Love Your Enemies

Love Your Enemies

Sometimes we learn from the ludicrous.  We see a ridiculous movie or hear about something that is so far fetched that it sparks something inside of us.  We see a phrase that pushes our cognitive faculties so much that we think that it can’t be possible.  The radical sometimes helps us take a look at our lives and see that, perhaps, what we have thought was a certain way for so long is, in fact, the opposite of what we should be doing or thinking.  If you have ever been in a situation where you were angry at someone or were hurt by what someone said about you, then loving your enemies may be the solution that you have been looking for.   

When we look at our enemies, we almost never associate love with them or even think about being kind to them.  However, if we can embrace this difficult concept, and actually follow through with it, we unlock something inside of us that is priceless.  The enemies that I am referring to are not the enemies of combat or lawlessness, they are the individuals or self inflicted thoughts that bring us anxiety and stress.  These are the enemies that may cause us to derail from what we want to accomplish in our lives or change the way we perceive the goodness in the world.  These are the enemies of self doubt, negativity, and self worth that plague every one of us at some point in our lives.  How can we even begin to think that we will love the thoughts or individuals that bring these types of feelings into our lives?  You see by loving our enemies, we accept them for who they are and we disarm them with positive energy.  An enemy that is hated is fueled by that hatred.  An enemy that is loved becomes powerless.  

Loving External Enemies

We begin with enemies that we can see or others can see. These enemies can take the form of an oppressive supervisor, individuals that criticize you, acquaintances that put you down, social media comments that are hurtful, an individual that cuts you off in traffic, or even a bad storm.  We can see the damage that a natural disaster brings as either a depressing situation that will never get better, or an opportunity to grow and help others.  I personally witnessed incredible acts of kindness and compassion in the wake of our most recent natural disaster, Hurricane Michael.  Individuals that would never have helped each other did so, with true compassion and love of a neighbor helping another neighbor.  That would never have happened without the storm.  External enemies can fuel our compassion and kindness towards others; something to cherish and never let go.

If we look at these external enemies as an attack on us, we almost immediately take a defensive stance and get angry.  If, however, we look at all of these enemies as opportunities to grow and learn, we start down the path with a grateful and empathetic heart, then everything changes.  Perhaps our boss is angry with us because we actually did something wrong?  Maybe we are not living up to our full potential with our critics?  Perhaps it’s time to cut away from all of those acquaintances and focus on a smaller group of true friends?  Sometimes enemies can trigger us to change or rise up out of our complacency?  We should be very thankful and grateful for that.  Wake up calls can be a priceless thing, and you can either be angry for that wake up call or cherish and love it.  Which position is the better one for your growth?  

There have been many individuals that have tried to get in my way in my life.  Individuals that said that I would never make it through SEAL training.  Individuals that said that I would never be successful at my business.  Individuals that said that I would never be able to have a happy marriage.  I thank all of these individuals for coming into my life everyday because they all motivated me to accomplish everything that they said that I could not accomplish.  They were my wakeup calls.  They drove me to get out of bed and accomplish my missions.  Love the wake up calls; if they help you get out of bed, then you can accomplish anything.  

Loving Internal Enemies

We have all heard the terms “the enemy within” or “we are our own worst enemies” at some point in our lives.  What does this mean and how can we love this situation?  I believe that these terms refer to our fear or failure or our insecurities of who we are as individuals.  These situations are biological set points that keep us alive and are 100% normal to feel.  Understanding that these feelings are normal and letting them wash over us is the first step in embracing them and turning them into the field that drives us to succeed.  What steps can you take to mitigate your fears of whatever it is that you are about to attempt?  Perhaps you are fearful of a new job or journey that you are about to embark upon?  That is normal.  The anxiety that you feel inside of you is designed to keep you alive.  Cherish it.  Love it.  Embrace it.  Use that fear and anxiety to help you to plan accordingly and prepare better so that you succeed at whatever it is that you are about to do.  The second feeling may be that of an insecurity that creeps in about who you are as a person.  Am I good enough to do this?  What if I fail?  Then what?  Again, this insecurity is there to help you to become a better person.  Have you left every stone unturned and have you done everything in your power to become the person that you were meant to become?  Have you exercised your God Given ability to help others and truly be the person that you were designed to be?  If you address these questions and start a task list that will help you to achieve your mission your insecurities will melt away.  That’s just how it works.  Embrace the insecurities and don’t ignore them.  They are there to help you to achieve new heights.  By looking at fear and insecurity in that way, we become more confident and better individuals.  When I was a child in school, I wrote a paper once that talked about all of the hobbies that I had started and then quit.  I actually used the word “quit” so many times in the paper that my teacher left me a comment on top of my paper saying that she hoped that I would “stop quitting” in the future.  This hit me like a ton of bricks and it’s something that I have taken with me throughout life.  Why was I quitting and quitting?  I believe that somewhere inside of me, I feared failure and so I would quit before I would have the chance of failing.  Failing became the enemy that I avoided.  Now, I love to fail.  Failure means that you have the opportunity to grow and get better.  Putting yourself in a position where you can fail is the first step to a long road of successes and, more important, personal satisfaction. 

Overcoming Adversity and Loving It

Whether your enemy comes in the form of a person who criticizes you or in the form of your own insecurity or even both, it’s up to you to change the way you perceive the enemy and turn a negative into a positive.  Once you do this a few times, you start to see adversity as a challenge and even a game to be overcome and beaten.  Once this happens you not only overcome the adversity, but you start to enjoy the process of doing it.  Just like water off a duck’s back, the adversity that you feel immediately changes into a challenge and you start to figure out how you will overcome that adversity.  In time, your entire paradigm of life events changes and nothing can affect you anymore.  It’s one thing to overcome adversity.  It’s totally another thing to overcome adversity and truly love the process of doing it.  This is the cornerstone of resilience and what differentiates those that simply “tough things out” and those who practice the art of resilience and truly love overcoming adversity in its tracks.  So it’s no wonder that loving your enemies becomes something that becomes part of you.  Welcome your enemies; they make you stronger and help you to achieve new heights in your life.  

Call to Action

When you see your “enemies” this week, whether they are external or internal, appreciate the fact that they are there.  Take them in and accept the fact that they will always be there.  Begin to see them as a challenge that drives you to greater performance levels.  What are the steps that I need to take in order to go around these challenges?  How do I keep my ego in check to maintain a positive attitude in the face of this adversity?  How do I deconstruct the situation, take my emotions out, and proceed in a logical way that will guarantee a positive outcome?  If you answer these questions, and I know that you can, you will be on the road to loving your enemies, conquering your fears, and improving your performance.

“Lean into it!”

Dr. N