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?