A few years ago, a self-help teacher by the name of Robin Rice offered a free online class called “Training your Inner Warrior.” It was a fascinating 31-day journey that outlined her unique take on breaking through blocks and creating positive, productive habits. Her illustrations were as simple as they were wise and divided our beautiful brain and being into a few major players. Of course, one of them was our Inner Warrior. The other one she called our Demon Ally. Now there’s an oxymoron if I ever tripped over one! I mean really, how can something be your demon and your ally in the same breath?
The idea of “training” my Inner Warrior came as a huge surprise. Maybe even a shock. Whaaaat?! I wasn’t born with a balls-to-the-wall, fully armored, badass, fiercely strong and strikingly beautiful Inner Warrior that was just standing behind a red velvet curtain waiting to be called forth to battle? I couldn’t just drop into some deep meditative state every morning and bring her back in full conscious glory?
My Inner Warrior has to be TRAINED? She might be puny and weak and need to “wax on, wax off” and paint fences for a while? Possibly even a long while? Oh. My. Gawd. This is seriously bad news.
So who exactly is this Inner Warrior in Robin’s tale? She (or he or it or them) is the force within us that supports our growth and desire for positive change through insight, strategies, planning—and of course, standing strong in the heat of battle. Staying the course until the victory is won. In Robin’s definition, the Inner Warrior bridges our spirit and our human self but is not fully either one.
And who is the Demon Ally? It’s that force that resists, holds us back, makes us smaller, contracts, distorts, rationalizes, denies, and outright lies. It works counter to our highest good, whispering clever rationalizations that lead us down the path of regret at the very least and self-destruction at its worst. (I know, that all sounds pretty demon-ish to me, too.) Some of us have teensy demons that are more like annoying bugs. Others have massive tormenting demons leftover from unresolved trauma and unhealed wounds. But I’m willing to guess that not one of us has a problem relating to the word “demon” on some level. These days a lot of self-help guides have been referring to it as our Shadow. Debbie Ford penned a groundbreaking book entitled The Dark Side of the Light Chasers: Reclaiming your power, creativity, brilliance and dreams.
The Demon is the force that our Inner Warrior is called to meet in battle. Being a very visual person, I can really get into this drama. Maybe you can, too. Let’s take Laura McKowen as an example. Why did she choose We are the Luckiest as the title of her sobriety memoir? What on earth could the girl be referring to as LUCKY? If you have read her book or know anything about her journey, it was a long miserable slog full of blood, sweat, and tears. At one such tearful moment, she was standing in total shame, facing her brother who said something she already knew to the bone: “Laura, you can’t drink.” Through her tears she managed to choke out, “I know, it’s my thing.”
It’s that very THING she is now so grateful to and for. Her Demon has transformed into her Ally, but only through training her Inner Warrior to strategize and plan, meet the Demon on the battlefield each and every moment of each and every day, and stay the course. Robin Rice says that the process of turning our demon into our ally is almost like entering another dimension. It’s a rebirth, a new life. Brooke Castillo says the same thing in The Life Coach School Podcast, a brilliant resource that takes a deep dive into behavioral change, wellbeing, and personal growth. Anyone who has overcome “their thing” will tell you on the other side of that great work that it was a key to unimagined doors of creativity, beauty, health, joy, fulfillment, love, and self-expression. Without that demon, without a challenge driving them upward and forward, their life would never have reached such incredible heights.
Finely trained badass Inner Warriors stand poised and ready, because what it takes to overcome anything is what it takes to overcome everything.
I don’t know about you, but training my Inner Warrior will be requiring an eff-ton of wax-on and wax-offing. Fences will need to be painted. Maybe even several coats. Indulging any whim that crossed my mind, any craving or urge that came along, was a pattern that began in childhood. It felt like self-love at the time. It was certainly survival, filling in the gaping holes of my little soul. Neural pathways that have been in place that long may be deep, but we can always lay new track.
If our Demon hasn’t transformed into our Demon Ally yet, we can begin or continue to shore up our Inner Warrior. Hone those strategy skills and deepen that resolve to stay the course. One day at a time, one goal at a time, we can take baby steps toward new healthier habits, gather the tools we need to meet unexpected surprise attacks, recognize self-sabatoge, and create a daily strategy for known pitfalls and vulnerabilities. We can change anything that is no longer working for us and embrace what truly feeds our mind, body, and soul.
Every one of us is capable of performing this miraculous alchemy, and that Truth is what makes us the luckiest!