Your worst enemy

Pointing at you

We live in a world in which we are obsessed with the illusion or reality of an enemy lurking somewhere intent on destroying us. From big nations, organisations to individuals at the workplace and students in school, many people are impelled, or so it appears, by the desire to be prepared so that the vicious enemy would not barbecue them.

From rival spouses to unfriendly in-laws, from co-competitors to ordinary classmates, the quest to crush enemies is so prevalent in our society. It is towards confronting enemies that nations and groups amass weapons and establish armies. It is towards defeating enemies that people engage in fetishism and seek super-natural powers. It is towards attacking enemies that certain religious groups must always “shame the devil” or unleash holy ghost fire.

While attention is often focused on the enemy outside, the worst enemy of man is often ignored. This is because one’s worst enemy is oneself. It is only when one has conquered self that one can be in position to confront the little enemies. The biggest enemy, my friend, is the one residing within you. Your enemy is that self-righteous and destructive self that gives you the impression that  everyone is bad except you; that everyone wants to kill you and you must act fast; that anything that happens to you is the work of the enemy.

The self is responsible for one’s thoughts, attitudes and actions. It is your thinking essentially that determines your personality. Rene Descartes famously said, “I think, therefore, I am.” Without the capacity to think clearly, logically and scientifically, one’s judgement would be wrong and wrong actions would be taken. More importantly, one will not be at peace with oneself and the world.

The way people consciously choose what they eat because “you are what you eat” to some extent, students especially should consciously mind what they think. Your thoughts define who you are, a point made stridently by Frank Outlaw in his well-known quote: “Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”

Developing good thought processes is a function of what you feed your mind with. If you don’t want fat, don’t eat junk; if you don’t want negative thoughts, you stop reading or watching all trash. This is because if you read atheist literature much, soon you may begin to doubt the existence of God. If you consume pornography and sex literature, everyone you see soon becomes a sex object. If you associate with bad friends, their values become yours soon and you think what they do is right. This is why the English say, “Show me your friends and I will tell you who  you are.”

However, if you fortify yourself with edifying people and literature, there is every tendency you will think and act right. Much of what we refer to as problems is just our perception. A problem is a problem only when it is considered so. And rather than blame everyone else for your misfortune, including the devil, why don’t you just make it a duty to blame yourself? To a large extent, you are responsible for your action and inaction; you are the cause of your fortune and misfortune.

The story is told of how the employees of a factory got to work one windy morning to find a notice on the board: “Yesterday, the person who had been hindering your promotion in this company passed away. You are invited to join in the funeral.”

While they were all concerned about the demise of their colleague, they were all curious about who the late enemy of progress could be. So one-by-one, they soon gathered at the grave side mainly to know who exactly the person was.

“Well, at least the man who had been hindering my progress is dead now and I will be able to forge ahead, thank God.” This was the thought of many of them.

One-by-one, the excited employees got to the coffin but when they looked inside it, they were speechless. There was only a large mirror inside the coffin and everyone who looked into it could see himself/ herself reflected in it.

There was a sign to the mirror: “There is only one person who is capable of setting limits to your progress. It is YOU, yourSELF. You are the only force who could influence your happiness, success and realisations.”

As stated in the story, which I read a long time ago, “Your life does not change when your boss, friend or company changes…Your life changes when YOU change…You go beyond your limiting beliefs as you realise that you are the major determining factor of your life. It is the way you face life that makes the difference.”

Your worst enemy is the enemy within; deal with it.