It’s Your Business: So Don’t Tell the Devil

Chess Pieces, copyright Ellen Wilson

Was reading Alan Watts the other day and came across this interesting bit, “…if you plan to change your life (shall we say turn over a new leaf?) you mustn’t let the devil know, because he will oppose you with all his might if he suddenly discovers that you’re going to escape from his power.”

Who is this devil? And why would he possibly care about me? Or my business? This devil has many guises, and I’m sure you can conjure a few: the hellish client, that demon lover, my evil twin…

In popular psychology, Carl Jung states that the devil is part of our shadow. And if we don’t own up to it, we our bound to meet this devil in everyday life in all of its guises. Jung thought that:

The shadow is most dangerous when unrecognized. Then the individual tends to project his or her unwanted qualities onto others or to become dominated by the shadow without realizing it. Images of evil, the devil and the concept of original sin are all aspects of the shadow archetype.

The more the shadow material is made conscious, the less it can dominate. But the shadow is an integral part of our nature, and it can never be simply eliminated. A person who claims to be without a shadow is not a complete individual but a two-dimensional caricature, denying the mixture of good and evil that is necessarily present in all of us.

Institute of Transpersonal Psychology

 Okay, I thought. I got it. Keeps me humble. Keeps me from acting arrogant, thinking I’m better than everyone.

Happy with myself, I settled back down to work again. Until I got the whiff of something…smelly. The Devil! He sat down next to me.

“Preccciousss,” He hissed. “You think you’re sooo precioussss.”

I frowned, looked up from my laptop. Damn, if he didn’t look like Gollum from the Hobbit.

“Look,” I said. “I’m not any better than anyone else. I know that.”

For the sake of brevity I will spare you all the nasty things he said to me. But, yeah, he was nasty. He said I thought I was big stuff now, that I thought I could write AND take pictures. That I couldn’t, and I would fail. That I couldn’t do anything well. At all. FAIL! FAIL! FAIL! He kept saying that. And wouldn’t stop!

I looked at him, square in the eye. Why would I think I was better than anyone? Where does this self-inflation come from? Am I afraid I’m not as good as others? And then, Poof! He vanished.

A little shaken, I vowed not to tell the Devil about my secrets again. I vowed to stay in the present moment, and plug away at my goals. Goals that are barely known to the devil. Gotta keep that devil guessing. Because the Devil would rather have me obsess about the past, or worry about the future.

Photo Credit: © Ellen Wilson



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