Sunday, June 07, 2009

Your Own Worst Enemy

It is often said that the key to martial arts is that there is no victory and no defeat - you can neither win nor be beaten. This is especially true as we dig deeper into Buddhist links between martial arts and spirituality - the closest thing to religion we have in martial arts.

However, this does not mean our lives are without enemies.
I contend that often, the worst enemy we face is ourselves.

It is we who know our own weaknesses, our own temptations, and our own shortcomings.
It is we who can destroy all of our own achievements, harm our loved ones, and ruin our relationships. We have the power to do this in a way that is far more destructive than an external foe ever could.

Why? Many times this happens due to feelings of inadequacy or a lack of self-worth. We feel deep in our hearts that we don't truly deserve all the success and good things we have. We hate ourselves and in doing so, subconsciously force ourselves to destroy everything that would make us feel good.

Is this you? I know it is me. At least sometimes it is. Maybe sometimes it is for all of us.
I want to believe that martial arts training, meditation, and proper health can be a great way to keep the bad feelings from coming. Negative actions lead to negative spirals, and positive actions to positive spirals. Sometimes, it just may not be enough. I am sure that if we could talk to the people that make up the suicides, mentally ill, and chronic abusers we would find that they have in common a low sense of self-esteem and a belief that they "deserve" the bad things that happen to them, and can never escape them. These people are truly their own worst enemies.

If this is you, really you, then I can say I understand you. I have been my own worst enemy most of my life. Many times this caused me to destroy relationships that were good for me (or get into relationships that were bad for me), push loved ones away, lose jobs, give in to my obsessions, engage in any number of harmful and self-destructive behaviors, and even attempt suicide (glad I failed). I know what it is like to feel a devil inside you that you cannot control, laughing whenever another part of your life is taken away.

In my case, much of my trouble still comes from unresolved anger at being abandoned when I was an infant, growing up in a foster home, and generally never feeling as good as the other kids who had "normal" families (whatever that is). I cannot make excuses, and I have been far luckier than most kids like me. I even made my peace with my birth parents, and at 42 I am starting to understand the tough decisions they had to make to try to get the best life for me they could. Intellectually I understand. However, emotionally I have to admit I still have a long way to go. I have serious anger management/stress management issues, and this affects me and those around me. I have to take it day by day, and I am a difficult person to be around much of the time.

Don't believe you are alone. Train hard. Stay the course. More importantly, talk to someone or seek professional help. Do it before it gets worse. Do it before you do something you cannot undo. The life you save may be your own. The life you save may go on to save many more.
Trust me, the world is a much better place with you in it. Even if you don't believe that, I DO.
Give me a chance to convince you. Maybe we can convince each other.

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