It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.~ Sun Tzu, The Art Of War, Chapter 3
Much of life is preparation and calculation. Luck is where preparation meets opportunity. In the 6th century BCE, Chinese general and military strategist Sun Tzu understood these principles, and wrote an entire manuscript called “The Art Of War”, which has been studied and translated since then. These principles for dealing with the “enemy” in times of war can be applied to daily life situations where “the enemy” can be considered as any adversary- any giant or pitfall- in our daily lives and personal development. Sometimes “the enemy” is us.
When the enemy is perceived to be external, our knee jerk reaction is to fight. We launch an all out, self-righteous attack, usually driven by a need to pacify our own ego. We feel slighted by the “other”. Our feelings have been hurt and we need to satisfy our feelings of revenge and self-pity. The universe must make it right! Chaaaaaaaaaarggggggeeeeee!!!!
How often do we take the time to understand our “enemy”?
Sometimes the things we see in others that annoy us and drive us to anger are the same things with which we struggle, but we simply don’t see in ourselves- or don’t wish to see.
Sometimes the enemy is ourselves.
So many times, we let our fears, prejudices and bad attitudes get in the way and block our progress. It’s difficult when we are in these negative thought patterns to be the creatures of light, creativity and blessing we are called to be.
When it is clear that someone- an annoying coworker, a bad boss, a disloyal “friend” or companion, is causing the trouble, we have a few options. We can attempt to make our voices heard through direct communication and active problem solving. As Sun Tzu states: know the enemy. What kind of person are you dealing with? Is he/she easy to talk to? Irresponsible? Irrational? Stubborn? Get to know your enemy. Come up with a plan of attack and then proceed. Speak with a mentor or a life coach for help figuring out different scenarios. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, especially when dealing with difficult personalities. Remember, people can be trained. People will always treat us exactly the way we tell them we want to be treated. Understand what your enemy likes and dislikes and use those things to your advantage. Stand up for yourself. Say or do the unexpected thing. Do what you can and must to restore the balance of power- so you’re not giving your personal power away in exchange for a paycheck, or a roof over your head, or an external feeling of validation. Do not be afraid of people. People are all the same, and sometimes even the most ridiculous ones simply need someone to stop them in their tracks and remind them (ever so nicely) to get their heads out of their butts!
Oftentimes in the midst of problem solving, we realize the problem isn’t necessarily the other person- it’s our perception of the problem and the way we are choosing to handle it. Here’s where asking for help is of benefit- sometimes after having the opportunity to vent and get all our negative feelings out in the open, we can clearly see what steps we can take for ourselves so as not to further complicate the situation, and to make ourselves feel better. Talk to a friend, a close relative, a mentor or sponsor and ask for guidance or feedback, or at the very least, to be heard. Don’t practice keeping your feelings bottled up, otherwise you will drive yourself insane!
If the “enemy” is a situation- a job where you’re no longer comfortable, or a living situation that is no longer ideal- the approach is two fold: 1: Understand what it is about yourself that needs to change so you don’t repeat the same pattern again in the future, and 2: Carefully plan your exit, knowing that this is not where you are supposed to be. Don’t feel badly about it- you do not owe anyone an apology for your happiness! If you make your desires known to the universe, it will conspire to bring you exactly what you are looking for- the new job opportunity, new living arrangements, a new-found respect for single-living- whatever it will take to restore you to your happy, balanced self.
For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill
The entire point of life is not to go through it fighting battle after battle. Some people take great joy in being the warrior type and in truth there are some of us who are destined to be such. For the most part, however, I believe we are created to work past that part of our nature where we always respond in either fight or flight. If we train ourselves to know ourselves and understand others, we will get to the point where these fights become more and more infrequently; the place where we live and maneuver our relationships and situations as skilled generals, where we earn respect from others because we have mastered ourselves.
I’ve decided to call this series Lessons From The Lighthouse, in homage to the imagery found in the film, Life Of Pi. These lessons have served as an inspiration to me in my personal growth and development in the past year and half, and now, I’m sharing them with you. I hope that they are instrumental in helping you find your inner ability to create miracles in your own life.
Light & Love!
To find the entire series, click here.