15 Unexpected Lessons You Can Learn From Your Worst Enemy

15 Unexpected Lessons You Can Learn From Your Worst Enemy Shutterstock

In life, there are bound to be people who get under our skin. Sometimes, that dislike blossoms into full-blown hate, and you declare the person your worst enemy. You may want this person to fall off the face of the earth so you never have to see them again, but before you banish them, hear me out. What if having an enemy could be a positive experience? What if it could teach you valuable lessons about yourself and interpersonal skills that will help you grow? It may seem weird, but it’s true. If you want to get a little something out of the thorn in your side before you kick them to the curb, consider these 15 unexpected lessons you can learn from your worst enemy.

1. They increase your appreciation of peace.

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If you’ve ever been sick for a week, the first day you start feeling better will make you want to sing. You might feel like you’ve never felt well before that day, and it can be such a breath of fresh air to finally feel normal. Being in a situation with someone you dislike can be the same situation; when you are finally free of the person, you can breathe again. This is an unlikely lesson to appreciate peace when you have it and value your good relationships.

2. They can teach you about your weaknesses.

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Some say that the things you dislike about others are what you dislike most about yourself. If this is true, there’s a lot we can learn about ourselves, our weaknesses, and our faults from our enemies. Using the things that we dislike about others as a mirror for introspection will make you a better person overall, and you have your enemies to thank for the glow-up.

3. They can reinforce your principles.

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Someone contradicting our core values and principles can be a big reason we dislike them. However, we can use their perceived lack of values as a way to reinforce our own. Seeing what happens when you abandon your morals and how disappointing or frustrating it can be can be a reason to keep on the straight and narrow. We can treat them as an anti-hero or an antithesis of the person we strive to be, which can be extremely motivating.

4. They can help you develop resilience.

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Having someone you butt heads with can feel like pushing a boulder up a hill. Each day, there are new challenges, and if this person is often present in your life, it can feel like an inescapable challenge dealing with them. This teaches us a lesson about resilience. If we don’t show up then, in a way, they win. We can use this drive to beat them or at least continue our fight as a way to bounce back. We don’t encourage running purely out of spite, but if your hater can be your motivator, more power to you.

5. They can help you be a better communicator.

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Disagreeing with someone can sometimes mean confrontation. It can also mean long, demanding tasks that require a lot of savvy and emotional intelligence to navigate. This is another lesson you can learn from your enemy: the power of effective communication. You can learn to negotiate with them or tell them how you feel. If you can do it with the guy you hate, you can do it with anyone.

6. They can teach you strategy.

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Who doesn’t get a kick out of one-upping their rival? Once you learn how to put them in check, you feel on top of the world, and surely, it was no easy feat. This strategic upending would never have come to pass were it not for them. Having an enemy makes you feel the need to create new and crafty ways to outsmart or avoid them. This strategy can be applied to any social scenario, and being mindful of the threads to pull can give you an upper hand in many ways.

7. They might teach you cultural awareness.

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Imagine you have found someone you dislike because they don’t have good manners. They never say excuse me or bless you, and you think it’s downright annoying. Consider then what might have caused them to behave that way. Perhaps their poor upbringing isn’t to blame; they may come from a cultural background where those things aren’t done. Thinking this way can disarm some of the blame you place on these individuals, but that can be a good thing in the long term. Awareness of other customs or cultural norms can make us more empathetic and worldly.

8. They can teach you empathy.

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Looking outside of ourselves and considering other people’s perspectives is a mark of maturity and emotional intelligence. Having this empathy can be easy when a perspective is not so different from your own, but what about when you are at odds with someone? It can be much more difficult, but even when it is, it’s essential to try to see everyone’s position. Empathizing with your enemy may be one of the most challenging tasks you’ll ever do, but that makes it all the more critical for your growth. Learning empathy in conflict is a skill that will help you many times over when dealing with people in the future.

9. They can help you find your true allies.

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When you have someone who is constantly harassing or bothering you, it can be a lonely situation. This is when it would be wise for you to seek out allies to help fortify your position. It’s as they say: the enemy of my enemy is my friend. You’ll be grateful for those who stand by you in a trying time or take your side when arguments arise, making you closer.

10. They make you better at setting boundaries.

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Bickering constantly with a rival is not appropriate, especially in a professional environment. If you hate someone in your workplace, you may need to make concessions to keep the peace. This is where learning to set boundaries comes in. If you make it clear what sort of behavior you won’t tolerate from them up front, violation of that contract is grounds for action. It shouldn’t be on you alone to maintain the peace, so setting boundaries is not only a way to manage conduct but also a way to protect yourself should anything arise.

11. They can give you motivation.

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If your enemy is constantly trying to one-up you, you can use your beef to push you forward. Motivation comes from several places, and not all of them have to be altruistic or pure. At the end of the day, if it gets the job done and puts you in a better position, let that hate burn, baby burn!

12. They can make you stronger.

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It takes a lot of fortitude to get back up when someone puts you down. Enemies serve as a constant threat and challenge to overcome, and stepping up and facing them can make you stronger. You might stop at nothing to defeat your rival, including pushing your mind, body, and emotions to their peak. Moreover, whether you win or lose the duel, you have become stronger due to the many lessons you’ve learned and the challenges you’ve faced along the way.

13. They can teach you when to let go.

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If you’ve been going back and forth with someone to the point where you’re completely wiped out, there is a lesson to be learned. It can be challenging to be the bigger person and step away even when you want nothing more than to keep fighting. However, you tax yourself emotionally and mentally when you hold onto anger and grief. Enemies teach us the value of peace and that there’s a time and a place to let things go. Though your rivalry may end at this point, there will come a time when you will look back and feel grateful you gave yourself peace of mind.

14. They help you be assertive and diplomatic.

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When dealing with people, finding the right balance between asking for what you want and asking nicely can be tricky. Abandon the former, and you become a walking doormat; ignore the latter, and you come off as rude or crass. Finding the balance between saying what you mean and ensuring you deliver it with proper social grace can be difficult to master. However, dealing with an enemy is one specific way to cultivate this skill. If you push them too hard they’ll snap back, if you don’t push hard enough they’ll ignore you. This forces you to devise the perfect combination of diplomacy and assertiveness to send them packing.

15. They can help you understand human nature.

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We may not always understand what makes us drawn to some people and repulsed by others; life is funny that way. However, we can learn quite a bit about ourselves, and human nature from the people on either extreme. Having an enemy teaches us lessons about the value of individuality and respect, even when we don’t see eye to eye. Learning that each person has their own goals and motivations means we draw closer to understanding the human condition. This experience, and every other you have with another person, can help you understand your own feelings and can make you a better and more well-rounded person.

16. Feeling lonely? Find your match with the power of thought.

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Our sister site, Sweetn, makes it easy – take their quiz, use their tools, and see your love life transform. It’s quick and easy to get started and their actionable tools will make a noticeable difference to the way you date. Ready? Click here and start your journey.

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