Position of Strength v/s Position of Weakness | Where do you operate from?
I was driving happily, on a rainy Sunday morning (I love driving in the rain). The rain was very light, a slight drizzle. The windows were down, I was listening to my favourite singer (Prateek Kuhad) and was driving to a breakfast place on Delhi’s empty roads. Not a care in the whole wide world. Such peace.
In some time, I turned into a narrow lane, close to the cafe I wanted to head to, and I find two young dudes, sitting in their respective cars, bang in the middle of the lane, speaking to each other. I honked furiously, shouted at them for being so inconsiderate to the general public, got really worked up and drove away.
I left those two dudes behind but I also left behind my great mood, happiness and peace. I remained irritated all through the day.
Ever been in such a scenario?
I have, multiple times. And every single time such an incident happened, I didn’t feel good about myself, didn’t understand my behaviour or why I reacted the way I did in situations which were beyond my control.
Why did I shout at the dudes? No, it wasn’t just about being a responsible citizen. Yes, a responsible citizen should speak up but there is no need to lose one’s cool, is there? So, why did I shout at them and not just speak in a normal tone, in a logical manner?
Was it ego? Or was it something else?
I didn’t know the exact reason till the year 2019 when a mentor, leader and an exceptional human being spoke to our team about the concept of operating from a position of strength v/s a position of weakness.
This changed my life, and how I viewed circumstances, situations and experiences. It also changed my viewpoints and reactions.
The concept simply asks us how we perceive & respond to life and the myriad of experiences it brings with it. Do we identify ourselves as strong beings, resilient beings and beings with deep-rooted power? Or do we identify ourselves as weak beings, unsure beings and beings without any control over our thoughts, words or actions?
That’s all there is. Our position or our perspective in life.
Whenever we operate from a position of weakness — This could be fear, anger, inferiority or a sense of inability — we tend to over-react, speak without thinking and get irritated with seemingly simple phenomenon. Inherently, we feel we cannot manage the situation adeptly and hence, become a lesser version of ourselves and operate more from the primitive side of our brains (the amygdala — flight or fight response). In such scenarios, we do not take logical decisions and become very defensive.
Now imagine a different way of responding to situations. What if we did not get flustered by any random negative experience we encounter? What if, inside us, we just knew, that whatever happens, in the end everything will be alright? What if we always put ourselves in a position of strength, imbibing peace and a sense of quiet power that radiates outward?
In my Sunday morning encounter, if I’d have operated from a position of strength, I wouldn’t have lost my cool. I’d have stopped next to the gentlemen in their cars, spoken to them politely, asking them if they’d mind parking their vehicles and then chit-chatting. I could have just explained to them, politely, that the public was being inconvenienced because of their lack of awareness. (I know this sounds a tad bit sarcastic right now, but you get the point).
When do we feel weak? When we take things too personally, when we assume someone is out to get us deliberately, or when we think that a situation is out of our control and whatever bad can happen, will happen. (Murphy’s law).
It is difficult to accept this but, most of the time, any form of anger, irritation, egoistic or narcissistic behaviour stems from us being in a position of weakness, mentally. Most of the damage is done because we operate or react from a position of weakness, and then spend the rest of our time & energy trying to undo what we did, through our own spontaneous reaction to a situation.
If we just replaced ‘reacting’ with ‘responding’, we’d have a much easier time through life.
Another Real-Life Predicament
A couple of months ago, some traffic cops pulled me over because I had (obviously unknowingly) jumped a red light. They told me that I’d have to surrender my driver’s license, go to court, pay a hefty fine and then get my license back. I thought I’d end up crying and asking them for some respite, but funnily enough, I did not. Instead, I was unnaturally calm. I asked them which court it would be, how much time it would take and if I was allowed to drive the vehicle back home or I’d have to call someone to come get me (since I didn’t know if I could drive with just a digital copy of the surrendered license). I was shocked at how I ‘responded’.
The cops were even more shocked.
They wanted to know where I was from, what I did. (I told them I’d just lost my job during COVID — this was not entirely untrue, I just did not mention the part where I myself had quit my job). They almost started crying with me. I was amazed at how chilled out I was. I felt the strength inside me.
Anyway, the cops were so amazed at my politeness and demeanour, they let me off with a smaller fine and asked me to drive cautiously. I was blown away. I’d never had that kind of an experience with the police!
Being in a position of strength, all the time, just means that you are comfortable with who you are, what you do and how you think about others around you. You’re not trying to hide any facet of your personality and are truly living a life that stands for something beyond your day-to-day experiences.
So the next time we see ourselves in a situation that does not seem all hunky-dory, let’s try to stay cool, take a deep breath, know in our heart of hearts, that all will be well and then rock the response!
P.S. A big, mighty and grateful thank you to Bala Kishore, who is the mentor and amazing human being I’d mentioned earlier. He’s taught a lot of us about this concept (among other life-changing teachings). You can read more about him and his work here — https://balakishore.in/
(Thank you, Bala)