Fair warning:

This post is going to be a little bit weird–maybe a lot weird–depending on your perspective. I promise, that this really is useful to me, which is why I’m sharing it. Of course, it may, or may not be useful to you. Please take whatever you find useful and leave the rest.The foot of a Monster

One of the things that the amazing, wacky, and wonderful Havi Brooks has been talking about a lot lately on her blog, The Fluent Self is the idea of talking to monsters.

Monsters???

Don’t they just live under the bed? And didn’t we learn that they were real a long, long time ago?
Well, in my world the answers are no, and no.

Here’s the idea:

we all have stuff, particularly, the stuff that comes up when we think about doing things that feel really important, or things that we really really want to do. For instance, I wanted to write this blog post, and I hear this voice in my head which says “you can’t do that, it has nothing to do with any of the things your blog is about, everyone who reads your blog will hate it, if you write it you’ll never be able to have a presence on the Internet again.”
See, to me, that’s a monster talking, in fact, it’s one of my monsters.

The most important thing about monsters

Yes I know, a lot of people would just call this negative self talk, or any number of other things. I don’t know how to negotiate or talk to “negative self talk.” For me though, by calling it, and thinking of it as a monster, I can talk to it and figure out why it’s there, and what it wants.

Here’s the key

Every monster is there for a reason, and that reason is always, every time, without exception, positive. Every monster we have is there for a reason, to help us or protect us in some important way.
Now I know that may sound strange, that our monsters are there to help. It is however, true. You see, monsters are created by our past experiences, when I was a kid I had experiences of being teased and judged negatively. Out of that experience, was born a monster (probably more than one) who are looking out for situations that might cause people to tease or judge or otherwise think negatively of me. They are there to protect me from that bad experience.
But I’m different now, and the world is different now. I’m an adult, not a seven-year-old miserable on the playground. The thing is, often the monsters don’t realize the difference that makes.

Approaching my monsters

Now we get to the reason I really wanted to write this post. I’ve been talking to a lot of people about this lately on blogs, and various other places online. And I feel like there’s something missing from most of these discussions about talking to monsters that I found very useful in myself.

Thanking Your Monsters

When I go to talk to one of my monsters, I make a point to thank them, for what they’re doing for me. I say something like “thank you for being willing to talk to me, I know you’re here for really important reason. I know there’s something critical that you’re doing for me. Would you tell me what that is?”
My experience is, that this approach dramatically softens the situation, as you might imagine that it would in an interaction between two people. I’m recognizing that the monster is there for some important reason. Once I know what that reason is, I can learn about the monster’s worldview, and why he or she acts the way he or she does.
The more I understand that, the easier it is to get this monster to understand my view, and my perspective as an adult. I find, that this often dissolve resistance to change, almost like magic.
If you’d like to read more about this I’d recommend Havi’s Posts:
An example of one of her monster dialogues: Talking To The Book Monster
Also
and
Have you ever tried talking to monsters? Would you? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. However, please, don’t tell me I’m crazy (I already know that.) Also, please don’t tell me that I need therapy or that this doesn’t work (because for me it’s extremely powerful.) If you want to share an experience, whether it worked for you or not, please do–just don’t tell me that what I do doesn’t work for me. Thanks for being sensitive about this, my monsters appreciate it.
  • The first time I considered talking to one of my monsters I felt incredibly silly.Then I realized that was part of the point–silly takes the edge off of serious and scary and approaching these monsters from the silly relaxes me enough to get down to the bottom of things.

    • admin

      Such a great point – the bit of silliness in the process is useful. In fact a bit of silliness in many things is useful, at least as far as I’m concerned….

  • The first time I considered talking to one of my monsters I felt incredibly silly.Then I realized that was part of the point–silly takes the edge off of serious and scary and approaching these monsters from the silly relaxes me enough to get down to the bottom of things.

    • admin

      Such a great point – the bit of silliness in the process is useful. In fact a bit of silliness in many things is useful, at least as far as I’m concerned….

  • I think you may a great point about the monsters being there for protection. Wrong-headed protection, but protection nevertheless.

    Yikes, the playground! We did what we had to do at the time that seemed to work for us. I still carry around a lot of monsterly protection from those years of being judged, teased and rejected.

    So I think it is important to recognize that our minds are playing tricks on us and our feelings aren’t crazy–they just aren’t needed now and are getting in the way.

    Thanks for the great post!

    • admin

      Thanks for your comment Marie,

      I totally agree with you – I hope that in the future, we’ll look back on the tolerance schools have for teasing and bullying and see it as a dark age in our understanding of how to help kids grow into the best human beings they can be.

      Andy

  • I think you may a great point about the monsters being there for protection. Wrong-headed protection, but protection nevertheless.

    Yikes, the playground! We did what we had to do at the time that seemed to work for us. I still carry around a lot of monsterly protection from those years of being judged, teased and rejected.

    So I think it is important to recognize that our minds are playing tricks on us and our feelings aren’t crazy–they just aren’t needed now and are getting in the way.

    Thanks for the great post!

    • admin

      Thanks for your comment Marie,

      I totally agree with you – I hope that in the future, we’ll look back on the tolerance schools have for teasing and bullying and see it as a dark age in our understanding of how to help kids grow into the best human beings they can be.

