Break Through Your Threshold: Drop the Sword and Shield to Language
By Jai Maa
My friend Judy told me a story recently which, unfortunately, is not all that uncommon. “Would you believe what just happened to me? I was walking to my car and saw a lady push her stroller right into my car. She saw me and didn’t say anything, so I said, ‘Excuse me.’ Then she turned around and started cussing at me! Two other women got out of the car she was walking to and started cussing at me and wanting to fight. I was in shock! What happened to common courtesy? I said to them, ‘I’m not interested in fighting with you all’ and they got even more aggressive! I couldn’t believe what was happening. The old me would have taken all three of them down, but that wasn’t the point and it wasn’t worth my energy. Why were they trying to fight me when I was the one who was wronged and stood up for myself? I just walked away, feeling angry.”
Oh boy. I could relate with her pain. I had recently experienced something similar where someone attacked me, I asserted myself, and they attacked even harder. Why are we fighting so much?
For this New Year’s resolution, I invite you to practice and master a paradigm I guarantee will change your life. I call it “dropping the sword and shield to language.”
Our language can be used as a sword or shield. Either we lash out and attack aggressively or passive aggressively, and we also defend ourselves with our words. This kind of button-pushing battlefield gets us nowhere. We get feverishly excited off the highs of belligerent dramas while justifying our addiction to ‘being right.’
I gave myself the challenge to “drop the sword and shield to my language” and it has not been easy. I am by no means perfect at this practice, but the more I become aware of this self-defeating interaction, the more I notice the underlying feelings of insecurity that trigger me to fight and defend myself.
I would make comments with a passive-aggressive kind of attitude to “stab” someone who wasn’t doing things my way. Sometimes I just outright attacked another, stabbing them deeply with my words and thinking I won if I shut them down. But the truth was, I lost control of my emotions and degraded myself in these experiences.
I would also use my words as a shield to defend and protect myself when I felt disconnected my power. The co-founder of Satvatove Institute, a communication training I participated in, told me, “The moment you begin to argue, explain, or defend yourself, you’ve already given your power away.” These words have been an anchor for me to not give my power away when someone is trying to control me through their aggressive or passive-aggressive behavior. My life has profoundly changed by dropping my sword and shield to language. Today, I am assertive and in my integrity when I communicate, and I don’t leak my energy in button-pushing battlefields.
Let’s say you’re willing to master the discipline of dropping your sword and shield to language. How do you handle another who is attacking you or defending themselves?
The first thing to acknowledge when someone is attacking or defending, is they are disconnected from their power and feeling afraid. Your job is to not join their level of insecurity, but to remain calmly on your center and refuse to pick up your sword or shield. Instead, use empathy to understand the core fear of where they are coming from. Empathy does not mean you are justifying, agreeing with, or collapsing into their point of view, but that you feel secure enough within yourself to enter their world, see things from their perspective, and understand their pain. You are always encouraged to remain true to yourself and what is right for you, just don’t waste your energy battling with your point of view.
Sometimes, not engaging at all might be the wisest move. When another is attached to you entering their battle-field, they want your energy. Do not give it to them, or you feed the part of them that is disconnected. Furthermore, you drain yourself.
In the case of Judy’s story, it took a tremendous amount of courage and wisdom to walk away. She knew she had better things to do with her time and energy than to engage in a drama. She knew the women were out of control with their emotions, and she chose to stay in control of hers. Judy’s story is an example of what it looks like to be in true power.
Enlightenment Challenge: Pay attention to how often you stab another with your words or defend yourself when you are afraid. Try dropping your sword and shield to language and notice how you feel. Mastering this technique just could be life changing.
Side Note from Jai Maa: I learned empathy and assertiveness skills through Satvatove Institute in Alachua, Florida. The next three day Foundational Course of communication training is on February, 16-18. If you are interested in learning more, visit www.satvatove.com or you are welcome to contact me at 352-514-3122.