When we experience emotions, we react physically. It could be argued that the physical state of the emotion is the emotion, but I won’t get into that here. Here, I want to look at what can happen when an emotional state that we don’t like gets tied to physical feelings that we do like. This is one of the ways that our monsters feed, by creating a feedback loop that pushes us to seek out (or simply not suppress), emotional states that don’t benefit us. It could be that those emotional states hurt ourselves or others, physically or emotionally. It could just be that they don’t create anything positive in our lives, perhaps contributing to the kind of inertia that can prevent us from doing what we really want to do.
So, let’s look at a state of rage.
Rage can feel powerful. The adrenaline flows, and our perceptions of the world change with that chemical influence. We feel clarity in the height of the rage. Rage allows us to lash out physically and verbally. There is a power in letting go of civilized restraint.
What then, would be the responsible use of such power? A righteous rage could be posited. But that is not a monster. Because monsters don’t come when they’re needed or called. They are always there, and always looking to power up and take control.
Is it our responsibility as adults to master our monsters? I don’t feel like I should use the term adult here, because it is clear that many people do not control or even acknowledge their monsters, regardless of age or supposed status. Awake? Evolved? Both overused. To attain self-mastery? Feels a bit pretentious.
Let’s take a moment to work over some semantics. If one is unaware of their monsters, then they are Shadowed. An awareness of monsters brings one to the level of Caved. And that would make those who master their monsters Outsiders. This structure plays off of Plato’s cave analogy.
Then we move to, the responsibility of Outsiders is to master their monsters.
The responsibility of Cavers is to bring their monsters into awareness.
The Shadowed aren’t aware of any responsibility. They act without regard to that responsibility, allowing monsters to run rampant as they please, thinking that it is merely an expression of their own personality, rather than a monster. They tend to be entrenched with and possessive of their monsters, no matter how much pain they bring.
Are there people without monsters?
There could be. I won’t say no to this, but I think it would be a very uncommon life that would result in no monster formation. No twists in the perception of reality, no painful coping mechanisms caused by pain?
My husband told me about kicking the dog. Take the prototypical heteronormative family. Dad goes to work. Bossman yells at Dad. Dad can’t respond in kind to the bossman, so he goes home to yell at Mom. Mom can’t respond in kind to Dad, so she yells at Sonnyboy. Sonnyboy knows he can’t yell at Mom (tried that one before!), so he kicks the dog.
Each one is taking in pain and passing it on. Does that make them feel better? Short term, yes, in the immediacy of the action. After that, not so much, as passing on the pain does nothing to address the cause of the pain. Without awareness, the vicious cycle continues, generation after generation. The monsters hurt us at the same time that they convince us they are helping us. Because that’s the emotional pattern that we learned, imprinted from a young age, in this scenario.
Back to the rage. By itself, it is simply an emotional state. It can exist without being a monster. In such cases, it is an emotion that is entered with control and used. Released. No exaltation of the emotion. No reveling in the high of it. A tool in our box.
If your emotions are tools in your box that you use, then the monsters aren’t free to use you. Or use your tools.
Monsters are malformed emotional patterns. Emotional patterns that do not feel good/enjoyable, but that we “can’t” seem to avoid falling into. We fall into them because they are habits, and because we are unaware.
Is it the responsibility of Outsiders to help others to become aware of (their) monsters?
We hold onto monsters, keep them fed and sleek, because we feel that they are a part of us, an integral piece of our personality without which we would cease to be ourselves. So we suffer. We feed ourselves to our monsters and wonder why we’re so tired. We make the same mistakes over and over, because that’s what our monsters have convinced us is the only way. As long as we stay Shadowed, they are unobstructed. They thrive.
“That’s just the way I am.”
“That’s just the way they are.”
We infantilize others when we insist they cannot change. We infantilize ourselves when we insist we cannot change. Growth and change are fundamental parts of being human. We are born, we grow, we change, we acquire monsters and let them ruin our lives. Humanity!
Acting like there’s an expiration date on yourself (or others) for change, is a surefire way to never grow or learn again.
To cut yourself off from The Experience of being alive.
Monsters are a part of The Experience, but they limit us, by their nature. Monsters keep pulling us back to what we’ve done before, while there is so much more to The Experience, beyond the hamster wheels that the monsters want to run over and over again.