Do not take it personally

How many times have we heard or been told that and yet when a situation or words are thrust upon us, we do take it personally. When this happens, we internalize the actions of another person’s aggression to the point of feeling offended, upset or angered by it. This is allowing something or someone outside of ourselves to control and/or affect how we feel or react. Becoming angered, flustered, or off centered creates that opening an opponent seeks so they can attack and/or defeat us. One of the main goals of long-term training is the development of a strong unmovable center. It helps us meet all things; positive and negative with a calm, equal mind, not easily rattled. Having a good center enhances your ability to act mindfully and not mindlessly react to an attack or disturbance. We cannot stop the world or others from aggressive attacks, physical or verbal, how we confront them and handle them is what matters. Our training is no different, yet different than the athlete who wishes to develop physical stamina for a race. The result of training our mind and spirit along with the body develops not only our physical stamina but mental esteem and compassion. Training develops strong self-esteem providing mental fortification needed against attacks and gives us confidence to face life’s obstacles. We can believe in our self-worth and abilities when attacked, even if at the end the defense is overrun from the attack. So back to “don’t take it personally”. If we fail or are defeated in something, do we fall apart? Just as training helps us build our confidence to defend, so too it creates our ability to have come back with compassion, the flip side of esteem I feel. When defeated or lost to grief we must come back from it and this is where compassion comes into play, it helps us understand, deal, and repair from situations that handed us defeat.

Aikido is the art of compassion. We are human beings, like our attacker, and by design we humans are fallible. We should understand and realize that every person is suffering and because of this, we give them compassion instead of destroying them. The goal of Aikido is to develop mindfulness in action. Being mindful gives us compassion, we can then understand an attack is not personal but a way another suffering person incites us to create an opening to attack. O’Sensei said, “In our techniques we enter completely, blend totally and firmly control an attack. A calm mind of inner strength is stable; confusion and uncertainty arise when this is disturbed. As we train to harmonize, we diminish those external influences and that is how we can learn to “not take things so personally”.

Andrew M Sato March 2023
Chief Instructor ~ AWA

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