~We need our enemies, our demons, our haters. ~
It’s funny how the eyes, and the mind, will play tricks on us. When I first saw this meme above, I mis-read it. I thought I saw, “Don’t give up on your demons.” rather than what it actually says. I have no idea why I saw it that way, for I’m always in favor of holding tightly onto dreams. I was amused initially, but then I began thinking of how important our demons are for our growth and progress. You may call them demons, enemies, or even haters. But here, those terms will all be used synonymously.
First, just to clarify the meaning of demon as I think of them, a demon is any person or thing that bring a negative influence or impact into someone’s life. Georg Simmel was a German sociologist who studied human behavior extensively. He often articulated how having a common enemy does wonders at uniting a community.
We saw that played out in the communities impacted by the attacks and murders of Jack the Ripper, Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, and in more recent years, the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The unity that persisted in the midst of these events was breathtaking. This got me to thinking and helped me identify three key ways how the demons in our lives can often provide opportunities for self-improvement.
First, many demons won’t hesitate to tell us what’s wrong with us in ways that many of our friends won’t do. Friends tend to sugar-coat criticisms, and they may not always tell you what you need to hear when you need to hear it. You can bet your bottom dollar your enemy will. If you quickly get over the sting of their words, you can use the situation to help you become stronger and grow from the experience.
Second, the right enemy in your midst can do a great job of keeping you focused and motivated to do and be your best. I know this lady I’ll call Mrs. X who had a professional enemy. This enemy was often looking for things to criticize about Mrs. X and at times, would sabotage work projects attempting to make Mrs. X look bad. So consequently, this enemy forced Mrs. X to always be on her toes. Did you see the movie Philadelphia? There was a part of the movie in which Tom Hanks’ character, Andrew Beckett, was in that situation when his colleagues tried to sabotage his work and reputation and caused him to be fired for reasons unrelated to his work competency. If he had realized it beforehand, he could have had contingency plans to thwart any efforts of his enemies to derail his work accomplishments. Knowing you have enemies trying to destroy you keeps you on point.
Finally, some enemies can become your friend. I have one person like that in my life, someone whom I never thought would have made the transition from enemy to friend. Sometimes, people are in the enemy category for misunderstandings, miscommunications, and other reasons that have nothing to do with anything tangible whatsoever. Making a new friend is always nice, if it’s genuine. Once you both can bury the hatchet and put aside the feelings that made you enemies in the first place, you might be surprised what can ensue.
People are often complaining about their enemies and demons. These days they call them haters more than anything else. But those haters may have a purpose. If you figure out what that purpose is rather than merely complain about them so much, you might find they can make you a much better person.