      Andy

  • Ah Andy, good to see you are welcoming your monsters to the table. This work is so good because it’s fun as well as constructive. And in the act of giving your voices a name you can then encourage them to come together and be a part of who you are without criticism. And I too have a whole Fraggle Rock full of monsters that all go back to my time at school – although mine came out of high school instead. The point is you are doing the work. Better to know your monsters than to be in the dark without them. x

    • admin

      I suspect I have plenty of mosters from high school as well, I think many of us do… and it really is about integration for me, to accept the monsters and honor them as an important part of me allows me to be more and more a whole person.

  • Ah Andy, good to see you are welcoming your monsters to the table. This work is so good because it’s fun as well as constructive. And in the act of giving your voices a name you can then encourage them to come together and be a part of who you are without criticism. And I too have a whole Fraggle Rock full of monsters that all go back to my time at school – although mine came out of high school instead. The point is you are doing the work. Better to know your monsters than to be in the dark without them. x

    • admin

      I suspect I have plenty of mosters from high school as well, I think many of us do… and it really is about integration for me, to accept the monsters and honor them as an important part of me allows me to be more and more a whole person.

  • The first time I tried talking to something (monsters, what have you), I was reading a book about a Tibetan practice – as part of it, you dialogued with your fear to find out what it wanted and how it would feel if you gave it what it wanted. It was fascinating. You had to be you, then your fear – and when I was my fear, I got teary because I felt so misunderstood. I think of that when I’m getting upset at my monsters (which, of course, I still do).

    Funny .. I had read Havi’s posts on dialogues and never tried it until I read this book. I think sometimes I’m just not sure how I would go about having the conversation.

    • admin

      Hi Elizabeth,

      Thanks for your comment!
      It is really amazing when we let ourselves become the monster, or the fear or the wall or whatever and really get to feel how “they” feel in our bodies – so very powerful.

      Andy

  • The first time I tried talking to something (monsters, what have you), I was reading a book about a Tibetan practice – as part of it, you dialogued with your fear to find out what it wanted and how it would feel if you gave it what it wanted. It was fascinating. You had to be you, then your fear – and when I was my fear, I got teary because I felt so misunderstood. I think of that when I’m getting upset at my monsters (which, of course, I still do).

    Funny .. I had read Havi’s posts on dialogues and never tried it until I read this book. I think sometimes I’m just not sure how I would go about having the conversation.

    • admin

      Hi Elizabeth,

      Thanks for your comment!
      It is really amazing when we let ourselves become the monster, or the fear or the wall or whatever and really get to feel how “they” feel in our bodies – so very powerful.

      Andy

  • Hey, Andy!

    I love this! Open conversations with ourselves are so important. We all do it, whether consciously or not.

    In my case, I tend to employ this tecniqhe a lot with physical pain. Like, for example, I have a recurring pain right above my left shoulder blade, and I totally had a conversation with it. I wrote about it @ http://melodykiersz.wordpress.com/2010/06/05/a-conversation-with-my-left-shoulder/

    And I agree, it’s so important to thank our monsters!

    Actually, I gotta go. Must have a chat with my “I can’t believe you just shamelessly self-promoted!” monster right now.

    Ta-ta!

    Melody

    • admin

      Melody,

      It keeps amazing me what can happen when we allow ourselves to have open conversations with the parts of ourselves we need to talk to….

      Thanks for sharing your very cool post!

      Andy

    • Hiya, Melody!

      I am soooo going to try that, too! Thanks for sharing 🙂

      Bright Blessings!

  • Hey, Andy!

    I love this! Open conversations with ourselves are so important. We all do it, whether consciously or not.

    In my case, I tend to employ this tecniqhe a lot with physical pain. Like, for example, I have a recurring pain right above my left shoulder blade, and I totally had a conversation with it. I wrote about it @ http://melodykiersz.wordpress.com/2010/06/05/a-conversation-with-my-left-shoulder/

    And I agree, it’s so important to thank our monsters!

    Actually, I gotta go. Must have a chat with my “I can’t believe you just shamelessly self-promoted!” monster right now.

    Ta-ta!

    Melody

    • admin

      Melody,

      It keeps amazing me what can happen when we allow ourselves to have open conversations with the parts of ourselves we need to talk to….

      Thanks for sharing your very cool post!

      Andy

  • Hi Andy and all y’all!

    wow! yeah! “Talking to your Monsters” is really some powerful stuff. And I’ve gotta give you a share of the credit for helping me learn just how to do that!

    A whole stew-in-my-head of inputs, new and old, have gone into making this Banquet of Change I’m just sitting down to, in the past week, a most exhiliarating experience!

    I gave myself permission to actually ‘sit with’ my Inner Judge last Friday, and ask what, exactly “he” was afraid of and therefor trying to protect “me” from. I don’t remember that I got an answer in words, but the shift in my inner roadblocks has let me pick up some awesome tools that I’ve been letting rust in my mental in-box for nigh-on 40 years!

    • Hi Karen,

      I’m so glad you found this useful – It’s been a similarly powerful tool for me.

      Be well!

      Andy