Instructor Tip: What Aikido Can Teach Us About Conflict and Emotions
Instructor Tip by Judy Ringer
Conflict stories are our most interesting stories. When you see two people deeply engaged in conversation, chances are that one of them is telling a conflict story. They’re fascinating. And they elicit strong opinions and emotions.
Conflict is one way in which we come to know the world and understand each other. It can offer an opening to our most powerful selves--or the opposite. Habitual stress reactions leave us thinking we have no choice but to do what we’ve always done. And when the conflict is over, we look back, asking, “Why did I do that? What was I thinking?”
A New Way to Manage Conflict
Luckily, I’ve discovered a means to help me remember that I have choices even in the most difficult situations. I practice and teach Aikido, a Japanese martial art developed in the early 20th century. Aikido teaches how to disarm an attack without harming the attacker. Joining with and redirecting its force, Aikidoists replace resistance with connection. We call the attack a gift of energy.
Aikido principles are equally applicable in non-physical conflict, such as arguments, everyday hassles, and the emotions that come with them. Our goal is to engage the incoming energy and redirect it--to lead, guide, and manage the force by managing ourselves.
You practice Aikido in life any time you stop, take a breath, and choose a more centered way of being; when you interrupt reactive emotions and behaviors that no longer serve you; or choose to acknowledge your feelings instead of acting them out. Aikido has helped me create a life with less stress and more joy.
The next time you find yourself getting triggered by someone or something, use the energy of your emotions to help you become less reactive and more responsive:
- Notice. Wow! I'm pretty upset. Where is this coming from and what do I want to do about it?
- Stop, breathe and center yourself. Centering puts a moment of awareness between the emotion and your action.
- Act purposefully. Make a choice that aligns with your true intention. Listen with curiosity to an opposing view. Search for solutions and mutual understanding.
Emotions happen. And we can make choices about them. In order to manage others we must first understand and manage ourselves.
A popular USM Professional Development Program instructor, Judy Ringer is the author of Unlikely Teachers: Finding the Hidden Gifts in Daily Conflict. She provides conflict, communication, and presentation skills training internationally with innovative workshops based on mind/body principles from the martial art Aikido, in which she holds a second-degree black belt. Employing best practice communication models, Judy brings to life key concepts such as self-management under pressure and appreciation of other viewpoints. Her programs are interactive, experiential and energetic.
This fall, Judy is teaching the following USM Professional Development Courses:
- Leading Through Difficult Times: Collaborative Strategies for Nurse Managers
Starts October 10th
- Conflict in the Workplace