One of the things that we learn* in our kung fu training is this:
Not everything that feels powerful actually is.
Just because we put in a lot of effort, or engage a lot of tension, or become super fierce, or stoke the fires in our belly… and just because it feels so much like we should be able to resist a mountain and even be able to split it in two… despite all that… when actually test the move we collapse like a house of cards, with nary an ounce of power there.
And then we get angry! And we double down on it! AAAAARRRRGH! Which only ever serves to make it even worse. **
Fortunately, we also (eventually) learn to not force the point*** and to let it go, delve deeper, and adjust our form such that, remarkably and suddenly, it not only works but it works without almost any effort at all.
Like so many things in kung fu, so too does this apply with our ways of being and in the way we live our lives:
Not every emotion or attitude that, again, feels strong is actually strong.
As we interact with the many areas of our lives, we have so many ingrained and automatic responses and views and ways of being, and we often go forth thinking that they are strong, that they are necessary, that this is the way, and that anger and harshness and hostility and posturing and fierceness and downright hostility to the world and everything around it is the way to make our way and, more importantly, to get what we want. We think they make us strong. And wow does it ever feel strong! And right!
And yet, it isn’t. And we aren’t. All that acerbic-ness ends up being unproductive. We expend a lot of effort, and we may move the ball a smidge, but it takes a supreme toll on ourselves and others, and the results rarely stick.
Like with kung fu, we can let it be for a moment,**** set it aside, and bring to it a new level of mindfulness. Within that clearing we can adjust and create a new context, choosing other ways of being that will bring forth what we want with velocity and without effort.
And that there is true power.
* And re-learn and re-discover over and over and over and over again…
** Which, like the above, we do it again and again even though we know it never works…
*** Also fortunately we learn to laugh at our stubborn silliness….
**** And laugh!
***** One corollary to all this is that when we see someone who is all fire and aggression and sees the world through metaphors of attack and destruction and always seems upset by everything, it’s the same thing: It is not strength, they are not powerful people, and they are not paragons to laud. They are all bluster and performance, with little to show for it, no peace of mind, and continually having a lousy experience of life to boot.