Good morning to you my fellow adventurers. Always a pleasure to connect with you. A while back I wrote a post about inviting your demons to tea and this is a little bit of a follow up.
It explores the antithesis of the visage of “inviting your demons to tea”. The imagery of inviting your demons to tea is a dainty, peaceful thing, but it does not start our that way. This is often a confusing concept in therapy. From the outside, therapy does not look nearly as painful as it can be. It looks more like a tea party (talking quietly with a therapist, laying on a couch, rationally analyzing a situation), than a fight for one’s life.
While we eventually can meet our pain with compassion and objectivity, we actually need to be a little irreverent. Let’s focus on the metaphor of the “bar brawl” that demons can cause. Bearing in mind of course, that the demons, really truly, believe they have your best interests in mind.
So, this bar brawl. The initial invitation to tea is met with resistance. The demons push back. And by push back, I mean, they pull out all the stops, lashing out in any way possible to discourage you from change, discourage you from looking at your pain with compassion and objectivity. The demons attempt to keep you within the safety of patterns that no longer serve your best interests. They want to keep you stuck. Stuck is safer than taking a risk. It requires patience and resilience for your demons to come willingly to tea. The muck we must wade through to get to the table is thick and disgusting (painful, shameful and tiring). Today, let’s ponder the more irreverent, but no less important process of talking back to these demons.
As part of their tactics to keep you safe in your old, (un)comfortable patterns of thought and action, demons will whisper little messages to you. The demons did not come up with these messages themselves, no. They were first told you implicitly or explicitly by family, friends, society, or authority figures and now the demons take those words and use them for their own purposes. They even have you believing them, on your worst days. They whisper poison into our ear. “You are not good enough” “you are wrong” “you are unlovable” “you will never measure up” “you are only as valuable as others say you are” “you are weak” “you will never get better” “you don’t deserve _______.”. The demons know just what to say to bring you to your knees.
The confusing part is that they can sound so real, and that you can’t help but sometimes question if they aren’t indeed, true.
When a person just starting out on their healing journey hears such awful things from their demons, my gut reaction is not to tell them to cordially “invite them to tea”. There is a time and place for tea. Inviting your demons to tea is a reverent way to address many past hurts, and is not to be done right off the bat. The demons might accidently mistake you for the food and eat you alive if you invite them before you are ready.
For those of us just beginning our inward journey of healing, I am inclined to tell you to get a bit lippy with your demons. Talk back. Question everything. Channel that inner adolescent to come out and rebel against what the demons tell you. Maybe even get angry, get some separation! We need to see ourselves as separate from what the demons tell us we are. Separate from untruth. It’s easier to think clearly when we don’t have twenty voices telling us how worthless we are. There is no room for agreement with our demons. They once played a role in our safety, but we no longer need them. Be gone!
So why the title of the blog? Why we “curse” in therapy. As therapists, we need our clients to have a little sass. A little resistance. A little back talk. A little bit of fire that shows us that you are still in there. That the demons haven’t totally consumed you. It’s why working with adolescents can be so rewarding. I am in awe of the teens who have the stamina not to talk for an entire session. The ones who questions “authority,” the ones who talk back or speak fluent sarcasm to their therapist. It’s beautiful because it shows us that if they can talk back to us as people, maybe, just maybe they will have the strength to talk back to the demons. Maybe we can help direct some of that angst back at what internally plagues you.
“Cursing” can be literal or metaphorical. For me, cursing was absolutely literal in sessions. I had to talk to my demons out loud, in therapy, or I simply avoided it. And to speak from my true self, and not from a demon of fear, I had to throw in a little cursing. I was a huge people pleaser, and that also translated to following what my demons told me to do all the time. So, my therapist asked how I could counter those lies, and I replied, “well I’d probably just tell them to fuck off.” She told me, I should probably do that. A lot of times. Demons don’t always get the message the first time. And now, as a therapist, I find that many people tend to agree with me. The cursing is an oddly popular way to resist. And for those of you that do not curse, and do not find it an appealing push back, I implore you to find another way. “Cursing” or resistance to your demons, will look and sound different for all of us. There is no right or wrong way to go about pushing back, and quieting what no longer serves you, as long as it is your true self emerging through.
In short, get a therapist that helps you find your authentic self, who can walk with you as you begin the journey to inviting your demons to tea.
Getting to the table in not even the end goal, it’s the beginning of a beautiful new way to experience self-care, self-talk, and self-love.
For now, I think I’ll brew some of this freaking amazing peppermint tea I just bought; and I think I’ll let my demons simmer for now, because tonight I need a little self-care. Oddly enough, tea is both the way I practice inner work nowadays, and the way I love on myself. Funny how those two things get more and more similar, the more inner work I do. Maybe, inner work and self-love are more connected that we realize. We owe it to ourselves to look inside, and be gentle with ourselves. And boy is it nice when things are gentle, if only for a moment.
Cheers to some nasty, beautiful, gross, relieving, self-care and self-work my friends.