When Your Enemy is Yourself

Enemy is yourself

Does anyone else ever feel like your enemy is yourself? Does anyone else have a voice inside their head saying nasty things about you right now? 

The voice that asks why your jeans don’t fit anymore. The voice that berates you for skipping out on the Zoom version of book club or Bible Study or game night with the extended family. The one that sneers at you for watching Survivor reruns instead of reading something with substance. The one that can’t believe you haven’t exercised even with all this extra time on your hands. The one that wonders if you’ll ever amount to anything, ever be good enough, ever make up for past mistakes. 

I’m a One on the Enneagram (a spiritual personality system which I find really helpful). Ones are traditionally called Perfectionists, though recently people have taken to calling us “Improvers.” Either way, we live with an ideal version of how everything can be made right. The world. Our email inboxes. The messy cubby area. And ourselves. 

There are two telltale signs of being a One. The first is that we rearrange the dirty dishes in the dishwasher if someone else loads it. The second is that we have an “inner critic,” a voice inside our heads that tells us what’s wrong with us (and with other people, and with people in general, but primarily us). It’s not a nice voice, and my personal inner critic became quite vocal a few weeks ago. Thankfully, just as that nasty voice became louder, a friend mentioned that we can use the Psalms to pray against the enemies inside our heads. 

When Your Enemy is Yourself

“Enemies” come up a lot in the Psalms—this ancient prayer book from the Bible. For me, this talk of enemies has usually really foreign and somewhat irrelevant. But enemies inside my head—enemies that tell me lies about myself and lies about God’s love—well, those are quite familiar.

So in this time of social distancing, I have been using the Psalms as a guide to pray against that inner critic and the lies she tells me about myself and other people and God. I have been using the Psalms to pray for God to protect me from those lies and to fill me to overflowing with the truth that I am loved, provided for, secure. 

Whether or not you are a One on the Enneagram, this time of forced isolation/semi-isolation may well bring up the negative voice inside your head. I hope it also brings up the voice of love that whispers the deeper truth, that in our broken, needy state, we are deeply loved.

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