You’re standing at one corner. Him at the other. He’s got a look that could kill and muscles to match. He’s breathing deeply through his mouthpiece and he’s staring straight at you, a look that says “I’m coming for you”. You try to look back, but inside you feel helpless.
All around you, the crowd is cheering, screaming, pushing for you to win. They hate this guy just as much as you do. Every inch of you knows this man has to be destroyed has to be fought, has to be killed, even.
But inside, your stomach is turning to mush. Your heart is bouncing in and out like a damn jackhammer. And all you can think about is all the times you’ve lost to him before. All you can think about is the times when he made you look silly, stupid and out of your league. The times you got up in this exact same ring cracked your knuckles, got ready to beat him up and then got socked, knocked out in a minute, maybe less.
And now your knees start to quake and your hands start to get sweaty and you’re thinking, you’re thinking that you’ll never be up for the task. You know that no matter what, you’re going to get up now and you’re going to fight him and hey maybe you’ll win, maybe G-d will strike him with thunder, maybe he’ll get a heart attack before he reaches you. But no matter what, you’re not winning based on your own strength.
These are thoughts that run through our minds so often when we’re faced against the obstacles in our lives, when we see a test coming up, when we hear the evil inclination whispering in our ears. We think about how often we’ve failed, how this test just keeps coming up and we simply have no chance. Or maybe we do, but it’ll be only once and even then it won’t be because we deserved it.
And even before we’ve entered the ring, we’ve thrown in the towel.
Imagine fighting this man, trying to punch him, wrestle him to the ground with all your might.
And now imagine trying to do that with those negative thoughts flying through your mind.
You get up, you stand, ready to fight and as you go towards the man, your feet feel like mud and your hands feel like gel and now you wonder why you’re even up and why you’re even trying but now his fist is flying at your face and you have no choice and you sidestep it but only by an inch and you want to turn around and punch him back but the thoughts are running through your mind and your fist seems to react slower than you intended and before you have a chance you feel the sting of a hand smashing into your teeth and soon you’re on the ground and you’re breathing deep.
Can you really live in such a way? Can you allow such thoughts to creep in? You’re fighting the most important fight of all, the fight of your life. It’s the fight of making every moment in your life count, of making your life meaningful, of passing the tests G-d throws at you and becoming a stronger, deeper more connected and enlightened person. Is there any bigger fight?
And you think you can win when you’re thinking like that?
And so now you start to beat yourself up, you start to get angry at yourself and you say, “Why do I always lose? What’s wrong with me? I need to shape up!”
Oddly, this just seems to make you even slower and now he’s just beating up on you for fun and you’re breathing shallow and you’re getting up on your knees and then knocked right down and the more you beat yourself up the more you seem to fall.
Don’t you see? Don’t you see that beating yourself up is no good? Don’t you see that if you’re beating yourself up then there’s nobody left to beat up that guy. Now instead of you fighting him, it’s him and yourself fighting you. 2 vs 0. Not very fair.
But what’s left to do, you wonder? How do I beat up this muscled bully? How do I get to my knees and then my feet and then finally beat him up without falling, if not by attacking myself or thinking about all the times I’ve failed?
Every coach in the world knows the answer to that question. Everyone that’s ever won anything in their lives knows what you need to win.
You have to be able to see yourself winning. Not just imagine it. See it. Taste it. You have to live it before you even get there.
You have to think through everything you know how to do right. Think about what a success you truly are in an inherent level and on a superficial level. In every way, you are ready to pass G-d’s tests. On every level, you are able to destroy the evil inclination.
The Alter Rebbe says it himself in chapter 28 of Tanya: “But this must be made known as a cardinal principle: just as it is with a victory over a physical opponent; for instance, two people who wrestle with each other, each striving to fell the other. If one of them is lazy and sluggish he will easily be defeated and will fall, even if he be stronger than the other”.
You. Are. Stronger. What makes us weak is when we believe we are weak. What makes us fail is when we are made sluggish by our own fear of failure.
It is when we know, know for a fact, that G-d has given us the power to overcome anything, even the big scary man in the corner that we can get up, we can use the strength we know we have, to turn around look him in the eye, get up and clock him straight out.
All we need to do is accept it. All we need to do is know it.
And then nothing can stop us.