Those of you who have experienced Spiral Impact know I am a long time student of the martial art, aikido. Spiral Impact, a collaboration/conflict resolution method, is grounded in aikido principles.

Fequentlly I am asked, “Have you ever had to use your martial skills on the street?” While the best answer is I use my martial art training in every conversation, I do have a street story… here it is.

On a dark desolate street in Boston my aikido training did come in handy. At the time both of my daughters were living in Brookline, a western suburb. I was visiting. After a day exploring downtown and dinner we headed back to their place on the Green Line train. As the train rattled and shook all three of us were tired, looking forward to getting back home. Then, the train suddenly squealed and stopped at an unplanned location. The conductor announced, “This train is being taken out of service. Please exit the train.” That happened frequently on the Green Line.

We exited. It was dark.

Their apartment was about a 15-minute walk. We headed out. About 50 feet up a steep and rutted sidewalk all three of us tensed as we noticed a man in the shadows hunched in his oversized coat following us.

Right then I realized we all had watch way too many crime shows.

Noticing tension and then relaxing into ‘center’ is a first step in both aikido and Spiral Impact. Being a protective mom my desire to handle this well was heightened. Then, I did something most women on a dark street wouldn’t do – I turned and greeted the man and walked along with him.

That space between oneself and the unknown grows fear.
I removed the space. 

What happened next is really quite boring. He kind of shrugged and exited right at the next opportunity.

My daughters thought I was a superstar. The important part of my action was mostly internal. It would not make great entertainment for the big screen. But, it was useful in diffusing our fear – whether real or imagined.

What’s the take away for you? More often that not, tension and fear create more tension and fear. In your life, what is causing tension and/or fear? How skilled are you at centering (or calming) yourself in the face of fear?

Had I aggressively confronted this man no doubt I would have magnified the situation in a bad way. Instead, I Spiral Impacted him. Would you like to know how?

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