Why do I anthropomorphize my problems?

In one of my recent blog posts, I wrote about my demons. A couple comments acknowledged that I, like now, am preferring the word “demon” rather than speaking what is currently unnamed. And continuing to do so.

Why anthropomorphize my problems?

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I have my reasons.

  1. These blog posts are my selfish way of venting creatively while also keeping details, for the most part, a mystery.
  1. Labeling my problems “demons” keeps my problems vague enough that I believe readers with various experiences could (hopefully/potentially) relate, since I’m not specifying what my problems are.
  1. While a comment mentioned that the word “demons” was not always used to connote negative entities, in my blog post and according to our most current usages of the word, “demons” are negative entities usually out to destroy anything good in the world, and are the mystical, Biblical depiction of evil. For me and the problems I have, this depiction couldn’t be more fitting. Thus, I ran with it (and from the demons). See, there I go again.
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So those are my main reasons for why I chose to anthropomorphize my problems as “demons,” because it was a conscious decision I thought through before even writing the post. However, one comment addressed a point that I can’t argue with:

“Hmmm… I have to say that I don’t think anthropomorphising your problems is going to help. They’re not demons (demons are just mythical creatures) they’re bad things that happened.”

And to that I say, you’re exactly right.

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Does calling my problems “demons” help? No.

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Could it potentially make the problem worse? Oh, most definitely.

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And that’s the whole point.

In my blog post, I describe that I’m running from my problems (“demons”). Since I’m calling them “demons” and not by their name, and I’m running from them, at this point I haven’t faced them yet. Am I helping myself by continuing to not face my demons and continue to refer to them as “demons”? Not at all. Which is part of my problem.

If anyone can relate to having a problem needing to be addressed and worked through, many of us may encounter a feeling of denial or refusal in wanting to address the problem. Addressing there is a problem is sometimes just as difficult as living with the problem. Addressing the problem means you have to fight to fix the problem. Change is never easy, especially if your problem involves habits or negative thought patterns you’ve been engaged with for months, years, or decades. As they say, “Old habits die hard,” and if that phrase wasn’t written for me, then…no, it was written for me, actually. Google it.

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I don’t think referring to my problems as “demons” does me any good in the end, that is, essentially, the point. I haven’t yet conquered my problems (“demons”), so I’m not at the stage to speak their names.

I’m running, and hopefully I’ll stop dead in my tracks soon, turn around, and face these demons. And for now, I’m still calling them “demons.”

6 Comments

  1. Hi Rebecca,

    I hope I didn’t cause you offense or consternation with my comments. I appreciate you explaining your reasoning here. But just know we were trying to help. From what I remember the general theme some of us were trying to portray is that the nature of problems we face are more nuanced and demons tend to have somewhat of a fixed definition. I have often felt that problems were simply exaggerated versions of things that might actually be quite good. For instance I used to be a terrible worrier. I’m still not great, but at least I don’t worry needlessly as much. But where does worry come from? It is born out of being concerned…wanting to be alert for situations we might be able to impact to control an outcome. I often said to myself that while my tendency to worry might not be good, what would happen if I was at the other extreme. Not worrying at all might make me apathetic to certain situations that I shouldn’t. I feel like is often about finding the right balance. I now have more wisdom to recognize situations beyond my control and don’t spend as much time worrying as I used to. For me reframing problems about my own nature and simply exaggerations of qualities that everybody else has and that at their heart might actually be positive things in smaller amounts helped. Maybe that’s not the case for you, but just wanted to give you a perspective to consider. It seems for you that you want to frame things this way as a motivation to fight, and that makes perfect sense. Just don’t make your demons too formidable, because they’re not! 🙂

    1. Oh don’t worry! I didn’t take any offense, and I did agree with what your comments said. I actually was expecting that type of response, because it’s a reasonable one. I just felt like I wanted to do a follow-up post to better explain it rather than in the comments. I totally appreciate your sentiments, and I agree that we can find positivity from negative problems in our lives. It’s all about tackling the problems in healthy ways.

      Thank you so much for your comments and for reading! 🙂

  2. Interesting thoughts here, and perhaps some ideas I should apply to my own life. I tend to be pretty open about my problems, both on WordPress and IRL. I know I bitch and moan about them a lot and, like you, I tend to try to run from them. Is it healthy? No, I admit it isn’t. Alas, I’ve always been one who prefers to avoid conflict rather than facing it.

    Maybe this technique can help me too. I’ve been all over the place in trying to deal with mine, and I’ve still not found a healthy way. Perhaps trying this will help and, in due time, prepare me to address them. I know you didn’t necessarily write this as an advice post but I do appreciate it nonetheless. Do what you have to do in order to minimize your suffering IMO.

  3. The language of the demonic is tricky — it can obfuscate the real issue, by neglecting to name the habit, but on the other hand the value of the language of the demonic is caricatured and its power is sapped if one thinks that one can only be referring to mythical beings — gasses flitting about from here to there, if you will. The value of the demonic is precisely in naming the autonomy of patterns or habits or powers at work that have an agency that is distinct from that of our will, in which our wills are caught up, in which relationships can be caught up, in which societies and ecosystems and so on can be caught up, and which has a kind of direction to it that presses forwards — a “will”, if you will. Resistance requires proper naming, but naming a habit or a dynamic or a social evil is not incompatible with language about the demonic — anyone who thinks they can reduce the dynamics of the world’s systems to rationality, and that this rationality excludes any need for poetic language to name adequately what is going on, is, frankly, tone deaf. Don’t be fooled.

    As for the anthropomorphizing element: if one takes one’s Nietzsche seriously, this can’t be avoided: it’s built into everything already, even your language about numbers. You are an anthropos. Why should it surprise you that your language is anthropomorphic?

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