Being your own enemy. This is definitely one of those topics that I can raise my hand and admit that I once owned a T-shirt, bumper sticker and coffee mug with that exact message on it.
What's really a trip is, 15 years ago, if someone were to ask me if I was my own worst enemy, I would've looked at them like they were crazy. But when I stop and think about what my life looked like at the time—from my relationship, to my so-called friendships, to things that I tolerated both personally as well as professionally—I definitely didn't like myself very much. I say this because settling for less than I deserve is a blaring sign of self-hatred—of being one's own worst enemy.
Why do I say that? What might surprise you is one definition of hate is "unwilling" and one definition of enemy is "to engage in antagonistic activities against another". To antagonize is to "act in opposition".
If I continue to participate in anything that is unwilling to give or opposing of the kind of love and respect that I am worthy of, there is some part of me who doesn't love or even like myself very much.
For years, that's just how I lived. I would consciously choose to interact with people, places, things and ideas that were not willing to support or celebrate me; in fact, many were in direct opposition of those things (if you can relate, check out Trent Shelton's "Refuse to Be Used" message. It'll preach!).
If this is somehow resonating, but you can't quite put your finger on what you're doing that's proving you too are your own worst enemy, I'll share with you the list I came up with that has served as a series of light bulb moments for me. It's my personal experience that once you know how you're not loving/liking yourself, you can start doing the opposite of those things. Before you know it, you'll stop being your own worst enemy and instead, you'll become your very biggest friend (and fan).
1. You’re Self-Deprecating
There's a woman I once knew who I really liked. She was funny, smart and supportive. But she was also the equivalent of fingernails on the chalkboard because not one conversation went by when she didn't say something self-deprecating. If she wasn't talking about how fat she was, she was going on about how she was "doomed" to remain single she was due to how undesirable she found herself to be.
First of all, she wasn't "fat" or unattractive. Real talk, most of the time, I couldn't tell if she really believed those things about herself or she was fishing for a compliment (which is also super-annoying). But to even be of the mindset to constantly put that kind of energy into the universe is unhealthy.
Remember how I said that an enemy acts in direct opposition to you? If you want to feel good about yourself, why would you say things that are anything but? Especially if they are words you wouldn't tolerate anyone else saying about you.
2. You Have Toxic Patterns (and You Justify Them)
"Toxic" is the kind of word that is tossed around a lot, but I wonder if we really thought about what it means. Something, or someone, that is toxic is poisonous. When something, or someone, is poisonous, it is trying to harm you. Consciously doing things that compromise your health, cause you to be emotionally unstable or put your spirit man in influx and then finding ways to justify those habits is another indicator that you are your own worst enemy.
I'll give you an example. You know you're in a toxic relationship. Your partner is super narcissistic. You find yourself doing most of the work. They are unreliable (if not straight-up shady). You're unhappy more than you're happy. It's stagnant. But when someone brings all of this to your attention, you find a billion reasons why you're fine with staying.
Don't let the media and love songs lie to you. True love doesn't hurt. If you're in a relationship that is causing you pain and you won't even entertain getting out, your partner isn't your worst enemy…you are. Because if you didn't tolerate the poison, it wouldn't keep affecting you.
3. No One Can Tell You Anything (That You Don’t Want to Hear)
A phrase that gets on my nerves is "If you like it, I love it." We all know what it means. It means that even if you're doing something that warrants major side-eye, in order to avoid confrontation, I'll just say I love it so that we can agree to disagree.
That's not how a true friend should approach suspect matters, though. If you're being selfish, manipulative, mean, hypocritical, negative or anything else that's not helping you to thrive, people who care about you should be willing and able to bring this to your attention. You know what else? If you truly like yourself, you'll be open to hearing it.
Someone who can receive compliments all day but not one bit of constructive criticism is their own worst enemy.
I can speak from very personal experience that it's usually the criticism—not the compliments—that help you to grow anyway. And someone who doesn't want to become a better person, no matter how uncomfortable it might be, is someone who dislikes themselves more than they would probably ever think that they do.
4. You’re Not Intentional About Thriving in Your Purpose
Author Roy T. Bennett once said, "If you have a strong purpose in life, you don't have to be pushed. Your passion will drive you there." Your purpose is not just something you enjoy or something you do well. Your purpose is literally the reason why you exist on this planet.
If you're spending—which is really more like wasting—precious time, effort and energy chasing after any person, place, thing or idea that will not complement your purpose, this is another sign that you're your own worst enemy. Short of your health and your relationship with the Most High, nothing and no one should make you want to deny or betray your purpose. If you're allowing something or someone to do that, it is a true sign of having a lack of love for yourself and the very cause of your existence.
5. You Don’t Value Your Time
For me, probably the biggest indication that I was my own worst enemy is how I allowed other people to misuse my time. I would tolerate folks being perpetually late (not five minutes either; more like 30). I would not speak up when plans constantly got canceled at the last minute. I would let everyone's emergencies become my own to the point that I would fail to get my own tasks done. I would consistently donate my gifts and talents to the point where folks felt entitled to them.
Hmph. Don't even get me started on the relationship tip. There are some people I would pine away for, for years on end, thinking that if I gave them more time, it would convince them to move forward (with me).
Sometimes, there is a fine line between being patient and being a doormat.
How can you know the difference? Here come the definitions of "enemy" again. When you aren't your own enemy and others aren't either, there is a flow to life. You love yourself too much to not value how you utilize your time and others care about you too much to not be willing to appreciate it too.
It's hard to be your own ally until you recognize how you're being your own enemy. Hopefully, this provided some food for thought to make some necessary adjustments.
Life is hard enough without at least you not being on your side. If no one else has your back, please make sure that you do.
Feature image by Getty Images.