The Enemy Within
One of the main things I’ve learned about life is that before you conquer the external world, you have to master the inner world of your mind.
You might have all kinds of awesome goals.
- “I want to buy a Lambo.”
- “I want to feed starving people.”
- “I want to fly to the moon.”
No problem. The enemy lies not in the outside world. It’s not money, people, or opportunity that’s holding you back. It’s you.
Legendary surfer, Laird Hamilton said it best:
“Make sure your worst enemy doesn’t live between your own two ears.”
It’s easy to dismiss other people’s negative opinions or criticisms. After all, it’s obvious that there will be folks who won’t have your best interests at heart. There are plenty of ways to shut down outside enemies: from ignoring them, to completely disengaging from them. But what about the enemy within you?
Self-criticism is a double-edged sword: when used wisely, it can keep you grounded and always aiming for the best. Let it defeat you however, and it can wound you deeply.
Understand that self-doubt creeps into your system at the weirdest moments. At times you don’t expect it at all.
And all of a sudden, you have a true inner war on your mind.
The enemy within can take many forms. It could be that tiny but nagging voice inside you, always criticizing your every move, keeping you paranoid or afraid of taking the first step. It can feel like a harmless opinion you’ve told yourself many times, such as ‘I’m not that intelligent anyway’ or ‘I won’t be wealthy’.
These may seem like safe sentences everybody has told themselves once in a while. But let it build up, and they can eventually block your potential. Allowing your enemy within to tell you that you’re NOT good enough, that you’ll NEVER be successful, is like crushing your own hopes and dreams. Are you going to let it win…?
How to Fight the Enemy within You
Your mind is more powerful than you think. But it also has limits. Thus, knowing yourself – what drives you, what ails you, and what stirs your soul – is crucial.
Here are some steps to defeating the enemy within you.
And if you still need a more detailed information on each of this points, keep reading. I have made some detailed explanation of each points below.
- See Yourself as a Warrior
First things first: You have to start looking at yourself as a warrior. You’re in constant battle with yourself.
You have to realize that you’re the person who’s in control of your life. It’s not the economy, your family, spouse, boss, or anything else that you can possibly blame. That means one simple thing: This is your life. Own it.
Robert Greene said it best in 33 Strategies of War:
“When something goes wrong, look deep into yourself — not in an emotional way, to blame yourself or indulge your feelings of guilt, but to make sure that you start your next campaign with a firmer step and greater vision.”
Never blame yourself. That’s not what a warrior does. Instead, fight your inner enemy by not giving up.
- Know Yourself
What makes you angry, sad, and fearful? How do you make decisions? What’s most important in your life?
If you want to win your inner battles, it’s obvious that you have to know your enemy.
- Have Zero Expectations
One of the biggest causes of inner conflict is that we have too high expectations. We expect a lot from our spouse, family members, friends, colleagues, boss, etc.
But that’s not the way the world works. You don’t control people. You only control yourself. Never have high expectations. You will only be disappointed.
Instead, expect nothing. Stop expecting that:
- Your friends will always be there for you.
- You will always stay healthy.
- Your family will always be with you.
- You will always make money.
Now, you’re free. Everything you get is a gift.
- You’re Not Perfect: Accept It
Never beat yourself up for making mistakes. This is life. It’s unpredictable. It makes no sense. Shit happens.
When you try to be perfect, you’re always at war with yourself. You’re never at peace. Nothing is good enough.
You will never get to enjoy life for what it is. Even though it makes no sense; there’s still enough beauty in life. You just have to take off your tunnel vision goggles and see it.
- Never Burn Yourself Out
Sun Tzu, the most famous war strategist in history, once said:
“In the practical art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy’s country whole and intact; to shatter and destroy it is not so good.”
Always keep in mind that you’re worth more when you’re at full strength. You might want to achieve something so bad that you put all your energy into it. You work hard. Don’t sleep.
But here’s the thing: You might win a hard fought battle, but not the war. Life is long. Don’t burn out before you reach the end. That’s pure self-sabotage. Instead, save yourself.
- Never Question Life
I get it. You work hard, hard, hard. But nothing happens. No results.
You ask: “What Am I Doing This For?”
- No one reads your work.
- You’re never promoted at work.
- No one buys your product.
- No one hires you.
- No one cares.
Once you have one negative thought like that, the floodgates will open.
It’s the same as binge eating: “Ah fuck it, I’ve had one spoon of ice cream, I might as well eat the whole jar.”
Don’t get all existential on yourself. There’s no point in doing that. It’s not helping you. Never question life. Never think about it. It’s a discussion you will never win. It’s best to avoid this war. Not all wars can be won.
- Believe In Yourself
How do you believe in yourself?
“Affirmations,” says the ignorant self-help guru aka life coach.
“I’m the best. I’m the best. I’m the best.”
That stuff makes me laugh. It’s not the 80s anymore. You can’t tell that to people.
You also can’t say things like that to yourself if you don’t truly believe it. Deep down we always know that we’re full of shit.
Lying to yourself will not help. Lying to others will also not help.
Work, practice, see results, and believe in your abilities.
Not putting in the work? You develop no skills. Hence, no belief. So go and work. That’s where it all starts.
- Pick the Slow Road to Success
“Get rich quick.”
We love fake promises because they distract us from reality. You know better. There’s no such thing as overnight success.
Even if someone promises you the quick road, opt out, and pick the longer, and harder road to your destination. I promise you this: You will feel 10X more fulfilled when you get there.
The lazy person is always looking for the next best thing. You don’t care about the destination; you love the journey. No matter how hard it is.
- Stop Making Assumptions
Never make conclusions based on assumptions. Always look at facts. Don’t have the facts? Don’t make assumptions.
Also, ignore conventional wisdom. Most stuff you hear and read around you is not true or very subjective. Avoid inner conflict by looking at facts. Always.
- Keep Moving
The Greek philosopher Aristotle believed that movement was the main thing to life.
No matter what you do, never stand still. Staying still is the same as moving backward. Because life doesn’t wait.
Mental toughness is created by always plowing forward. By facing your adversity head on.
“What does not move is dead.”
– Robert Greene
You don’t become mentally strong by ignoring your inner troubles and looking at your Instagram feed. No, your battles are not fought on your smartphone. You fight by looking in the mirror.
The battles you fight with yourself are very real. And if you arm yourself with the right strategies, you will win.
Why should you always fight? Napoleon Bonaparte said it best:
“Death is nothing, but to live defeated is to die every day.”
You will never be defeated as long as you keep fighting.
Remember: No one is perfect, and everybody needs help once in a while. What matters is that you don’t stop on the road you chose. Whether you’re aiming for success, or simply to be happy, rest but DO NOT quit!
Fight it, conquer it, and then use it.