By Joe Weston
Current events are challenging us to look for new ways to navigate higher levels of stress and more effective ways to cultivate more resilience, as well as tap into internal resources and inner power. The methods and practices of Respectful Confrontation offers significant tools to address the personal and societal challenges of our time, in a way that comes from a place of respectful assertiveness, counter-acting the polarizing pattern of either being a victim or being a bully.
How can we confront a bully without becoming a bully? How can we address the system of “Power Over” in a way that is just as powerful, but authentic to our true selves and values? How do we overcome some of our own internal fears and insecurities to step more fully into our authentic power, purpose and fulfillment?
This process starts with cultivating “Power Within” – the confidence and True Power that comes with feeling an inner sense of strength, personal conviction and fierce compassion. This is the true path of warrior – as opposed to the fighter – where courage, honor and respect play a core role in engaging with oneself and the world, even in times of challenge.
The Respectful Confrontation method uses martial arts as one of the metaphors to develop these skills, and the first step in such a practice is Courageous Self-Reflection.
Throughout history, most martial arts were practiced as a way to alleviate violence, as well as to foster a spiritual practice and a path to self-realization. In a paradoxical way, the more you learn how to fight, the less you need to fight, and the more of a peaceful impact you can have.
Morihei Ueshiba, founder of the martial art Aikido, said, “The purpose of training is to tighten up the slack, toughen the body, and polish the spirit.” This challenging path is an inward journey and one of deep contemplation, skill, endurance, and courage. Ueshiba goes on to say, “There are no contests in the Art of Peace. Defeat means to defeat the mind of contention that we harbor within.” There are many accounts of great teachers encouraging their students to embark on the path within. According to Buddhism and other Eastern philosophies, the state of enlightenment, or liberation, is already a part of your consciousness. It is up to you to find it within the depths of your mind. Buddha said, “Look within. Be still. Free from fear and attachment. Know the sweet joy of living in the Way.” Similarly, Jesus said: “Neither shall they say, lo here! Or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of god is within you.”
To overcome your own internal enemies—like fear, hate, anger, grief, jealousy, violence, prejudice, and confusion—is viewed by many to be the true noble fight. Not everyone is ready for this path within. Most of us give up, get frightened or get bored, to name a few possibilities. You could say that the most frightening thing people can do is to take an honest look at themselves and see themselves in a truthful way.
On this sacred journey, you come across parts of yourself that you’d rather not see and feel, or parts that have been conveniently buried or suppressed. It is a painful process to see all of you—the pleasant parts and the less pleasant parts. Courageous Self-Reflection brings these parts out into the light. When you see these hidden parts, you actually see that some of them are not so bad or scary. They are actually very interesting! Think about it. If you only present the “nice” parts of you, you become very shallow, flat, and boring. Think of a painter and her palette of colors. If she only uses colors like pink, light yellow, and light blue, then she is limited to creating nice and simple art. Imagine a palette that also includes deep red, black, purple, and dark green. Suddenly, the possibilities are endless for creating very rich and deep paintings. Your life is the same. The only way to live a full, rich, and fulfilled life is to use all of who you are, the lighter parts and the darker parts, in a balanced and controlled way. When you find this balance, free of denial and reactive behavior, you tap into your true power. In order to get to this point, you have to tread through your fear, anger, sorrow, desire, insecurities, and viewpoints.
The first part of the Respectful Confrontation method, The Practice of Developing the Respectful Self, offers ways for you to get more present and to come out of numbness and remember what it feels like to be alive, content, energized, and empowered. You will experience yourself in a new way. This can be uncomfortable, maybe even frightening. With Courageous Self-Reflection, you have the opportunity to re-frame many viewpoints and unexamined assumptions that keep you from living the life you want to live. You also get the chance to take a journey of self-discovery to feel, in a real way, who you are in your true power. Then you can walk through the world as a peaceful member of society using your skills and wisdom to foster peace, respect, and cooperation.
Joe Weston is an international workshop facilitator, author, consultant, coach, and advocate for lasting peace. His book, Mastering Respectful Confrontation, is selling throughout the world. Joe has more than 30 years of experience in providing training to corporations, government agencies and non-profits around the world addressing conflict prevention and resolution, leadership development, transforming work/social culture and deeper levels of collaboration. He is currently adjunct professor at Georgetown University, School of Government, Department of Conflict Resolution, teaching a course: Body-based skill building for navigating stress and confrontation. Born and educated in New York, Joe lived in Amsterdam for 18 years and now lives in Washington DC. Joe brings a wealth of insight to his work based on many teachings, including Tai Chi Chuan, mindfulness and a variety of traditions—plus his experience in theater and various organizational trainings, to create a unique style of training and coaching that combines theory with somatic exercises. His clients include NASA, The World Bank, Oxfam, KLM, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mitsubishi Motors and various government and educational institutions.
Adapted excerpt from Mastering Respectful Confrontation: A Guide to Personal Freedom and Empowered, Collaborative Engagement by Joe Weston. Heartwalker Press, 2011. Adapted with permission.
An Evening Lecture & Book Signing
Friday, March 15, 2019, 7:00 – 9:00 pm
Members Free/ Nonmembers $20
Additional Class with Joe Weston:
Saturday, March 16, 2019, 10:00 am – 5:30 pm
Personal Transformation Through Respectful Confrontation