I’m on a boat, steering towards my destination, and a bunch of demons on board are shrieking at me. If I steer away from where I want to go, they settle down, but if I return to my course, they start yelling again. Louder and louder, closer and closer to my ears.
This metaphor comes from Russ Harris, author of “The Happiness Trap,” a book about the field of acceptance and commitment therapy. He uses the demons to represent the self-sabotaging parts of ourselves. There are many metaphors like this, but I took a liking to this one. It’s easy to imagine myself at the rudder of the ship, trying hard to keep a firm grip and a focus on the horizon, while progressively larger and louder demons caper around and try to distract me.
His metaphor also has a very important detail: the demons can’t actually do anything. They don’t have the power to touch the boat’s controls, or touch me, or damage the boat, or anything else tangible. All they can do is scream.
Anyway, right now, they’re very loud for me. I am navigating some of the important pre-publishing milestones for my book, and the universe has challenged me with a severe back pain episode for the last week. As I shuffle and stagger around the house, the demons try to convince me that I shouldn’t work on anything. That this publishing thing is sure to go dreadfully wrong and who do I think I am to publish a book anyway, etc.
I am worried about my back, and the fact that I don’t know how long it will be before it improves. As a previous abuser of painkillers, pain is an emotional topic for me. The demons amplify that as they try to convince me I’ll be in pain forever and that I can’t be creative while in pain, therefore the writing part of my life is over…yeah, yeah, demons, I’ve heard it all. Still sailing though.