Peaceful Aggressiveness

I’ve always been a little uneasy with (what I thought was) aggressiveness.  While growing up, I had several close family members who were proud of their “aggressiveness” and witnessed a few incidents that were quite ugly which I attributed to this trait.  My negative experience with it led me to install the belief in my consciousness that being “aggressive” was a bad thing.  After seeing what I saw, and being treated like I was at times while growing up, I vowed to never be like that, and continued my life being a fairly passive person.

Whenever thoughts of “aggressiveness” arose, I would squelch them as quickly as possible (suppress, I guess, would be another term for squelch), and the “aggressiveness” would spring up quite unexpectedly at random times as completely irrational temper tantrums that were completely uncharacteristic of me and were usually taken out on myself more than others.  This behavior resulted in a strengthening of the belief that “aggression” was bad, because of the guilt and embarrassment I’d experience after blowing up.

Lately I’ve been working on restructuring my beliefs-  beliefs that I’ve taken for granted my whole life and which have attributed to my life experiences thus far.  It’s amazing how many little beliefs we adopt from various experiences, which slip into our consciousness unnoticed, and we take as ‘just the way things are’.  I have to say that it doesn’t have to be the way things are, and most of these beliefs are extremely self-limiting.  No time is better than now to take an honest look at these beliefs and see them for what they are.  For me, a good visual to help with this process is to look at these beliefs as furniture in a room which can easily be rearranged, kept in place, refurbished, or discarded altogether.  The important thing is to be in control of THEM, not the other way around.  First, we have to be conscious of them, and then we can do what we wish to them.

Getting back to my above mentioned belief about “aggressiveness”, I realize it has been a very limiting belief of mine for much of my life.  Bringing aggressiveness to light, I’ve really been studying it, especially in my Aikido practice.

What I’ve experienced off the mat and on is that suppressed aggressiveness leads to irrational violence.  Aggressiveness is a very natural thing and, if experienced naturally, can be a catalyst to peaceful resolution.  It is a natural kind of communication in social orders and is used as a way to let another person know that in your terms they have transgressed, and therefore is naturally used as a method of preventing violence – not of causing it.  Yet it’s easy to confuse violence with aggression, not understanding aggression’s creative activity or its purpose, if you will, as a method of communication to prevent violence.

What I was doing, and I think a lot of people do, is deliberately make great effort to restrain the communicative elements of aggression while ignoring its many positive values, until its natural power becomes dammed up, finally exploding into violence.  Violence is a distortion of aggression.

The event of birth is an aggressive action – the thrust outward of a self from within a body into a new environment.  Any creative idea is aggressive.  Violence is not aggressive.  It is instead a passive surrender to emotion which is not understood or evaluated, only feared, and at the same time sought.

Violence is basically an overwhelmingly surrender, with a great degree of suicidal emotion, the antithesis of creativity.  For example, both killer and victim in a war are caught up in the same kind of passion, but I don’t see it as aggressive.  It is the desire for destruction made up of feelings of despair caused by a sense of powerlessness, not of power.  Aggressiveness leads to action, to creativity, and to life.  It does not lead to destruction, violence, or annihilation.

This is something that I’ve found very empowering and can aptly apply it to my Aikido practice.  There’s not many places that are better suited to practice reaction to fear than the dojo.  I find the environment of the randori (multiple attacker) to be the best training grounds for this.  A lot of people either react in the fight or flight manner, neither of which are Aiki-esque.  Try creative aggressiveness.  This may be what part of irimi (entering) is all about.  Go right into the fear, aggressively but creatively, and create something new – like a peaceful resolution – out of the interaction.


2 responses to “Peaceful Aggressiveness

  • Alex Ellison

    This is, I believe, your best post yet. Well written, thought-provoking and best of all, it challenges our most basic understanding of violence and aggression.

  • jeanne whited

    I agreed completely. I believe peaceful aggressiveness if practiced and applied can be very useful in work, play, home and in our self. Hmmm???

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