Know thy enemy and then, know thyself

I finally watched the Borgia series on Netflix.

One of the main characters is Cesare Borgia, eldest son of the future Pope Alexander VI and Vannozza dei Cattanei. The entire family has often been vilified. Some say this was simply part of the times – they weren’t the only family of power like this.

There are many things written about the Borgia family, and about Cesare in particular. Machiavelli based his book The Prince on him. He was seen by Machiavelli and others as a military genius.

Maybe so, but in the process, he used his position and connections to destroy other people’s lives. Lots of other people. It may have been part of the times, but that doesn’t justify his destructiveness and lack of human consideration. And, to be fair, it’s also said that his family also supported minorities who would otherwise have been wiped out.

So, it’s ironic that the writer and creator of this series, Tom Fontana, gave Cesare the lines from Sun Tsu, immortal writer of The Art Of War, that reveal the secret to winning any battle against our enemies, be they external or internal.

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.

So eloquently said. So easy to see. And sometimes, so hard to practice.. Especially if that enemy is within.

I have a belief that it’s only when we conquer our inner enemies that we can truly be master of our own lives. Imagine the following:

3 people. All three grew up experiencing exactly the same things (I know, highly unlikely, but I ask that you suspend your judgment in the service of considering the point I’m exploring with you).

They – all 3 at the same time and in the same place – witness an injustice against a stranger that reminds them of something that happened in their own lives. Let’s say that they witness a young child being bullied.

The first person is horrified and becomes consumed with rage, ready to wade in and pulverize the bully, knowing that it will actually make him or her feel worse after they calm down and regain some control. The second is terrified and wants only to run and hide until it’s all over, knowing they’ll feel mortified with what they see as their own moral cowardice afterwards. The third might feel repulsion and rage, but is able to consider in a split second how best to respond in order to support the child, and help the person bullying to come to terms with the situation in a better way.

Both the 1st and the 2nd person aren’t able to effectively intervene because they are blinded by their own inner war. The third has come to know herself and has – at the very least – won that particular battle.  She knows this enemy because she knows herself.

Which would you rather be?

The Nobody Sandwich – Chris Paracox

Quote of the Week
Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.
― C.G. Jung

At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website or contact me directly at . Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist and Life Coach.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at .


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