On Monsters

We all have monsters. The part of your brain that yells at you when you are being “lazy” or reminds you how much smarter everyone else is , or calls your ideas stupid before they’ve had a chance to stretch their legs? That’s all monster talk.

I’ve been working on getting to know my monsters, even though I was sure they were too mean to talk to or even really look at.

So, when my friend Willie offered to draw my scariest monster with a box so I could put her away to get work done, that seemed like a really good idea.

My monster portrait came on Sunday. That’s her right there. As soon as I saw her little face my whole attitude toward her changed. I was expecting a mean, scary monster that I would be a little afraid to talk to and that I would want to keep in her box most of the time.  You can imagine how surprised I was to find that my monster wasn’t mean and scary at all. She was little, sad and afraid.

Little, Sad and Afraid

This was a huge paradigm shift for me.  Here sits my deepest fear, the thing that most often gets in the way of my best work, strong relationships and asking for what I need.  That monster is not something to fight, overcome or kill but rather a part of me that remembers past hurts as if they were yesterday and doesn’t want the two of us to be hurt like that again.

The most powerful part of the shift is, as an adult, a sad little monster is something I can deal with.  I know things that she doesn’t know and am confident I can give her what she needs to feel secure.

Seeing her real face also helps me understand other people’s monsters.  It’s so easy to believe the worst of people.  Especially when we are working so hard to make a difference in the world, and they can’t seem to be bothered to help.

But what if most people aren’t mean on purpose?  What if most people say hurtful things, fail to follow through on commitments,  or generally let us down not out of malice or callousness or just plain rudeness, but because they too have monsters who are little, sad and afraid?

How might we treat them differently? How might we work together to help all of our monsters feel a little safer in the world?

20 thoughts on “On Monsters

  1. Maureen! What a truly fabulous, authentic and brave post! A wonderful reminder of what our own monsters look like — and that we all have a monster or two that needs to feel secure. A perfect way to start my week. Thank you.

  2. Wow, that is a powerful experience. Interesting, I think Willie captured the essence of monster, because it tapped right into a heart space for me too.

    Great reminder that we are all traveling along this road of life, just a bit scared, doing the best we can.

  3. Kyool to know I’m not the only one inspired to write about my monster-gift. (http://www.anencouragingbird.com/2010/06/07/you-want-fries-with-that/)

    And you’re right – once given, they are not the big, bad monsters you thought they were after all. They really are out to help you, they’re just young-in-mind and don’t know how to help properly yet.

    I’ve heard from several places, Jacob included, that you ideally ‘parent’ your monsters – acknowledge them & their efforts to help, then give them a job to do that fits in with where you are NOW & is really helpful. It’s amazing how useful the results can be.

    And thank you for the reminder to do just that – I really needed that today.

  4. Wow, if I could envision my monsters like that sad, scared little bit of cuteness that I just want to hug till all of the fear goes away…….

    This is a very powerful post, Maureen. Thanks so much for sharing your monster with us. And for teaching us how to take better care of our own monsters.

  5. Cute monster!

    You’re right though, sometimes treating people who are negative towards us with a bit more compassion is a great way to diffuse their ability to affect us.

    It’s easy to forget that other people have grown up with a completely different range of experiences to us and had we lived their lives, we might be exactly the same.

    And it’s our experiences that create our own little monsters. They are a part of us and like you say, maybe they just need a bit more understanding rather than fighting.

    Great post Maureen. 🙂

  6. She is amazingly cute. But I gotta tell you, before Willie drew her for me it did not seem possible that she was cute and sad. I never looked at her too closely, but I always assumed she was very prickly and mean–really, really mean. I was happy to discover there was another way to see her.

  7. […] Julia Cameron writes about the inner censor as a mean, nasty voice that needs to be torn out.  If that metaphor works for you, skip on to the next heading.  If, however, your inner censor feels like too big a part of you to ignore completely, or if the idea of tearing out part of who you are is jarring, it might help to think of your inner censor as a monster who is little, sad, and afraid. […]

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