Both 'Assertiveness' and 'Aggression' tend to be seen as something 'bad'
and to be avoided.
partly due to the violent and dangerous nature of the uncontrolled
'explosions' of aggression we're more likely to see in our society,
but also due to the fact that a display of aggression can be
a profoundly frightening experience for people who are not
'at peace' with their own assertive nature.
The sort of Assertiveness, or 'Healthy Aggression,' that we are looking
for could be seen as a desire to engage with life.
It is a 'Will' to build things, to discover things, to explore and experience things -
and then to defend these things if necessary.
(It can also be one of the keys to the seemingly 'magical' ability to get going
in the morning without even a single cup of coffee.)
Aggression based in fear, on the other hand, can be dangerous.
This is an 'Aggression' coming from a place of imagined danger -
where thoughts of 'I am not safe, I must be ready to attack any threats' cloud
the mind. It is imperative that these feelings are dealt with before
this work can continue in a safe and constructive manner.
So what do we do about it?
Working with 'The Good Goddess' for an extended period of time
will help to set up a firm foundation for building a healthy
expression of aggressive energies. A sense of safety is a necessary
prerequisite for working with aggression.
A reasonable level of experience of mindfulness will prove helpful:
- People who identify very strongly with certain concepts
(e.g. flags, football teams) can sometimes seem to react to an 'attack' on their
favourite concept as if they themselves were under physical assault.
Mindfulness can help by creating a little 'distance' from, and objectivity
about, these initially knee-jerk reactions.
Anyone with an unresolved fight-flight response
(Excessive muscular tension may be one indicator of this)
may find that they experience a vague bodily sense of 'something is wrong'
but cannot quite pin it down.
This feeling will exacerbate the problems involved with 'unhealthy
aggression' by giving an actual physiological sense of danger
and a need to locate the source of this feeling -
easily leading to an aggressive response totally out of proportion
to the level of any threat or challenge.
Mindfulness should be one of the keys to allowing the mind-body system
to finally return to a 'normal' and 'at ease' state.
Also useful will be spending some time affirming that your new resource of
'assertiveness' and 'aggression' is one of the things that your
'Divine Ally' is assisting with.
Any mammal that is continually physically overwhelmed
will begin to internalise these experiences as
a kind of 'negative belief' about their capabilities -
'learned helplessness' it is sometimes
referred to. This is the quickest and easiest way, for example,
to take a wild, spirited horse from the plains and
end up with a work-horse. 'Breaking it in' is the expression.
This phenomenon also applies to Human Beings -
something taken advantage of by 'Slave Breakers' whose
job was to continually beat prospective slaves
until the 'fighting spirit' went out of them,
leaving a docile and easily intimidated work-force.
Hopefully most people have avoided the level of continued and
purposeful violence visited on some unfortunates throughout history,
If the normal mind-body process for dealing with stress and trauma
is prevented from performing normally
and if the sense of a 'supportive community' that could
help to counter-balance any problems has been eroded
and if society can't or won't provide a way for people to
exercise assertiveness in a simple and direct manner -
then it is really only a matter of time before the 'vitality' of
the individual is eventually whittled down all the same.
Our main way of reversing this gradual decline
is to re-energise the aggressive response.
In some tribal societies they have a kind of 'coming of age' ritual
where an aspiring youngster is taken out on a hunt where they are
guided to confront and defeat the animal themselves.
In the West we often see this as having to 'prove themselves' and we use
emotive descriptions like 'test of manhood' - but what if it isn't,
and our Western assumptions have distracted us from the truth:
that this ritual is not a 'test' - it is an actualiser, an enabler
... and that the experience of successfully defeating the animal affirms
a reality of being a competent and physically able hunter.
In societies that depended on hunting for survival this ritual
would serve a double purpose: as well as an empowering experience for the
new hunter they get tonight's meal as well.
In the modern world, where such hunting is no longer required,
this kind of exercise degenerates into
an arbitrary slaying of random animals
which seems unnecessarily blood-thirsty to me
(unless you are a meat-eater and need to learn a little respect for where
your meals come from...)
Instead, I am going to suggest that prompting the subconscious to create
vivid 'mental movies' of a similar successful experience will do the
job just as well.
Because sometimes these 'mental movies' can turn into
rehearsals for behaviours later enacted in real life
it would be wise to be cautious about the precise content of these
'mental hunting movies'. I would suggest the defeat of
vicious wild animals, mythical beasts
and monsters from dreams as being useful targets for the majority of
The procedure is the same as all of the other 'questions' -
"What would it be like to successfully defend myself
against a vicious wild animal?"
"How good and natural would it feel?"
Shouting "This is Sparta" at any time is, however, purely optional.
No matter how big, strong and powerful we get, the Universe will always
be bigger - 'there's always a bigger fish' - and sometimes the
smart response is to run away.
Augment your questions with something like:
"What would it be like to successfully and easily escape from an attacker?"
"How good and natural would it feel?"
Having the possibility of 'fleeing' made a part of the Assertive
helps to prevent the inner concept of 'who am I' from 'shorting out'-
If you've ever seen the first 10 minutes of the film 'The Fifth Element'
then John Neville gives a demonstration of someone who has
a very sound and robust 'aggressive' quality - but nothing else.
He has no options to allow him to adapt to changing situations,
and when his missiles and bombs have no effect at all on the approaching
enemy all he can do is stand there
paralyzed - trapped in some kind of internal 'existential anomie' -
rooted to the spot as his spaceship gets destroyed.