We were in the middle of one of Dawn Callan’s AWAKEN THE WARRIOR WITHIN workshops, where in two days this little human dynamo would teach women more about self defense than most teachers could convey in two years. But this one woman, “Molly”, was a tough nut to crack. She was so filled with fear, timidity, had been so beaten down that we couldn’t get her to hit the pads. She couldn’t kick the shield. Molly would break down into tears at the very idea that she should or could fight back. “I can’t!”
None of the other instructors had been able to help her, so in desperation they brought her to me. I was holding the pad, as tears and snot ran down her face, a woman utterly convinced of her helplessness and unworthiness to defend herself.
This was, I decided, a defining moment in her life. This wasn’t about “doing karate.” This was about an adult human being deciding that she had a right to exist, to defend her space, to choose the rules by which others could enter her world. This wasn’t just about her body, it was about her dreams, and words, and values. About the ability to look at the world and say: “I love you, but you will not define me.”
I saw in her tentative movements, her face frozen in terror, her stuttering speech a lifetime of making excuses, of perceived failure, of attracting predators into her space, of a false self-image that was dragging down her life and extinguishing her dreams.
And decide that it was going to end TODAY. When dealing with a client, the only intent must be to help them. Period. To put their hands on the controls of their life, by any means necessary.
So…I cheated. I looked at her and said: “do you have any kids?”
“No,” she sobbed.
“Do you have any brothers or sisters?”
“Yes.” The tiniest change in her expression. A spark of light. Ah!
“Yes, a younger sister.” I noticed that she was breathing smoother.
“Do you love her?”
“Yes. More than anything,” she said.
Perfect. I took a deep breath. “All right,” I said. “Your sister is hiding behind you RIGHT NOW. And if I get past you, I’m going to–” and here I described, in graphic detail, something unspeakable I was going to do to her baby sister.
And…her eyes flashed fire. Her entire body language changed. She bared her teeth, cross-stepped forward and BLASTED me with a side kick. I swear, she about knocked me through the wall! The entire workshop stopped, amazed at the transformation as she came at me like a rabid wolverine.
Lord GOD that woman hit hard! “That!” I yelled, touching her belly button. “That! Store THAT feeling, right here. Any time you need to defend yourself, access THAT.” And she “got it.” That was her breakthrough. And she kept it for the rest of the workshop, and her graduation exercise (fighting two padded attackers!) was stupendous. The best of the weekend.
What happened? It’s simple, really. Every living human being was helpless at one point, and protected and loved. If you weren’t, you would have died. Period. Whether because of that buried memory, or other things, biologically or genetically encoded within us…or deeply encoded social values, we are programmed to protect innocent children, babies, people who cannot help themselves. It’s part of the reason we’ve survived as a species.
I’ve lost count of the people who say that they have no motivation, no drive, are drowning in ennui…but mention their children and they are dynamos, putting HUGE energy into protecting and nurturing them. And no, this isn’t something exclusive to either women OR men. Both genders sacrifice for the next generation. In fact, IMHO, most of the rules of human relationships or society exist not to protect either men or women, but to maximize the number of grandchilden. But that’s another subject.
The point is this: the stresses of life can damage our belief in self, our commitment to our own dreams. We’ve failed in the past–why try now? We’ve been told we’re stupid and worthless…why be disciplined? Why not settle for short-term pleasure, since there will be no long-term benifits?
Do we take that from our children? Let them eat ice cream for breakfast? Let them avoid their homework because “they don’t wanna do it?” Let them call themselves stupid, ugly, useless? Let people hurt them?
No, we don’t, not if we have accepted the job called “parent” or “adult.”
And that means that: if you have given up on the dreams you had in childhood, if you are in a relationship you wouldn’t want for your own most beloved child…if you have behavior patterns you would fight to free your child from…if you don’t love yourself deeply and fully, enough to demand the very best from yourself…if you lack motivation and drive…if you can’t complete creative projects, or have lost contact with your creativity and sheer “juice” of life…
Then this core connection has been severed. You have lost your connection to your “child” self, and the “adult” self that is biologically, genetically, psychologically and socially programmed to protect it. And if you re-establish this connection, the effect can be startling.
All I did with “Molly” was put her in touch with her actual capacity for love and protectiveness, and then anchor it within her: her little sister WAS her. She WAS her little sister. SHE was and is the only line of defense against the world, and if she didn’t take responsibility…no one could, or would.
I’ve watched men and women work themselves to death for their families and claim they have no motivation. It is one of the ugliest illusions. WAKE UP! Love yourself, without limit. Fill yourself with that love, and give to others from the “overflow.” Trust me: there is plenty. An infinity, in fact. But if you do it the other way: (“I’ll give to you. Won’t you please give to me? I’m starving!”) you attract either broken people, or predators.
Love has no limit. Don’t deny yourself life’s banquet.