Just a few months ago, iconic rap legend Marshall Mathers, also known by Eminem released a collaboration with pop star Rhianna called The Monster. In the song he penned these words; “I'm friends with the monster that's under my bed. Get along with the voices inside of my head. You're trying to save me, stop holdin' your breath. And you think I'm crazy, yeah, you think I'm crazy.” The song is meant to be a journey down memory lane of Eminem’s career and chronicle his growth. As many know, Em has transitioned from a rowdy, drug riddled trouble maker into a mature father, business owner and mentor to several younger artists in the industry. In part, this song represents the reconciliation of humanities in a dual existence. Artists, poets and thinkers have long discussed this subject matter. From Shakespeare to Kant, Kierkegaard to Machiavelli; One after another they all labored over what Marshall seems to finally understand.
As a child, I can remember times when the family was up watching a scary movie on television. I would get so angry because my mother would insist I go to bed or run the risk of having bad dreams. We’d go back and forth until I somehow negotiated a seat on the couch. By the end of the movie, I was striving to keep my eyes open because my room was all the way at the end of the hall. The very place the monsters from the movie visited first. There was no way I would be safe in there alone. For children (and some adults) their biggest fear is monsters under their bed. Instead of being afraid, Rihanna has befriended “the monster under her bed,” because she can relate to it. Em’s “monster” referred to in the song could be identified as his stage alter ego Slim Shady. Shady represents rebellion, drug use, hatred and violence. The video released for the song illustrates how he has to deal with Shady. In the video, you can see that he walks up to the imprisoned Shady and is handed some rhymes, but Marshall stays strong, despite the fact that the “Slim Shady” persona effectively got him where he is today in the rap game.
In life, just like Mathers, we struggle with our past selves, insecurities and fears of the future. As a coach, the reoccurring theme I hear week after week is that of insignificance and the fear of not being “enough.” The ironic thing is if you could see into the internal conversations of a room full of people, the vast majority of them would be thinking the exact same thing! There is no shortage of self-esteem issues. We simply learn ways to either mask them or confront and overcome them.
As I reminisced about my silly childhood fears of creatures hiding under my bed or inside my closet, I also realized that some of those fears can follow us into adulthood. Later in life they manifest in different forms. They show up as a fear of asking for a raise or seeking true love. No matter how they appear, we all want the same thing; to finally be free of being scared of the monsters!
Here are a few monsters that show up in our lives no matter how old we are:
• The Rejection Monster: Rejection is a fickle beast. On one hand, we all try to act as if it doesn’t matter nor hurt when we are rejected. But contrary to popular belief, we are engineered to be connected to others. So when that connection is severed or denied, it cuts against our core. Life is the sum total of our relationships. Studies show that a longer more fulfilled life is enjoyed by individuals who have healthy connections. However scary it seems, rejection should not be feared. Understand the roles you can control and live an authentic life. Those that should be connected to you will eventually find their way to you.
• The Unknown Monster: Psychologists will confirm that they treat more people who cannot categorize their fears than anything else. These patients feel that there’s something “out there” working to get them and this is the monster that keeps them from moving forward. How many times have you been petrified and unable to make a step? Real or imaginary, those fears rob us of a life of joy. When you are in a constant state of panic with no true identifiable reason, you are left drained and bordering on depression. I know because I have lived it! Once you face life and refuse to give another inch to the fear of the unknown, you can begin to dig out of the pit of despair.
• The Failure Monster: Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed ten thousand times. I have simply learned ten thousand ways that do not work for me.” When you think of failure what comes to mind? I bet you don’t think about billionaires, championship athletes and mega companies! And those are in fact, the very individuals who seemed to “fail” their way to the top. In John Maxwell’s book “Failing Forward” he covers that exact subject. On every page are the stories of ordinary people with an extraordinary resilience. Maxwell states the only difference between good and great is the willingness to take another step after a failure. Own it, face it and then prepare to move into the next stage of your evolution. You didn’t really fail; you just learned a great lesson!
Fighting your monsters alone can be tough. Eminem even needed someone to step in and assist him with his; much like a drug addict needs to be kept away from the drug, for their own good. That’s where your circle of influence comes in. Partner with others who know and respect you. You will find yourself able to be authentic with them and share what’s going on. As you do, you gain strength and a clearer vision on your future. With that, you are finally ready to conquer those monsters under your bed.