It seems man’s natural state to be at war; after all, our history is one of conquest and battle, enemy and ally. But where do our enemies really lie? Sure we know globally at the moment it seems to be the West v Islam, just as it used to be the West v Communism and before that the Allies v Germany. We can infinitely recurse our way through history stopping at any number of legendary battles, where enemies faced off over vast fields, or many years, but are all our enemies faceless others?
History tells us that on the Western Front, Germany and the English famously called a halt to battle on Christmas Eve, 1914: stopped their war to sing carols, exchange gifts and souvenirs. While over on the beach in Gallipoli, the Anzac troops saw the enemy much more as the English officers, sat a mile away from the front-lines, calling the shots, sending young men to certain death: they were more enemies than the equally young and inexperienced Turkish soldiers.
We all have enemies, those who seek to harm us, do us down, damage us. Sometimes for good enough reasons, sometimes for no real reason at all, other than it seems they can get away with turning our lives into our very own personal and twisted war-zones. It is human to battle, to fight and to have enemies. It seems that to travel through life without causing others to feel strongly about us (for good or ill) is to leave no mark, make no impact on the world. So perhaps to have enemies is not so bad, providing we do not let them destroy us, or let our enmity of them destroy them (or us) either.
So, where are your enemies? Far off strangers, whom you hate because of their colour, race, religion or belief? Or closer in: were they once friends? Remember the adage: keep your friends close and your enemies closer… Remember too, that many have been killed by those closest to them. Philip of Macedon was killed by his own body-guard. His son, Alexander the Great, is also rumoured to have been poisoned by his inner-sanctum and we all know that Julius Cesar was stabbed by his closest mates, including Brutus.
But look closer still, right up close and intimately personal. Is your worst enemy actually you? Who is it that does the most damage to your life? Is it some nameless other, some adversary at work, some friend or lover? Or is it you?
Once you reach a certain age it is possible to look back, to look at repeating patterns of destruction. Are you fatally attracted to the same sort of lover, doomed to fall in love with the same bright beguiling surface only to find the same darkness beneath each succeeding partner? Do you repeat self-destruct actions and behaviours at work, finding yourself looking once again for a better place because this one has become utterly intolerable? Do you talk yourself down to the depths or up to the sky without a strong hook into reality that repeatedly leads you down false trails, costing you time, money, emotion, pride?
Being grown up means facing up to certain difficult truths about ourselves. Yes, the world can be a nasty, evil adversarial place, seemingly hell bent on destroying us. But are we helping the world too much, are we actually the architects of our own doom?
As you step away from your latest disaster it might be timely to consider where the enemy really is. Successful generals understand their opponents, seek intelligence about them, size them and then apply a range of strategies to defeat the enemy. Wars are not won by brute strength alone, by blundering on, losing men and resources, giving away too much ground. Wars are not won by superior numbers but by skill, strategy and then brute force.
If you are your own worse enemy it probably is time to stop and re-think how you are living your life. If your battles are leaving you too bruised and broken, too battle weary, then it is probably time to find another strategy, another way to live your life.
By now you will know what it is that trips you up but can you stop it? A frank appraisal of your repeating destructive patterns is called for. If you can’t do it alone ask someone you trust, someone who knows you well enough and is honest enough to tell you those things you don’t want to hear but need to be told. There maybe call for professional help – psychologists are excellent at helping people identify problems and find solutions. Of course, there are self-help books on everything.
Step away from your life for a while. Stand outside yourself and watch. Take note of what you see, how you feel, what you are doing, how that impacts on others and yourself. Take a deep breath and take another step away – away from the things that destroy, repeating patterns that damage and scar you. Do it today, stop now. Stop being your own worst enemy, be the you you really want to be, the better part of you, not the battling war-monger, the destroyer of your own happiness.
Be your own best friend not your worst enemy. (Images from Google Images)