There is an African proverb that says, “When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.” That is very true in a metaphoric sense. Most of the time, we are our own worst enemy. That usually happens when passion supersedes reason.
We like to believe that we are creatures of reason, motivated by logic and common sense. We are not. As the saying goes, we are creatures of emotion, bristling with prejudice, and motivated with pride and vanity.
That may be a hard pill to swallow. But it’s the truth; and unless we are willing to swallow that pill, there won’t be much that we can do about it. Ignoring a problem won’t make it go away.
If we are to be honest about it, we must admit that a large part of the problems and hardships that we face are ego related. Ego and unchecked passion go hand in hand. Both can be formidable enemies. What adversely affects the ego will be leashed out through irrational emotions.
The ego is so sensitive and so fragile that we will go to almost any length to protect it; and it is so precious that we’ll even deny reality to boost it. That’s easy to understand when we consider that a bruised ego will hurt more and take a longer time to heal than a broken bone.
The other disturbing reality about the ego is the fact that it is almost never blamed for the hurts or deceptions that it causes. No one ever says, “I was hurt because my ego is too fragile.” So, once again, if we cannot lay blame on whatever is causing the problem, how can we fix it?
The ego, like a wild animal, is only a problem when it feels vulnerable or is not well fed. A strong and healthy ego needs to dwell in and feed off a healthy and confident self-image. When well taken care off, it can be our best friend; when neglected, it becomes our worst enemy.
We can fool ourselves but we cannot fool our ego. It knows our true worth. It knows if we are true to our values and if we have the courage of our convictions or if we are only the shadow of the person that we know we could be.
We are our own worst enemy when we play down what we expect of ourselves in a futile effort to fool our ego. Instinctively, we know what we should be and what we are capable off. We also know whether we are leading a courageous battle to fill our rightful place in the world or if we have abdicated for lack of courage.
Even if he lost the war and suffered a major setback, a valiant and courageous General will not feel belittled or humiliated if he gave his all. That man will not feel like a failure. He was true to himself, respected his commitment and that’s what matters most.
It is the same in our own life. We can be our best friend or worst enemy. By having the courage to do what’s right, do it with courage while using the best of our abilities, the ego will be taken care off, the self-image will shine brightly and we will feel good about ourselves.
One the other hand, if we are less than truthful, try to deceive ourselves, try to get by with as little effort as possible by using the easy way out, we are heading for disaster. We may be able to fool ourselves, but we cannot fool life. We may be creatures of emotions but life is not. It unfolds according to implacable laws.
Either we follow those laws or we pay the price. Either we live our life in a courageous and honorable fashion or we face our worst enemy, ourselves.