Recently I stood up to someone that has been damaging me.  I don’t usually do that.  Once I had, I was essentially free of the damage, because there was nothing this person could do to hurt me anymore.

 

And yet I still feel like attacking them.  I still find myself fighting them in my head.  I still think of them as the enemy even though they are defeated.

 

I realize that, in this situation, as in so many others, I am the enemy, not that person I think I'm in conflict with.  I’m the one making myself unhappy.  I’m the one undermining myself now.

 

That puts the battle where it belongs, with myself.  It also creates a problem.

 

How do I defeat me?

 

Attacking doesn’t work.  If I attack me, I risk killing or subduing at least half of me, and possibly all of me.  Defeating myself through attack is suicidal.

 

Running away doesn’t work.  If I run away, I take me with me, and there is nowhere I can go where I won’t be.  Running away is futile.

 

Ignoring doesn’t work.  Half of me is always itching for a fight.  Ignoring my bullies never stopped them from bullying me when I was a kid, and it won’t work on me either.


So how?

 

I can get next to myself and look in the same direction, rather than staring at myself and opposing myself.  This is a great principle of martial arts, co-opting the momentum of the enemy to accomplish your purpose.  If I am teaching a group of noisy children, and I want them to quiet down, I teach them a soft song and I get them to sing it with me, using their energy to accomplish my aims.

 

I can understand what I want to fight about and resolve it.  If I discover what I’m angry about, then I can actually address it.  Once the issue is resolved, there’s no fight left. 

 

Most important, I can accept that I have a fighting side! I may be attacking myself because I don’t want to engage in a more necessary fight.  There are lots of worthy battles available out there:  a fight for recognition, a fight to earn a living, a fight to change the world.

 

So when I’m the enemy I don’t need to defeat myself at all.  I need instead to make myself an ally, or better yet, to fully own my nature as a fighter.  That’s a hard thing for me to do, but it’s worth fighting for.

 

***

News From a Jazz Musician Who Writes Books

I completed my newest album, Bitter Green, which I created for the RPM Challenge!  To hear it, go to http://rpmchallenge.com/index.php/component/comprofiler/userprofile/adamcole?Itemid=108

 

Three features and an interview in the last two weeks.

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