The Devil has always had a presence in our culture. However, right at the outset, let me say that I am not a believer in ‘The Devil’. But the image/motif of the Devil does stand for the epitome of the opposite of what we would wish for our lives and the world. I think that The Devil and the potential evil associated with it provide a short hand way to talk about horrible things. He is the anti-matter to our matter.
Hollywood plays its part of course by always throwing up devil-like characters who want to destroy the world as we know it and enslave humans. This all helps to keep the motif alive. There is always a need to have an opposite that we can see. We are all prone to thinking of things in a black or white way. Sure it’s unhelpful and inaccurate thinking but it is highly prevalent. If you experience depression or anxiety then you do it for sure! Well The Devil serves the same function when we try to think about what is good or truly human. Because he is the opposite of these things it makes it easier to define what we like and want by also defining what we don’t like and don’t want. The reality of course, is always that things are more complex and confused than the clear and simple two polarities of God or The Devil.
The Devil wants you to doubt yourself
I think The Devil, as an individual, has become something of a caricature of himself in modern times in some of the western world at least, and yet I often speak about him when I am working as a therapist.This is what I say. The Devil wants you to doubt yourself; he wants you to feel dis-empowered and disenchanted. The Devil wants you to feel fearful and apprehensive, to pull away from challenges and to play it safe with the options that fail to fully satisfy you. I think this looks a lot like the experience of depression and anxiety.
Alternatively, God wants you to be happy and fulfilled. She (I changed the traditional sex of God to satisfy the polarity view) wants you to be accepting of yourself, owning and acknowledging your own personal value. God wants you to strive to be the best version of yourself you can be and to treat yourself and others well. This seems to be a model for good mental health.
You lie to yourself a lot of the time
I am definitely not advocating that we now believe in The Devil or God, although you may do so. Rather I use The Devil to define a process whereby lies and deceit come to take over your well being and you become vulnerable to low mood and anxiety.
The Devil of which I speak is not an external deity or being. He (the process) is within you. You create the lies and deceit that ruins your experience. But you also have with it within you to be ‘god-like’ and to challenge the work of your devil and to live the life you want for yourself and to be a positive force in your family, community or even country.
I meet so many people who make decisions that have a tremendous impact on their lives based on fear criteria. When you make a choice because you are frightened of what might happen then you are listening to The Devil…’what if I can’t do it’…’what if no one likes me’…’what if something terrible happens to them’ ? This is to be anxious and to accept that your anxious view of the world is accurate.
I am not enough as I am
‘I’m not good enough’…’I have a problem and can’t cope with it’…’I am helpless to make any changes’! These are expressions used by The Devil telling you to be depressed.
So we might conclude that the Devils’ secret password is something like: ‘I am not enough as I am’. If you recognise that you have been using the secret password to allow the influence of negative self destructive and unhelpful feelings to take root within you then now is a good time to change that.
The power of practice
If you want to get good at something you have to practice. I say this so often it is almost like my motto. So have you practiced using The Devil’s secret password? Has it become so practiced it is now habitual? If you have that has to stop. It never leads to anything good.
How to break a habit
To break a habit first you must become aware of it. Let’s set up an activity where you start to recognise when you punch in the secret password. And in that moment of awareness you can exercise a choice. Go ahead put in the password and feel bad, or don’t put in the password and feel the beginning of a little more control in your life. Remember The Devil wants you to be helpless and miserable. Why not choose something else for your life?
At first just practicing the recognition of when you are tempted to put in the secret password is sufficient to give you a feeling of more control through more choice. Allow yourself a week or so of doing this. It’s not much time in the grand scheme of things but in terms of changing your life it is a good chunk of time doing something different.
In another post I will give you the step by step recipe for taking your new awareness and turning it into something powerful to help you feel a lot better.
Please share this material with someone you think might benefit from it.
Please don’t take me to task on theological grounds. I use The Devil and God as metaphors only here.