What if you could love your internal enemies?
What if you could learn to love your internal enemies? This is a question I started asking myself about three years ago as I stepped into the ring of professional counseling.
I grew up learning this mainstay tenant of Christianity, ‘love your enemies’. And I was given a lot of direction on how to treat others outside of myself with respect and compassion. I was taught not to judge others or to gossip or to slander them. To treat others with a great amount of love, generosity and grace. And I’m super grateful for that, I think that’s great, the problem was I didn’t have any good strategies for how to treat myself.
So as life got harder and I tried my hand at the whole adulting thing for the first time I couldn’t figure out how to take what I had learned about how to treat others and translate that into love and care for myself. It started to feel impossible to love enemies outside of myself when I felt fraught with my own enemies inside that would constantly judge me, criticize me and make me feel like shit. Then make sure I felt bad for the ways I was failing to love others and live up to my moral standards. Maybe you can relate? I’m talking about the internal enemies that show up as a critical voice to beat you up and tell you you’re not good enough or that you haven’t tried hard enough. then assure you that you’re certainly not worth other people’s time or attention. You might know a perfectionist that runs you ragged inside demanding you to keep up with impossible standards or else face the wrath of the critic. I’m talking about the internal enemy of depression that sideswipes you and keeps you from accomplishing the goals you have set out. I’m talking about the internal enemy of anxiety that wreaks havoc on your nervous system, your gut and essentially paralyzes you with incessant worry and what-ifs.
For me, I didn’t have a way to name or understand what was going on inside and so the easiest thing for me to do was to believe I just sucked at life. I didn’t realize I was waking up and battling a host of enemies inside myself each day until a counselor helped me start to give names to the pieces inside of me. She helped me turn towards these scary parts of myself so I could get curious about why they were there. I was amazed to see that the more I connected to these harsh parts of my soul (ie began to love my own enemies inside) the more they began to soften and relax. In time, their intensity has been shifted into more productive endeavors. Some of them have become my greatest allies. My critic can often times coach me instead of berate me. My perfectionist part helps me see that I am good enough. And The journey of waking up each day and loving my own enemies has slowly brought more peace and harmony to the war that once waged inside.
I really believe that until we learn the art of ‘loving our enemies, AS YOU LOVE YOURSELF’ it will be nearly impossible to show up and impact the people you love in a sustainable, joyful way.
That’s part of why I love helping people love and heal their internal enemies. I see it as the staring point for impacting your corner of the world in a meaningful way.
What do you think?? Share more about where you’re at in your own journey and any questions you have about the process of loving your own enemies inside by clicking the link below.
All the best,