What are Inner Demons?
Inner Demons may be categorised as internal negative forces or conflicts. They show up as undermining thoughts, self criticisms or limiting beliefs that are holding us back. An inner demon may tell us we are not good enough to obtain our goals. They may urge us to drink, gamble or act out in rage. However, it is important to know that with the right tools they can be tamed.
If you’ve ever struggled with the choice between ordering a healthy option for dinner or something deep fried, or keeping to a resolution not to use alcohol or drugs, then you would be familiar with an inner demon. If you find that these internal conflicts are taking place frequently and/or you are making the self limiting choices more frequently, it is worth taking the time to understand where they come from and how to manage them.
Where do Inner Demons come from?
Inner demons can be formed by consistent patterns of negative self talk or from core beliefs. Core beliefs may be formed at a young age. They are shaped by life experiences and things we have been told. In such cases, experiences that are consistent with our core beliefs reinforce them. An example would be if you worry you are not good at giving presentations, you may only focus on the small things you did wrong, not the ten you did right. This focus on the negative may serve to reinforce the belief that it is something you are not good at.
Inner Demons can also be thought of as negative recurring voices, memories or Images. They may remind you of past failures or shames; they may reinforce messages such as ‘you are not good enough’ or ‘you are not loveable’; they may be present when we are trying to make a decision about a course of action; or, in the cases of OCD, they may show up as obsessive thoughts that can only be temporarily calmed through compulsive behaviours.
How to Battle Inner Demons:
There are a number of psychological approaches used to banish inner demons. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy aims to identify negative automatic thoughts and core beliefs. Once the beliefs are identified, evidence is found to support or disprove the thought, it is replaced with a new adaptive thought.
For example, if you grew up with neglectful parents your negative thought/inner demon may tell you that you don’t matter; or if you have experienced a series of romantic rejections your inner demon may tell you that you are not loveable. CBT aims to identify and reframe these beliefs.
Schema therapy is another type of therapy that can help identify core beliefs, or schemas, to target. The important thing to know is that we can’t shut our inner demons down, or ignore them. If we aim to understand them and address them we have a better chance of ridding our lives of their influence.