Exercising Demons

We all have demons. If you don’t think you do, you’re lying to yourself.

We all have character flaws that get the best of us, insecurities that rise to the surface at the most inopportune moments, memories or secrets that haunt us, or horrible life experiences that have shaped us.

I have plenty of these — self-doubt, obsession with perfection, fear of not being enough, addictions that rear their ugly heads more than I care to admit. Sometimes it’s a struggle to keep them at bay, and when the conscious part of my mind has them under control, my subconscious has a way of stirring the pot. Daydreams trip me up or my nights get peppered with dreams that turn into messes of reality and my biggest fears bound so tightly together I can’t tell which is which. My wife often says something like, “It must be rough inside that head of yours.” Sometimes it is.

I know this sounds like I’m a complete disaster most of the time. I’m really not, until I am… and this can happen at a moments notice. All that being said, I feel like I’m a relatively healthy individual. However, my mental health isn’t something that comes easily or naturally to me, and I’m convinced it’s that way for everyone. Those that seem to have it all together are either good at hiding the crazy or have been working hard at taking care of themselves for a long time.

No doubt, some readers read the title of this post and thought, “come on man, learn how to spell.” or “get your homonyms straight.” I didn’t misspell anything, I believe in putting my demons to work. It’s how I stay sane.

Regular physical exertion helps my mind stay clear. I use pent up negative energy, frustration, or anger to give me a little extra oomph. Oh, how I love the cathartic nature of exercise. And while I believe everyone should participate in some form of regular physical fitness because of both the psychological and physical benefits, it’s not the most important thing I do in wrestling with the devils that hang out on my shoulder.

Every day, I do some form of writing. On Mondays, I set aside a couple of hours to write, and the rest of the week, I take a few moments each day to write a few thoughts about whatever craziness happens to be hanging out with me for the day. Sometimes I write in a journal, others on my computer, and still others, on my phone. But I write, and in doing so, I see my demons in a new light, from a new perspective.

I have found that some of the writing I am most proud of focuses on the hard things in life, the pain I face, or the tough stuff that makes me who I am. When I write about something I’m dealing with, I face it. There is no running and hiding from my thoughts and feelings. My demons go to work for me. I figure if they aren’t going anywhere, why not make something of them.

Now, I haven’t always written daily, but since I started, I’m a lot happier. This is because I am spending my time focused on the things I struggle with and how to be a better person despite those struggles rather than wasting my time on what I think other peoples struggles are and telling them how they should deal with theirs.

I believe that if we spent more time exercising our demons and less time pointing out everyone else’s, many of us would be a lot happier.