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Sunday, January 04, 2009

Only One Enemy

Each of us has only one enemy, himself or herself; an enemy difficult to ignore and full of cunning.

And no one knows their enemy better than the person who must manage his or her own time. For example, a salesperson working on commission, or a person trying to break a bad habit or lose weight.

One of the hardest things a person can do is to look at himself or herself objectively, realistically, without self-glorification, deception, or despair. An analysis of yourself can pay rich dividends in a variety of ways: increased effectiveness and impact on others, better personal relationships, and greater personal fulfillment

Getting to know yourself is not simple. Psychologists agree that each of us builds up a strong network of defenses which act to protect us from others and, incidentally, ourselves.

All of us are born into this world helpless and dependent. In order to survive, we need to lean on others. The child growing up learns to turn to mother not only for comforts of physical help, but for the rewarding comfort of approval.

As we grow older, we continue the search for approval from the widening circle around us. We want friends not only to like us, but to approve of what we do. In their approval, we find assurance of our own worth.

So great is the human need for love and approval that we will often deceive ourselves, if necessary, rather than face the fact that we might now deserve it. Undisguised, our behavior might not always merit approval all of us do things that are inconsiderate, unkind, and downright cruel. But rather than face ourselves in an unkindly light, even to our own eyes, we unconsciously will protect our image of ourselves.

We rationalize. We say, “I did it because,” providing supposedly good and substantial reasons for our behavior. We protect, disowning the fault and seeing it as the other person's problem. We displace by blaming someone else for our own faults that we can't accept. We compensate by stretching ourselves in one area when we have failed in another.

Our defenses serve two purposes. First, they represent an attempt to prove to others that we're really fine people, and anything we do wrong is done for the right reason, they help us to deceive ourselves.

Know your enemy, and you can overcome him or her. Know yourself, the ancient advice still heads the list, and perhaps you can overcome the only real enemy you have: yourself.