Game of Life
As a parent of young kids or anyone playing video games, you’ve either heard of or played the game Fortnite. As I watched my boys play the game this weekend, it struck me how it is a metaphor for our lives. Personally, the last few weeks played out like a game of Fortnite. I felt lost in the chaos of life, forced to interact with individuals I didn’t know or understand, with no way to protect myself. It’s not just people I run into, but anger, frustration, sadness, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. Demons grasp at my legs, trying to drag me back into the darkness. I search for items and people to help me, but no one comes to my aid. I feel lost and insecure, closing myself off from everything and everyone. I walk through the game with nothing more than a pen and paper, giving me inadequate tools to build shanty-type walls. Finally, I realize the walls are just barriers, barriers unable to protect me from my demons, unable to protect me from my negative thoughts and feelings.
I hear the demons more intensely now calling for me to “give up!” At this exact moment, I see the light in the distance and another set of players yelling for me, “Dad, dad. Let’s go to hockey!” Transported back to my living room couch, my boys stare at me, asking, “Dad, you alright?” I bring myself back to the center and realize I am okay; I know I’m with people I love and not in the chaotic world of Fortnite. Whether in Fortnite or the game of life, we must seek those we value most, those we love, cherish and care for above all else; this is the only way to keep the demons at bay. As Russ Harris states in his book The Happiness Trap,
“These demons have many different forms. Some of them are emotions, such as guilt, anger, fear, or hopelessness. Some are memories of times you’ve failed or hurt. Others are thoughts like “It’s too hard,” “I’ll make a fool of myself,” or “I’ll fail.” Some of them are mental images in which you see yourself performing badly or getting rejected. And still, others are unpleasant sensations, such as tightness in your chest or a knot in your stomach. The interesting thing is, although these demons threaten you, they never actually cause you any physical harm. Why not? Because they can’t! All they can do is growl and wave their claws and look terrifying – physically, they can’t even touch you. And once you realize this, you’re free.”
I’ve used several different therapies to teach others how to manage their demons. From my personal experience as a client and through my work with clients, I’ve realized there is no one answer. We must find a counselor we can align with therapeutically and work as a team, for the battle against the demons will be lifelong. However, I can teach you skills to lean into the pain and negative emotions, face the demons that prevent us from living a meaningful life. Be a Warrior!