Fight or Flight?

I don’t have a dad but my mom says you’re the smartest man and she would marry you for sure. [name removed] is picking on me at school but she said I should ignore him but
I can’t cause he waits for me. Should I learn MMA?

signed,
Potential Fighter

PS My mom is single

Dear Potential,

Thank you for coming up with your own sign-off name. I hope that you don’t mind that I changed it. Mostly those are my inventions and I pick them according to that day’s theme. And also, thank you for passing on the very nice compliment your mom gave me. It’s important to remember she’s speaking figuratively not literally. Literally means Actually, and I’m not actually the smartest man. Figuratively means Symbolically. So there is no such thing as a “smartest person” but your mom’s using colourful language to say that she finds that a lot of the things I write are valuable to her. I’m happy to be of comfort and use to her and I’ll do my best to help you too.

First off, I’m sorry that you have to deal with this boy. If it’s very serious and the violence is dangerous then you have to discuss this with your school principal. If it’s scary but not super-dangerous then it is unfortunately an example of how this world can sometimes be. But handled well, these can be valuable lessons in how to lead an enjoyable, successful life.

295 Relax and Succeed - If you want to have friendsFirst off I want to ensure you understand that you have my empathy. I too had a childhood bully who for a very random reason chose me as his victim for a few years. It doesn’t feel good to be ganged up on, especially by people who’ve said they were your friends. And I can understand how that frustration can end up being channelled into anger that wants to realize itself physically. That’s an entirely natural reaction that any animal would have and it’s a healthy thing to stay in touch with the fact that we never stop being animals just because we’re also people.

So it makes sense that you feel cornered, and I’m not surprised to see you having a very naturally defensive reaction. And learning a martial art may in fact be a very disciplined and physically strenuous way to manifest the energy you’re feeling. The very best instructors will prepare you for a fight all while teaching you how to never have one. The very best fighter is always the one who disarms his opponent before the battle even begins. So in short: if you feel a strong urge to use this bully as a motivator to develop a healthy disciplined physical routine then that’s perfectly fine as long as you’re not going to use what you learn to just become like the bully. Because if you just want to beat someone up then learning any sort of fighting style will be dishonourable to the art and it will undermine your character.

Anger has a lot of energy behind it so you want to avoid it when you can. Its speed and intensity can cause you to make decisions that aren’t in your best interests so, whenever possible, make your decisions when you’re calm. This will be hard sometimes because there are periods in your life where you will naturally be getting heavy doses of certain body chemistry just as a natural part of ageing and maturing. This goes for your Mom too, so if her moods seem out of character sometimes then give her some space just like you want some when the pains of a growth spurt make you highly agitated.

295 Relax and Succeed - When we seek to discoverNow to deal with any situation it’s important to understand as much of what is going on as possible. Statistically and logically your bully almost certainly gets bullied himself, most likely at home. Just because a kid has a dad doesn’t mean that he’s happy about that. So as a general rule, you want to avoid violence because as you can appreciate, then the boy is getting beat up at home, and then he would come to school all defensive and get beat up again. That clearly won’t make his life one that he can enjoy and if he’s always scared then he will stay violent his whole life. So if you can avoid fighting you’ve helped to make his life better and you’ve made the world a better place. If everyone just did that as much as possible the world would look amazingly different. So I’m glad to have you join me in trying to change things for the better.

Now even if you avoid violence you still have your bully issue. But you seem like a bright fellow so you likely have an advantage. And it might actually even be fun to see how you might outsmart your bully. Right now your fear has you paralysed. You’re mostly imagining what will happen if he finds you and catches you. Those are unproductive thoughts. You need to shift to figuring out how he’s finding you, and then use a new, more focuses strategy about how to move around your school or neighbourhood. Most people’s strengths come from them facing some adversity so this bully is like your first Sensei. He is your first Martial Arts Instructor and he is teaching you to think clearly and cleverly.

The most important part of your strategy will be your offence. Most people would attack him head on, where he can see it coming. So they would get their own gang, or they would hide or escalate the fight to one with weapons. But those aren’t wise ideas because they can easily escalate and you can’t predict where that will end. You’re better to attack from so far behind him that he doesn’t even recognize it as an attack. You have to support him.

295 Relax and Succeed - Respect is not a commodityI know, it might seem weird at first. But it’ll help. If he’s got a scary home life and his insecurity there plays out as bullying at school, then your best bet is to make him your friend. Friends don’t wait for friends and beat them up. And he’s already teaching you how to make friends with him. He doesn’t feel safe. His life lacks security. He probably doesn’t think too much of himself, so rescuing him from other people’s taunts or teasing would he helpful. Not saying anything nasty yourself will help. If he’s got a weakness in a subject or something that you’re good at, consider helping him. People are fundamentally decent and almost no one will attack people who are consistently nice to them. It’s simply not our nature because we’ve historically needed to work in groups.

So get rid of your enemy by making him your friend. It might take some time and it might not even work. But it’s the route that has the best chance to lead to the best outcome for the most people and that’s always a good place to start. I wish you good fortune with it. Drop me a line and let me know how it all works out.

peace. s

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