“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles”
– Sun Tzu
The biggest problem with problems is the unknown. The worry and anxiety that sets in, the sheer blinding panic, is not the result of an objective assessment of the situation. Instead, those debilitating feelings and emotions are the result of missing information that is preying on your mind. It’s the missing details, the depths trouble that have yet to be revealed in your mind.
You could say, the biggest battle you will ever fight will be with yourself.
As in fighting, as in life, it is not usually the case that challenges and bumps in the road are insurmountable – though this is definitely how we seem to be programmed to see them (at least, for the most part). The biggest part of any challenge is convincing yourself you are a person worthy of it. Changing your focus in line with this alternative perception allows you to have control over the challenge, and more importantly how you view the challenge and your ability to not only meet, but exceed it.
Sun Tzu was an brilliant philosopher, studied by millions across the mighty span of history. His quote featured above is as true and poignant today as it has been since it left his mind to come forth and inspire the world all those years ago. Regardless of the problem, of it’s size and scope, of it’s breadth and depth, you must know it utterly and completely – this is the only path to overcoming it and growing from it. You must stare it straight in the face and, against all odds, study it’s features. Get to know it’s character – look deep into it’s eyes. If it’s core is dark and void of hope, then go there and find out exactly how void it is. Stroke it’s face – feel the potential pain it threatens, and embrace it – whether a challenge or fear, know it until you can know it now more because this and this alone gives you power.
Now look inside yourself. You have no choice but be honest about who you are, and what you stand for – you can bullshit yourself all day long if that’s the game you want to play, but we both know where that will lead you. It takes courage to look deep inside yourself like that – to stare yourself in the face and see all that you are. I know. You will see darkness in there – it’s in all of us – and you will see the purest of light. Most people just focus on the light, whilst simultaneously ignoring the stuff they don’t like. This is naive, and the result is stunted spiritual growth. That’s not knowing yourself, that’s knowing yourself selectively and failing to take responsibility for your own personal self improvement. As a friend said to me today – “the word ‘responsibility’ literally means to be able to respond effectively”. Paying attention to, and taking responsibility for yourself as a whole and complete being is the only way to truly know thyself. Who are you when your back’s up against the wall? Do you know? Do you have any control over that person? A lot of people don’t, falling straight their primal ‘fight or flight’ response and succumbing the powerful effects of their endocrine system, and the related antiquated operating system that governed us at a time when we had to worry about being eaten by lions. By all accounts, not a state of mind that is of much use in modern day struggles, so take my advice and leave it at the door.
Know your enemy and know yourself – become one with your challenges in life and instead of defeating you they will build you up, make you stronger and help you grow. In this day and age, being ignorant is a choice; know everything, and run from nothing – be the sponge that soaks in everything life has to offer you, and use the abundance of tools available to you. Learn from everything; light and dark are equally excellent teachers, and we have much to learn from both – do not run from either. Believe in yourself – the only limits on your life are those which you impose upon it; don’t make that mistake.
The bigger the challenge the better; the bigger the challenge, the more worthy of it you are.