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Psychology: martial and social art

 Behind almost any martial art there is a history, philosophy and culture and traditions. It is believed that without knowing this foundation it is impossible to master the martial art itself. Any martial art is designed to help a person resolve the conflict in their favor, or at least protect themselves.

At the same time, we are talking not only about physical conflict - martial art is also a lifestyle, principles of attitude to the world and problem solving. To resolve conflicts, psychology borrowed centuries-old proven principles and techniques from martial arts. This is how psychological aikido, judo, kung fu and other areas of conflict management appeared. Unlike martial arts, these areas can be called social arts - helping to solve complex problems of interaction between people, without resorting to extremes - combat use. Social arts also require systematic training and improvement, but unlike martial arts, we use them every day, and the level of proficiency can be described in terms of social, emotional and practical intelligence.

   So what belt or rank do you have in social art? Appropriate psychological tests will help answer this question by measuring your ability to recognize your own and others' emotions, manage them, empathize, anticipate the consequences of the development of a situation, manage your own behavior and direct the behavior of others, filter distorted information, achieve your goals and manage situations of uncertainty.

   What needs to be done to develop social art?

  Let's look at martial arts as a metaphor for relationship with the world using the example of what seems to be the most humanistic martial art, aikido. So, the master is waiting and he is attacked by several enemies. A couple of light and beautiful movements and the enemy is defeated. If this is a metaphor, then the master is  the human psyche, and the enemy is information flows trying to unbalance it, draw it into their games and cause damage. Then it's a metaphor for how to process information and make use of it.

   So how did the master easily deal with the enemy? Aikido masters will answer - by controlling their center of power, gravity and unbalancing and balancing the opponent's energy center.

   The center is a point located just below the navel, called in the Japanese tradition hara - the energy center of the body, the source of vital energy, the center of power in the Eastern systems of martial art. And at this point, the center of gravity of a person is usually located, so maintaining balance is possible due to control over the position of this center.

  In other words, physical and psychological balance is seen as a necessary condition for victory. Let's leave the physical balance to the martial arts trainers, and consider the psychological balance - resilience. In Eastern traditions, this balance is achieved through meditative practices and the transition to a special state of consciousness, characterized by the utmost concentration of attention and calmness. People try to develop such an optimal state in their lives outside of extreme situations. And here lies the danger of the formation of an emotionally stingy and dry personality structure, mistaken for this state of extreme concentration. We can often observe this in many people engaged in Eastern spiritual practices - emotional ascetics or, as they are more often perceived, "crackers".

   In ordinary life, such a state of extreme concentration or, as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi writes, flow is not always necessary. Such a state is optimal for solving problems, creativity, emotionally difficult situations, but it is hardly necessary outside these limits, for example, in a situation of accepting the result of efforts or rest. The ability to relax and move into an optimal state of flow becomes the key to success and joy in life. The adequacy of the state of a person to the life situation in which he is and can be called by analogy the balance of the center.

This balance in the psyche is ensured by bodily, emotional, cognitive and behavioral psychological mechanisms, which often need to be adjusted.

 So, let's continue our analogy - the master (psyche) is attacked by the enemy (information flows). He meets this information with bodily sensations (felt sens, according to Y. Gendlin), which he must process and translate into a generalized assessment of all the information received - emotions. Awareness of these emotions, such as fear, resentment, anger, etc., activates the process of a more subtle and differentiated analysis of the situation and decision-making. At the same time, if such decisions provide internal integrity - the experience of agreement with oneself, and not internal discord and emotional discord, such a mental structure becomes strong, balanced, balanced and resistant to various kinds of destructive interference. Further, behavioral strategies (dignity, determination, endurance, perseverance and gratitude) can also bring the desired result.

  I am sometimes asked: “why don't you work with some clients on early psychological trauma? (rejection, deprivation, suppression, injustice and betrayal). And so I answer in the metaphor of this article. As soon as we encounter early psychotrauma in psychotherapy, it can be compared to a meeting of a master with an unusually strong and dangerous opponent. If I am not sure that his center of power will withstand - the psyche will constructively process the attack, then you must first check its capabilities and strengthen the bodily-emotional and cognitive-behavioral mechanisms that ensure its effective functioning. And only then can you meet with more serious tests.

   How we strengthen the center of power is a separate issue and you can read about it in detail in the book: “The system of joy: essential self-regulation of the psyche and its psychological correction” and on the website in Our Projects/Psychological Transformation and Physicality Workshop.

Do not forget about your center of power (I will not decipher the metaphor)!

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