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  • In Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Friedrich Nietzsche said, “you yourself will always be the worst

  • enemy you can encounter; you yourself lie in wait for yourself in caves and forests.”

  • In my opinion, Nietzsche shared an important insight with us: we really are our own worst

  • enemies.

  • So I'm gonna explore this idea through a dialogue.

  • --- At the end of his show, after everyone else

  • had gone home, in the middle of a circus tent, under a sky lit by the moon and the stars,

  • an accomplished acrobat (A) was approached by a young student (S).

  • The young student, looking distraught, introduced himself to the acrobat before opening up.

  • The following conversation ensued.

  • S: I want to be an acrobat and walk the tightrope, but I'm afraid.

  • I'm afraid about making a living, and I'm afraid about what the people close to me will

  • think.

  • I know they'll judge me.

  • They won't respect me.

  • They'll make me feel small and foolish for joining the circus, but I feel the wire calling

  • to me.

  • What do I do?

  • A: You will always be your own worst enemy.

  • S: How?

  • Don't you see?

  • I wanna be a great acrobat like you, but society doesn't value artists.

  • How will I make a living?

  • And on top of that, my family and friends will judge me for doing what they don't

  • consider to be real work.

  • I feel like everyone is holding me back.

  • A: No one's holding you back.

  • What's holding you back is your own fear.

  • You fear society not valuing you, and you fear the disapproval of your loved ones.

  • Am I right?

  • S: I guess you're right, but what can I do?

  • They're the ones causing my fears.

  • A: They're not the ones causing your fears.

  • Your fears arise from your thoughts.

  • You think that if you become an acrobat, no one will pay.

  • And if no one pays you, you fear ending up on the streets.

  • Is that right?

  • S: Right.

  • A: You think if you become an acrobat, your family and friends won't respect you.

  • So you fear being disrespected.

  • Is that correct?

  • S: That's correct.

  • And I know I shouldn't feel this way, but I do.

  • A: There's no value in judging how you feel.

  • Your feelings are always valid.

  • But let's keep looking deeper into it.

  • So your fears arise from your thoughts.

  • Do you agree?

  • S: I agree.

  • A: So where do your thoughts arise from?

  • S: I'm not sure.

  • A: They arise from your desires.

  • S: What do you mean?

  • A: Well you're thinking right now.

  • You just used thought to ask me a question.

  • And what was the source of that thought?

  • It was your desire to get clarification, wasn't it?

  • S: Yeah, I guess that's right.

  • A: So you agree, thought arises from desire.

  • Let's look into your desires.

  • You want society to value artists more because you believe that will help you get paid.

  • Is that right?

  • S: Right.

  • A: And you want everyone to respect you for your career.

  • Is that right?

  • S: Right.

  • A: OK, now I need you to listen carefully.

  • So your desire leads to thought, and your thought leads to fear.

  • So if your desire goes away, the thought goes away, and if the thought goes away, so does

  • the fear.

  • And when the fear drops away, you get out of your own way.

  • You stop being an enemy to yourself.

  • Do you understand?

  • S: I get it now.

  • But how do I drop desire?

  • A: See that's the trap: you can't drop desire.

  • Wanting to drop desire is itself a desire.

  • Fighting fire with fire only produces more fire.

  • But desires fall away on their own through understanding.

  • So let's look at your own understanding of the world.

  • S: OK.

  • A: So you believe that society doesn't value artists, and if society doesn't value artists,

  • that means you'll never make any money.

  • Is that right?

  • S: That's right.

  • A: Well let's examine that.

  • If you sell water in a desert, does it matter what people think of you?

  • S: I guess not.

  • A: So why does it matter if society values artists or not?

  • People value anything they perceive as an absolute necessity.

  • If something is a necessity for you, you better believe it will be a necessity for someone

  • else too.

  • And if the things you create are a necessity to someone, they will pay you for it.

  • S: That makes sense.

  • A: Now, you also believe that if you have everyone's respect, you'll be happy.

  • Is that right?

  • S: Right.

  • A: People respect you when you live according to their values.

  • But if you live according to someone else's values, you'll never respect yourself.

  • You'll become resentful, and you'll regret not living out your dreams.

  • But if you live according to your own values, not everyone is going to respect you.

  • The truth is it's impossible to have everyone's respect while also respecting yourself.

  • But if you live according to your own values, you at least have the chance of attracting

  • people into your life who respect you for who you are.

  • S: You're completely right.

  • Thank you for talking me through this.

  • I feel different.

  • A: Are you still afraid?

  • S: I have no reason to be.

  • If I create something of absolute necessity, people will pay me no matter what my career

  • is.

  • And you're right, if I don't do this, I will become resentful, and I'll always

  • wonderwhat-if”.

  • I'd rather follow my own values and attract the right people into my life rather than

  • trying to earn the respect of people I don't agree with.

  • A: Now that your fears are gone, what's stopping you from acting?

  • S: Nothing.

  • ---

  • Nietzsche said that we are our worst own enemies, and I explored the meaning behind this idea

  • through a dialogue.

  • More often than not, what stands in our way is our own fear.

  • Our fear arises from our thoughts, our thoughts arise from our desires, our desires rise and

  • fall based on our understanding of the world, and our understanding changes through contact

  • with reality.

  • The student approached the acrobat with a certain understanding of the world.

  • This understanding gave way to his desires, which gave way to his thoughts, which gave

  • way to his fears.

  • But once the acrobat showed him the reality of things, the students understanding changed.

  • And the change in his understanding led to a change in his desires, which led to a change

  • in his thoughts, which caused his fears to vanish.

  • If you understand all of this, you understand why we are our own worst enemies.

  • But at the end of the day, this is just my opinion and understanding of Nietzsche's

  • words, not advice.

  • Feel free to use this information however you like, and if you have a different take

  • on Nietzsche's words, I'd love to hear

  • your perspective in the comments.

In Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Friedrich Nietzsche said, “you yourself will always be the worst

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Nietzsche - You Are Your Own Worst Enemy

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    Summer posted on 2021/08/13
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