will help you gain clarity. In all actuality, YOU are the only one who can make the beast your bitch. If you aren’t ready, or if you have financial or time constraints that are preventing you from seeking out a professional to help you with this first step, take the first step on your own right now today. Take out a piece of paper and begin to write. Write about anything at all. Let it all out. Don’t worry about proper grammar, making any sense, or trying to correct yourself. Just dump it all out on paper. The more you do this and the more often you do this, the more you will begin to see. You will begin to see what makes the beast tick. You’ll begin to see what it will take to get that leash around the beast’s neck and start the process of getting it under control. Go to Amazon or a bookstore or Audible and browse the self-help and personal development titles. Grab the one that resonates with you and start reading. There are thousands of good ones, and you’ll know the right one for you when you see it.
Challenge the beast in as many ways as you can.
Ask friends and family for help. Seek out free resources such as recovery groups in your area. Instead of being ashamed of your behavior, lean into it by asking: why is this here? What commonly triggers this behavior? What comes up for me when I engage in self-sabotaging behavior?
Have courage and know that this is the first step in what might potentially be a decades-long process of making the beast your bitch. It is a process that will leave you bloody at times (figuratively of course), but not broken. Every day you awaken with breath in your lungs is another chance at victory.
“Frame your thoughts like this— you are an old person, you won’t let yourself be enslaved by this any longer, no longer pulled like a puppet by every impulse, and you’ll stop complaining about your present fortune or dreading the future.” —Marcus Aurelius
Stay tuned for the next chapter when we take the next step: putting the beast in a cage.
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