You have heard it many times. Too many times, perhaps. We are our own worst enemy.
But is it true?
Let's see if we can find a new perspective on this ancient saying.
The farthest back in history I have found a reference to us as our own worst enemy is Proverbs 14:12, nearly 3,000 years ago. The oldest quote using similar words was by the great Roman orator, Cicero, approximately 2,000 years ago. His words translated from Latin are:
"Man is his own worst enemy." Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC)
You can also find quotes from the King of France and the Queen of Sweden dating back to the 1600s, with similar quotes from many others in more recent times.
It does seem we can be our own worst enemy, but ask yourself, is it always so, and does it have to be so? The obvious answer is, of course not!
Attempting to make an absolute statement that we are our own worst enemy removes our responsibility and control, creating a false notion. That would make us a victim!
Yet, there are times when we are our worst enemy. Too many times for some of us! Anytime we give up or simply do not try when we could, we hurt ourselves. Unfortunately, this is often done willingly but perhaps unthinkingly. For many people, this can be their natural disposition.
Some want other things in life
Does going through life without thought or care make us our own worst enemy? Perhaps, depending on the person.
It helps to recognize not everyone is the same, and some do not want what you want or what you think they should want. Those of us who thrive on personal development/improvement can find it difficult to understand why anyone else would not see it our way. Reality says otherwise.
Some people are perfectly happy where they are with what they are doing and desire nothing more. Sure, we can make many arguments as to why this may work against them over time, but unless they want something different, they will remain as they are.
What is an enemy to you and me can be seen differently from one person to the next. They have a right to live their life as they wish, just as we do.
Back to the often-quoted words stating we are our own worst enemy. Yes, it can be true for many of us. At the opposite end of the spectrum, we can become our own best friend. Can you be both your best friend and worst enemy?
Making our worst enemy and best friend work for us
When you think of an enemy, what comes to mind? For me, it is someone that is against me and with whom I battle. But what happens when you are fighting yourself? Will you win or lose?
It is essential to recognize you can be your own worst enemy. If you are not aware of this enemy, you need to wake up! If you sleep through the battle, you will undoubtedly lose. Yet when you wake up to what you are doing or not doing in your life, you can take charge and move to the winning side.
I first realized I was my own worst enemy in my late 20's. I recall hearing Jim Rohn say I needed to work harder on myself than I did on my job. As someone who never shied away from hard work, this was a wake-up call. Up to that point, I had been asleep, unaware of what it took to move ahead in my career and life.
The amazing thing about such an awakening is how it changes your world. You go from seeking ways to improve in one way, and your entire life benefits. My employers benefited from the work I started doing on myself. My wife benefited. My family and friends benefited. Every area of my life benefited.
I had become my best friend by simply waking up to the fact I was my own worst enemy! As one of my favorite presidents once said:
"The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend." Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
I had done precisely that. By waking up to what I was not doing, the enemy in me became my best friend. It has remained so to this day.
I went from being with the walking dead, just doing it, doing it, doing it, day in and day out. Then that one simple thing changed my thinking and I begin working harder on myself than on my job! Rohn was right. Here is his exact quote:
"Learn to work harder on yourself than you do on your job. If you work hard on your job you can make a living, but if you work hard on yourself you'll make a fortune." Jim Rohn (1930-2009)
His words ring true today as much as when I heard them many years ago. By the way, the second part of Rohn's quote remains just as true today as well. Try it, and you too will find out firsthand like so many others!
If you do not see yourself as your worst enemy, you may already be in a place where you have learned the better way.
Or you may be asleep as I was all those years ago. If you have not found your worst enemy, it will help you to learn more about yourself. Find what is holding you back from your full potential. A friend, mentor, or coach may be able to help you find the enemy within yourself.
Once you find the enemy, find a way to turn the knowledge you gain into becoming your own best friend. I assure you, it will be a life-changing experience and well worth it when you meet your new best friend!