The Art of the Warrior

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The highest art of the warrior is to face one’s own inner ghosts and demons, rather than avoiding them (through depression and addictions) or transferring the effects through violence (blaming, anger/rage, and hate) toward one’s family and/or society.” By Stan Woody

Mythology describes four different models for the structure, functions and development of being a human: King, Warrior, Magician, and Lover. These are models of how we channel energy. We do not possess one type or the other, but we are a blended integration of the differing modalities of energy expression. Each model can be helpful or can promote discord.  For instance, a deficit of Warrior energy can either signal cowardice or just a lack of interest in the situation.  An excess of Warrior energy is used by bullies and dominators.

Stories and religions have been used throughout history to give meaning to the unexplainable. They also help anchor opinions, though they too often disguise opinions as facts. Stories can give depth, meaning, and emotional hooks or anchors to guide behavior.  For instance, stories about Warriors demonstrate the seven principles of the Code of the Warrior: Honor, Justice, Politeness, Benevolence, Sincerity, Loyalty, and Courage.  The lifestyle of the Warrior includes living by a Code of Ethics that embodies these principles, by living the art of peace, training daily mentally and physically, meditating, and taking care of the body as if it were a temple.  Stories about Warriors engage the listener and illustrate these principles.  The greatest stories help the listener develop a “toolkit” that provides guidance for how best to live as a healthy Warrior.

A more explicit example of a set of tools can be found in I’m OK–You’re OK (Thomas Harris, 1967), an early model for conflict resolution using assertiveness training. This model evolved into identifying four styles of dealing with conflict as Passive, Assertive, Aggressive, and Passive/Aggressive. Currently, the language used to describe conflict resolution is win/win, lose/win, win/lose, and lose/lose. These are all saying essentially the same thing: assertiveness is a balance of the energy, passive is a deficit in the energy, and aggressive is an excessive (toxic) level of the energy. 

Tools provide utilitarian meaning. As important as it is for the Warrior to know how to use a weapon (the pen, the tongue, the sword, or the gun), it is even more important to know when not to use the weapon. It is impossible to take back stupid. However, reading about tools without examples of how to use them does not lock the tools into the memory for future use. Stories that show the application of tools, and/or the misapplication of tools, facilitate personal growth.

What is an example of a story you have read or heard about that taught you a new strategy for meeting your needs?  Did you repeat the story to anyone else?

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