The art of fighting without fighting

So yesterday I introduced a bad situation.    One of Nicki’s friends (“Mary”) had a dad (“Carl”) who was trying to push me into a violent confrontation.  My reticence to hurt little Mary’s father had created a vulnerability in me that could easily lead to me getting hurt.   I compensated by shifting to the perspective that Carl was trying hurt NICKI’S dad.

And the instant I did that, everything changed.  Suddenly, I could access my tactical mind.   We can often do things for other people (in this case, my daughter) that we cannot do for ourselves.

But…what was I to do?

Well…I thought about it for a day or so, and finally remembered a conversation I’d had with a gentleman named “Mike”, one of my martial arts instructors, who had a reputation as a badass.   To the point where people would come into his school and challenge him on a monotonously regular basis.  He got tired of it.

Mike is more than a martial arts master. He also holds a Phd in Sports Psychology, and is one sharp cookie.

Well, one day Mike was sitting in his office, and heard someone enter his school’s foyer.   A gruff, bass voice yelling: “I wanna talk to the Doc!”  Mike sighed.  And then he reached into his desk drawer and pulled out a .45 automatic and laid it on his blotter.  And then imagined the gentleman entering his office in a belligerant mood.  And…imagined himself blowing the guy’s head off.   And found the place inside himself that enjoyed the sight.

Yeah, I know.

Then he put the gun away, and walked out into the outer office, and had a very pleasant conversation with the truck driver who had come in looking for a fight, and somehow found himself distracted into polite conversation. And went away, and never came back.

I had my answer.

So…I thoughts and meditated until I found the part of my personality that would ENJOY fighting Carl.  No, not fighting him.  CRIPPLING him, after being certain that he initiated the attack, so that I had a perfect excuse to do what I needed to do. The part of myself that resented all the people, over the course of my life, who had not allowed me to just be a peaceful, happy, loving person, who had pushed me into spending over forty years of my life learning how to hurt other human beings.  And oh, yes, that wolf lives within me. And I love him. And have made an agreement with him that if he is ever necessary, I will release him to do what he wants to do, and love him afterward.

Good Lobo.   Here’s some floss.

I imagined the results, and trust me, they weren’t pretty.  I contain multitudes.  Then I put Lobo back in his cage, and thanked him.   I got up, hugged Nicki and kissed my wife Toni good-bye, and walked to Carl’s house.  His wife opened the door.  “Hello,” I said politely.  “Is Carl home?”

Yes, he was, in the back room on the computer.

“May I speak with him, please?” She smiled a bit uncertainly (I’ll just bet!) and let me in.   I walked back to the computer room, where Carl was on the internet.

“Hi, Carl,” I said, and we had a wonderful conversation, about life and business and family. After about ten minutes, I said, “well, I just wanted to come by and say hello.”

He walked me to the door, and I left.

A couple of weeks later, his wife told me that after I left, Carl turned to her and said: “you know?  That Steve Barnes is really a nice guy.”

And he never, ever, messed with me again.


What lesson do I extract from this?   When you are uncertain, conflicted, afraid, and confused, people will mess with you. Life will attack you, seeking weakness and attracted to muddy emotions.

But when you are clear?  Your values like crystal?  Know who you are, and what you are, and precisely what you are prepared to do to protect the values closest to your heart, and given yourself up completely to the process of being who you are in the world, owning all aspects of your inner being..?

Miracles happen.  Life unfolds.  People move out of your way, and even more, wish to join with you–people with clarity are fascinating.

We all have “Carls” in our lives, whether they are people, or circumstances, or obstacles within our own psyches.   The clearer you are, the easier it is to see your way to your goal, and the more external circumstances will change to support you.


Works like crazy. The more I look back over my life, the more I think that this is the simplest expression of “what works” that I’ve ever found.   Look back over your own, see whether this is true, to what degree, how you might have to modify it to see how you succeeded in This or That circumstance.

And then…repeat your success, being certain that whatever you add, you do NOT subtract from the basic equation.

And then…with love, and clarity, and faith…share what you have found with others.




  1. Absolutely. That beast can be very useful, but you have to be aware of him, and as the song says “keep your monster on a leash.”


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