When it comes to watching a film or a series, I inadvertently analyse the psychology of the characters and the elements that make up the plot. I'm fascinated by the social dynamics that reveal the secrets of power and the ways in which characters come to power and use it.
One such show is Peaky Blinders. The chronological thread of the film is predominantly built from situations of conflict and power struggles in which the protagonist, Thomas Shelby wins them one by one, gaining the respect of enemies and the trust of those closest to him.
Thus, the secrets of power discovered and implemented by Tommy Shelby transformed him from a Birmingham neighborhood gangster into one of the most powerful and influential men 20th century England has ever known.
So in this article, we'll unravel the secrets of power by taking a closer look at the psychology behind the characters and the plot of Peaky Blinders.
1. The non-reactivity principle
To be non-reactive is to be a cause and not an effect. You determine what you want to happen and not have your life go after the things that happen to you. You don't react out of fear, anger, anxiety or anything else. Instead you are an active agent building your life according to your own will.
The first of Tommy Shelby's secrets to power is that he makes things happen. He doesn't react to people and events but he induces the reactions he wants in others and creates the course of events as he plans.
Whenever Tommy was at a disadvantage, he was visibly unaffected. Being steadfast has value not when things go right, but when things go wrong. In his confrontation with Billy Kimber, Tommy was clearly at a disadvantage and needed Billy's power and possessions:
"-I admire you, Mr. Kimber. You started from scratch and built a legitimate business. It would be an honor to work with you.
-The people don't work with me! People work for me! (as he tosses a coin on the floor) Pick it up, haimanao!" And Thomas doesn't. He waits a moment, then picks it up.
That moment of waiting is the key that gives him power. If he had picked up the coin instantly, it would have been a sign of obedience born of fear instinct. Instead, he waited those few seconds to consummate and dispel the idea of obedience, and only then raised the coin as a sign of acceptance of potential collaboration.
This is one of the best moments that truly illustrates what it means to be non-reactive, holding the secrets of power.
Exercise: wait 2-3 seconds before responding in a conflict situation. This will reduce the likelihood of having an emotional reaction, responding on impulse and getting into a potential conflict.
And now you're probably going to say that being non-reactive would mean not getting into conflict, or Peaky Blinders is full of fights and fights and you're right, but you have to consider why those fights occur.
In season 1, episode 2 one of the Lee brothers said to Tommy that "his mother was an easy woman" and Tommy reacted very aggressively by starting a fight. Throughout the show you'll notice that he doesn't react to insults, money or other superficial things.
On the contrary, he remains calm in the face of enemies and only fights when it comes to defending his values. In concrete terms, for him, family and his people are his main value. He reacts only when there is a value of his own at stake, not to all the nonsense.
So be it for you. It's natural to react when something you hold dear, something you value is taken away or insulted. This is a sign that the thing or person is important to you.
Otherwise, to things that have no emotional value to you, adopt a stoic attitude of indifference. And the chance of being emotionally affected or hurt will be much less.
Emotions are a product of our thinking, so controlling our thoughts and impulses will automatically lead to emotional stability. Thus you will come to master your emotions in liminal situations and use them to dominate others.
It's pretty clear that one of the secrets to Tommy's strength is not displaying anger or other emotions in front of the wrong people. Of course he felt emotions but he didn't express them to people who couldn't validate those emotions, and that's a sign of emotional intelligence.
For example, in front of enemies he was not nervous because it denotes a sign of weakness. In front of them he was calm and detached. But when he was alone he could vent his emotions or express them to people who could accept them, like Grace or Aunt Polly. This brings us to the next point.
I hope I've helped you better understand Peaky Blinders and the ways in which the secrets of power are revealed in the show. Beyond the "secrets of power" theme