Hissing Like a Badass, Peaceful Warrior
I have tremendous respect for people who can drop the F bomb solidly, almost professionally, and without apology. I sometimes see it as badass kindness. But here’s the thing about me and the F bomb—it’s not authentic to me. It has nothing to do with being conservative or liberal, uptight or timid. It’s not a part of my story or my culture. (And let’s keep it real: the F bomb has done harm; it’s been used violently too.)
But this piece isn’t really about being able to say F***k. It’s about posturing and how we react when non-negotiable boundaries are crossed. Here’s a parable that got me thinking:
There once was a snake who terrorized a tiny village. One day, a monk visited the village and observed the snake. The monk spoke to the snake about Ahimsa—a yogi concept of non-violence and love. The snake was deeply changed by this message. A few months later, the monk visited the village again and found the snake miserable, starving and beaten. The snake asked the monk what he should do about his situation. The villagers were throwing rocks at him. The snake told the monk, “You taught me the principle of non-violence. You taught me not to bite people!” The monk replied, “Yes, but I did not tell you not to hiss.”
This got me wondering, how do we hiss non-violently? When it is necessary, and how do we hiss and practice Ahimsa, true non-violence in action and word? Some of us may not aspire to non-violence, but may be more comfortable with looking through a lens of kindness. For me, the hiss is about defending myself without harming the other. It is a non-violent warning that can be verbal or with actions taken. For me, Ahimsa is a way of being I aspire to become.
I have needed to hiss in my life and I haven’t always, often out of fear or a desire to please. I have also needed to stand up for myself and I’ve done so in destructive ways—including spouting mean spirited comments that damaged relationships. But hissing for me is needed when fundamental boundaries are crossed.
What are the necessary consequences and how can we convey them with kindness?
Here’s my work in progress—A short list of how I’ve learned to hiss:
- Be badass. I mean know who you are. Know your purpose. Be yourself. Practice kindness to yourself.
- Be mindful of your response. Is it a hiss or a bite? Take a breath. Pause. Ask yourself what is truly needed.
- Practice metta meditation—creating loving kindness for all, even the ones who have harmed or annoyed us.
- Stand your ground by being unwavering yet collaborative. Yes, you can do both while being heard. Be the listener and find compassion. This requires a willingness on our part to set aside our own story and listen to another. It’s possible hissing isn’t needed. Perhaps we just need to gently establish new boundaries. We could call that a gentle hiss.
- Be unmoved. In the chaos, we must remain true to ourselves. Seek gentle presence. Your own movement and growth is inevitable, but we need not be swept away by it. Allow for this movement, but don’t force it. When in the midst of negativity we ca lose ourselves. Be mindful and aware.
- When necessary, fucking hiss. Hiss with words meant to protect and not harm. Actions meant to protect and not harm. But hiss. Protect yourself.
Everyone is different. I’m inviting you to explore the notion of badass hissing. What does badass look like for you? Do you even want to be badass? (I do, but on my own terms.) Do you want to hiss or are you someone who is a biter? (I have been both at times.) Be honest with yourself, and explore possibilities.
As important as it is to know how strong we are, how resilient, capable, and badass we are, it’s also important to ask how we embrace our purity of heart and our tenderness.
Explore the places that feel soft, find their edges, notice their resilience and notice the need for support and protection. But start by asking how you can embrace vulnerability. And consider if vulnerability can actually be our badass self, decked out as a peaceful warrior. And in that peaceful warrior, our hiss can come and offer protection and warning.
We can be vulnerable, soft yet strong—while asserting, “Don’t mess with me. I want the best for you but back the fuck off. I mean it.”
If you'd like to work with Lisa to learn the gentle art of hissing, book a session.
Our Catalyst Coaching Intensive is another great way to explore the art of boundaries, hissing, and being a Badass in general.