I've been learning Tai Chi for fourteen years. One of the things I love about Tai Chi is that it is Taoism in motion. Meaning, Tai Chi embodies Taoist (or Daoist) philosophy.
I can't think of any other form of movement -- dance, sport, whatever -- that similarly has deep philosophical principles reflected in it.
Yin and yang, of course, are central concepts in Tai Chi.
Softness (yin) and hardness (yang) alternate in the flowing movements. Of course, what passes for "hard" in Tai Chi is much softer than in other martial arts, so the "soft" is really soft.
Recently my instructor, Warren Allen, came up with a saying that really appealed to me.
Dissolve and try something different.
He illustrated it by showing how a forceful punch can be gently deflected, or absorbed, until it loses its punchiness. In other words, the force of the punch will dissolve when the impetus behind it is exhausted.
Ditto with a kick, or any other form of attack.
But dissolving applies both ways. The Tai Chi practitioner also dissolves by not meeting force with force, but force with emptiness.
In contrast to hard martial art styles such as traditional karate (which I studied for about 12 years before taking up Tai Chi), Tai Chi aims at accepting what is directed at oneself with little attempt to change it.
This is considerably more difficult that forcefully responding in kind to an attack, such as by delivering a punishing block to a punch or kick.
Dissolving, of course, has both psychological and physical sides to it. It is almost impossible to move physically in a truly relaxed fashion if one's mind is tense. So Dissolve and try something different is wonderfully appropriate for many sorts of situations.
The "try something different" part follows a relaxed, soft, embracing acceptance of what could be a difficult situation. Instead of fighting the situation right off the bat, the Tai Chi approach is to first accept it without resistance.
Then, with the energy of the situation reduced, if not dissolved completely, it is easier to see what the best response might be. For example, if someone is angry with you, listening calmly to their ranting and raving is better than yelling back.
Their anger can't be sustained for long. When it subsides, which is facilitated by your not responding in kind, the potential to try something different arises.
Ask some questions. Suggest ways to move forward amicably. Apologize if this is called for. Whatever comes to mind.
I'm not saying that I can do this well.
But Tai Chi has given me a model, an approach, an attitude toward dealing with conflict that is something I can keep in mind when I'm tempted to meet force with force, or feel overwhelmed by a negative situation that seems to demand an energetic response, but which really would turn out better if I took a softer approach.