“We quickly discover that when we meet the enemy, it is our self we meet.”
September 5, 2012 by
Categories: Self

There are many ways to interpret this saying. One is that there is a bit of ourselves in every person we meet.  Thus, when we fight with them, we are also fighting ourselves.   Another is that we are often our own enemy.

I’m especially reminded of this after walking away from an argument, a bad day, or someone that frustrates or irritates me. As much as I don’t want to admit it, it’s not it or them that created this feeling or discontentment I have.

This enemy I meet is a reflection of my fears, my insecurities, and my stresses. Sure, the people around me can either heighten or minimize those worries; but ultimately, they are mine and no one else’s.

This is a hard lesson to swallow. It shifts the focus to me, my thoughts and behaviors, and that’s somewhat of an uncomfortable feeling. Myself as an enemy? Why would I encourage that?

But I have– and old habits are difficult to rid of. I deftly put up my own barriers, give myself harsher criticism than I do to others, and have found it more difficult to forgive myself for faults.

So there it is. My enemy. My instincts tell me that rather than fighting against it, I have to befriend and soften that aspect of myself. I believe it important to pay attention and give credit to all aspects of what has shaped me, and my fears and past discontents are as much a part of me as anything else.

In addition, I am constantly working to give less power to my “enemy” that is self-criticism and more power to awareness of strengths. I have learned that through hard work and determination, it is possible to become better at something. I enjoy when my I am able to hone in on my challenges and improve.  But I have also learned that it is more efficient to focus on and utilize my strengths if I want to grow as a person.

This is a philosophy I like to take into the therapy room with my clients (or with anyone!). Initially I get a lot of resistance because people find it difficult to identify their strengths, are shy to do so, or feel like they are boasting. It personally makes me uncomfortable to talk about myself, but there are times when calling out and knowing your strengths is appropriate. More recently, it has been helpful while working as a team at my current job. Learning from others and balancing everyone’s skills is crucial to progressing positively towards a goal. Highlighting these skills is also the first step needed to build on them.

Give space to your “enemy.” Find its purpose. But instead of trying to get rid of it, turn it into something that doesn’t hurt you, but helps you.

What are your thoughts? Are you able to identify your strengths as easily as you can identify your challenges?

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