There are so many challenges we human beings have to face and resolve in order to have a life of dignity, purpose, fulfillment, and happiness. In many places on the planet millions of people have much to overcome in order to merely stay alive; they don't even consider improving the quality of their lives, just that they physically survive another hour or another day.

One of the most notable characters in The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings books by J.R.R. Tolkien is Gollum. Frodo recognized that at one time Gollum had been a more comely, kinder, lovable personality. What circumstances and choices led to Gollum's monstrous physical appearance and his pitifully devious and deadly ways?

As the story of the battle between good and evil forces unfolds in the Lord of the Rings stories, we not only observe the rise and fall of well-intentioned persons, but the perseverance and steadfastness in the stronger, more godly ones. We observe the continuous challenges that the characters (heroes or villains) have to face, the choices that they have to continually make—for good or for evil. Individuals have to overcome many temptations that tantalize with the promise of power, glory, fame, riches, beauty, acceptance, ease, and so on. Some are able to overcome the temptations to give in to error and iniquity, and some buckle under.

A long, long time ago Gollum gave in to his desire for something that belonged to someone else. He succumbed to covetousness and envy and spent the rest of his life fleeing from the voice of his higher self. Each time Gollum made a choice for the lower way out of divine pattern, he became a little uglier, inside and out.

After years of living in filth, Gollum meets Frodo, who is able to see that glimmer of what is left of Gollum's higher self, of what he had been before in a higher world of friendship, meaningful labor, laughter, and beauty.

Gollum felt unjustly treated, attacked, and even violated when Frodo gave him an opportunity for a new identity, one that he had before on a higher world—Smeagol. And yet, there were times when the Smeagol in him felt gratitude and a sense of loyalty to the strong love that Frodo extended to him.

The Smeagol-Gollum syndrome, this struggle between the higher and lower self, is something each one of us experiences in this world. For some it is more intense than for others. For some the Smeagol part is stronger, more dominant; for others it is the Gollum part. Sometimes we may have a week of being Gollum-like, and then regain our higher selves, and Smeagol dominates.

All of us have to overcome the Gollum within us on a daily basis. I am sure you are all familiar with the saying, "Your greatest enemy is yourself."

We all need time to process difficult realizations, situations, and messages that confront us, for it does feel like confrontation when we encounter something that does not gel with our plans or beliefs or expectations. We do not have to choose Gollum's outcome. Our destiny is much greater and nobler. As you give yourselves time to grow into a higher understanding, overcome moment to moment the Gollum-like whinings and snivelings that try to overtake your minds and hearts. Remember who you really are.

Niánn Emerson Chase co-founded Global Community Communications Alliance, a multifaceted global change nonprofit, comprised of approximately 120 change agents from five continents. She is the co-founder and Director of The University of Ascension Science & The Physics of Rebellion located on the campus of Avalon Organic Gardens & EcoVillage. She is co-author of the book Teachings on Healing, From A Spiritual Perspective.