“If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.” ~ Pema Chödrön
Nemesis: the inescapable agent of someone’s downfall.
The magnetic attraction to our nemesis is uncanny. They’re usually our polar opposite and seemingly impossible to get away from.
This is because we have something to learn from them.
For many years I lived my life, going about my business peacefully. La-di-da. Everything was rainbows and butterflies until, one day I came face to face with my arch enemy. I would have never guessed what an important part of my life this antagonistic character would be.
Wow! Talk about being confronted with a challenging person.
He was my boss and impossible to please. Harsh criticism was the norm peppered with just enough praise to keep me motivated.
I learned a lot during those years. He was a genius and a master at his trade who willingly taught me all of his best tricks. He had a lot to teach me and I knew that the only way to reap his wealth of knowledge was to toughen up. I quickly grew thick skin and let his mean words roll right off my back.
The most important thing I learned was how to compose myself when faced with a jerk.
Eight things I learned from my enemy.
1. Be a good sport.
There are plenty of people in the world who are going to give us a hard time. The best thing to do in these situations is to take ourselves a little less seriously.
2. Stand up for others.
He was not only nasty to me, but also to the other employees. One of his favorite things to do was to talk smack about my coworkers. The best way to counter this was to hold my head high and defend my colleagues.
When we are continually subjected to poor treatment, the best defense is to arm ourselves in a coat of tolerance. Tolerance is an acquired skill that takes practice to get right.
“In the practice of tolerance, one’s enemy is the best teacher.”
~ Dalai Lama
Many times my faults he pointed out were valid. This gave me a chance to own my mistakes and embrace being perfectly human. Everyone makes mistakes.
5. The best way to win an argument.
I am not a fighter by nature. Quite often, my rival would raise confrontational subjects. I knew he was just looking for a fight and decided the best course of action was not to engage. Even if I strongly disagreed with what he was saying, I would counter by saying, “You’re probably right.” This ruined his chances of a fight and I was able to keep working.
I am gifted with the ability to see the best in everyone. There is a basic goodness, called bodhichitta, within each of us. I found things to love about him.
“The way to love someone is to lightly run your finger over that person’s soul until you find a crack, and then gently pour your love into that crack.” ~ Keith Miller
An abrasive boss can demoralize us and crush our morale. There is something to be said about being able to hoist ourselves up by our bootstraps and stand upright, despite being criticized.
8. The difference between compassion and idiot compassion.
Every behavior has a purpose. Being nice and helpful to others is good. This is called compassion. Helping others at expense to ourselves is called idiot compassion. This does not serve anyone.
As with any relationship, our enemy, is our mirror.
When we reflect on the lessons we’re learning from our enemy, it’s crystal clear to see the parts of ourselves that need the most work. If played properly, our rival can be our greatest teacher.
“Always forgive your enemies—nothing annoys them so much.”
~ Oscar Wilde
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Editor: Bryonie Wise