You have one, or two, or ten. You may have confronted them or denied them, shared them or hidden them. The fact is: it is our demons that make us human. It is how we cope with them that defines our character. Some demons seem insurmountable and their weight is crushing, so we are amazed when we witness the rare individual who rises above his/her demons to find happiness; after all, happiness is the ultimate goal of this messy business we call life. It is the yard stick by which we measure our existence.
And just as we all carry around our personal torments, we all engage in negative self-talk. For those of us with addictions, mental illness, personality or mood disorders, or myriad other demons, the negativity is ever present. We convince ourselves that we are alone, different, misunderstood, unworthy of attention, affection, or forgiveness. We either withdraw from social interaction or overcompensate with odd behavior, producing awkward situations which serve to reinforce our negative self-talk, setting up an endless cycle of negativity and destructive behavior.
I’m not going to spill everything out here on the page. This is not the time nor the place. You’ve got your stuff and I’ve got mine. But I will tell you that those days, those good days, those days that keep me going until the next; Those are the days when I choose to be kind. Those are the days when I choose to laugh with my kids and to give them my time and my attention. Those are the days when I choose to listen, rather than speak. Choosing kindness, sharing, and empathy over anger, greed, and spite is difficult because it goes against our most basic survival instinct. It requires us to let down our guard and to suspend the notion of “looking after number one”. After a lifetime of guarded, defensive thinking, genuine kindness does not come easily or often. It takes a concerted, conscious effort, and practice; endless practice.
Thankfully, as I have aged, days of clarity and kindness come more often; not often enough, but often, nonetheless. In spite of our primitive, self-serving, reptilian coldness and cunning, we humans have transcended our inherited traits and surprisingly possess an almost magical tendency to reciprocate when shown forgiveness, love, and empathy. The kindness I give (on those good days) almost always returns, often magnified. Today, I gave time, attention, and tenderness to my kids and my wife, and in return I felt acceptance and belonging in their laughter and embraces.
I don’t know what mechanism differentiates the good days from the rest; perhaps I’ll never figure that part out. But if you are reading this, I wish you peace, clarity and happiness. These are my words of kindness. There are no demons here today.