Keep your center
“No one can take your power if you keep your center,” said Miss G’s Aikido sensei. Then he showed her how to flip him upside down just using her thumb and pinky finger, saying “See? Keep your center, you keep all the power.”
I watched that move– just two fingers– thinking about how one touch can throw you off course if it’s planted right, thinking about balance and power.
A guilt trip is a touch like that.
Guilt is one beefy slab of heavy artillery. In manipulative hands, hands that know exactly where to place those two fingers, you don’t realize you’ve lost until you’re upside down.
But if you know how to spin out of that hold, if you keep your balance, opponents are forced off-center to reach after you and, in doing so, they sacrifice any power they could have gained. An off-center person will never overcome a centered person.
In Aikido, you don’t learn to attack. It’s all defensive. You learn protection. You learn to escape. And you learn that this knowledge renders your opponent powerless just as surely as that Karate Kid crane kick, simply by maintaining your center.
Understand this, and you unlock a new world.
If guilt is the grasping thing dragging you back, and you can’t for the life of you figure out how to fight against it, remember that getting away counts as winning. And against guilt, you only need one move: refusal.
Refuse to feel guilty. Refuse to take it personally. Refuse to feel like a bad person for sticking to your guns. Guilt is something we impose on ourselves. No one can make you feel guilty without your consent.
Successful manipulators depend on your reluctance to be the bad guy. They’re counting on you to do the right thing so they don’t have to. Your integrity is the spinny wheel that keeps the pieces moving around the board.
You can choose not to play their game. You don’t have to feel guilty. They can make you try– whoever your “they” is (are?)– but they only succeed with your permission.
Next time someone hurls that crap at you, remember your participation is necessary to their success. They don’t want what’s best. They want what’s best for them.
Keep your center, and no one can take your power.