It’s that time of year again, and shadowy symbolism abounds.
As usual, it comes as a bit of a relief, like the changing of seasons or a rainy day when all we’ve had is sun.
This is the time of year monsters, gore and fright are collectively and playfully pondered. American schoolchildren are creating Dia de los Muertos altars to honor the dearly departed and Halloween décor is popping up in churches. Celebrations to showcase our shadow sides and alter egos are becoming more popular and are giving rise to increasingly fantastical displays of creativity.
Bringing playfulness to the frightful and grotesque is good for the psyche. The same way a well-timed joke can transform the mood around a difficult situation, we can transmute darkness into light and neutralize it by embracing it.
Denial, control and avoidance of the dark only feed it. Disregarding and demonizing the dark is downright dangerous and can turn anyone into an emotional monster.
Occur as: Seductive.
Vampires suck the life out of their victims and drain their emotional energy. Some could be classified as narcissists or addicts, because their sustenance comes from an unsustainable source. Vampires can be highly charismatic as well as manipulative.
Big appetite and desires.
Exhibit self-obsessive behavior.
Lack empathy for others.
Remedy: Develop compassion for self and other.
Mantra: I easily meet my own needs.
Occur as: Tuned out.
Weapon: Mind-Numbing Hopelessness.
In the presence of an emotional Zombie, we find ourselves in a nebulous cloud of negativity. We may wonder if they have emotions at all. Oftentimes, Zombies have suffered a crippling disappointment or have had their boundaries crossed one too many times. To protect themselves, these individuals shut down their emotional system entirely.
Exhausted and overwhelmed.
Their loved ones beg for their attention or presence.
Numb, resigned or distracted.
Remedy: Feel the emotions being resisted. Emotional flow restores life!
Mantra: It is safe to feel and heal.
Occur as: Needy.
Weapon: Guilt and Blame.
Obsessive past-based thinkers, they won’t let go and move on because they have a deep sense that something isn’t as it should be. They haunt their own lives (and sometimes other people’s lives) with imbalanced nostalgia or regret. (Hungry Ghost is a term used by some Buddhist traditions to describe an individual driven by intense emotional needs. Some Taoist traditions propose that hungry ghosts can arise from individuals who experienced a shocking death.)
Live in the past.
Many are struggling with grief.
Yearning and lonely.
Remedy: Feel and heal the emotional issues around attachment.
Mantra: Embracing the present gives me access to the happiness I seek.
Don’t feed the Monsters.
When encountering an emotional “monster,” our first job is to get clear about the dynamic.
Most monster behavior involves a high degree of self-focus and an uneven energy exchange. If someone is in monster-mode, they hold onto energy instead of giving it back. They may even resort to creating emergencies in order to “feed.” Most victims allow themselves to be fed upon because they believe it’s “helping” the monster.
Decipher the difference between helping and enabling. Monsters can hook us in and use us like a battery unless we unplug them. Strengthen the solar plexus charka and create appropriate boundaries. Many times the most helpful thing we can do for our monster is to say no (or “hell no”) and take space.
Feeding monsters (i.e. enabling them) is not love. We may want to give help more than they want to receive it.
This is often the result of their complete identification with a limiting belief. (“I can’t trust anyone” or “Nobody loves me,” for example.) Some monsters will defend their limiting beliefs to the death.
Feel and heal the emotional issues that led us into codependent (painful and addictive) relationships. We attract the perfect monsters into our lives that are capable of activating our particular childhood wounds, such as abandonment, shame or guilt. When this happens and we recognize it, it’s an otherworldly opportunity for growth!
When we are in monster-mode, It’s best to maintain a safe distance from possible victims. Engaging will only harm our relationships.
It helps to find a safe way to feel, express and channel our emotions and play with our shadow. Pull out that Stephen King novel, have a scream into a pillow or visit a haunted house.
The ultimate goal is to embrace and integrate challenging aspects of ourselves—and maybe even have a good time doing it!
Author: April Norris
Editor: Toby Israel
Photo: Tom Haex/Flickr