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Have you ever found yourself all worked up because you feel that people who you depend on are not helping or supporting you as they should? Have you ever felt like you would be further or more successful in your endeavours if someone or something was not blocking your progress? If you answered ‘yes’ to any one of those two questions you might have realized by now that you are your biggest enemy, and you are the only one stopping yourself from making progress in your life. You cannot control people’s negative actions but you can control how you respond to them and decide how they will affect your life.
Most individuals experience moments of insistent frustration and self-loathing because of their own thoughts and actions. It is not completely a surprise that you will come upon obstacles every now and again, wonder if you are on the right path or made a good decision, or have a crisis to deal with at a certain point in life. But lack of motivation or confidence and self-doubt and indecision are spin-offs of our inner enemy. We are the only one responsible for our downfalls and failures. For this article, failure is referred to as the lack of trying until you succeed.
When the perceived enemy is your so-called friends, co-workers, family members and even strangers, you feel more able to deal with it by getting rid of them or staying away from them. When you have done all of that and are alone with only yourself as company, you will find that they were not the enemy; your thought process and belief system that remain were the real culprits. The outside enemies are gone but you still feel angry and demotivated.
Fortunately, though, there is something you can do when the enemy is on the inside; when the most ideal solution is NOT to get rid of yourself or to avoid yourself; you have to first become aware of the monster that resides in you, understand its ultimate plan, and defeat the negative and discouraging voice.
What to do when the enemy is within
- Manage your expectations
Do not confuse the ambitious voice that guides your endeavours with the louder voice that speak of unlikely hope or outcomes. While it is good to anticipate and envision a lot and good things for yourself, it is not wise to expect to gain the most out of every single decision you make. If you do that, you will certainly and constantly have a feeling of being unfulfilled. For instance, you want to get fit and/or lose some weight in a short period of time and you decide to go to the gym every day after work. In this case, you may or may not lose the weight quickly, but don’t be surprised if you experience burn-out and crash and have to involuntarily give up the commitment. (As my mother would say, too much of one thing is good for nothing). This could further result in thoughts of failure.
It becomes even more risky when you do not properly manage the expectations that are out of the scope of your control. You should not totally expect others to act a particular way or do a specific thing when you are not able to manage their actions, because you will have a devastating experience if you do. For example, imagine how you would feel if you completely expect your favourite football team to come out on top at the championship (and you even bet on them) and they lost the final match. Also, think about how you would be distraught if you made vacation plans on the expectation that your boss would give you a bonus for work well done, even though this was not in the contract that you signed when you started working at the company. The shattered emotions in the two scenarios would be due to the mismanagement of your anticipations or expectations. Set realistic self-goals; do not bite off more than you can chew. Bear in mind that you cannot control others’ thoughts and actions, therefore you can hope for rewards but don’t expect them. A favourite phrase of mine is ‘hope for the best, expect the worst.’ Contentment usually comes from being pleasantly surprised at unexpected outcomes.
Appreciate the small things too
One characteristic of the enemy inside is the expectations for big things and ignoring the small things while you are at it. Almost everyone desires to live a satisfying life while they occupy the earth. However, this will not happen until you appreciate the little victories, beauty of nature, and the kindness of others that you see on a daily basis. Make every effort to consciously appreciate the ‘small’ things because it is easy to get distracted by problems and concerns that occupy your mind and attention.
This is also important for personal success because if you do not recognize and appreciate the small accomplishments, you will begin to lose confidence in yourself. For instance, you complain so much about your boss and your income that you miss the lesson you learnt about mastering the art of how to survive on a tight budget. If you have to walk to work or elsewhere, while you wait to get a car it is best if you appreciate the health benefits that come with walking regularly. Recognize the good things that happen on a small scale to help build your self-respect, motivation and confidence.
Don’t take your life and freedom for granted
Similar to the point I made above, the inner enemy is most convincing in this area of your life. You may find that every now and again you are willing to donate to a worthy cause for a stranger or help out in a situation for a family member or friend; you may even recognize that you are somewhat in a privileged position when you see someone else dealing with something that you do not have to deal with. However, it is easy to take life and possessions for granted. If you are viewing this article right now it means that you have access to an internet connection, a little time to spare to take a breather and see what I have to say in this article, and more likely than not, have somewhere to live.
You get more out of life when you do not take things for granted. You should truly appreciate what you have; appreciate how privileged you are in the midst of your complaining. It may be your talents or abilities, your health, love from family and friends, freedom to engage in your hobbies and volunteering, or not having to deal with real outside enemies; everyone has something that he or she can be grateful for. Position yourself to win the battle when the enemy is not around you but is inside of you.