How Does The Force Work?

How Does The Force Work?

A few weeks ago, as I sat in church and listened to a talk about faith, my mind began to wander to the Force. How does the Force really work? Is it really as easy to use as the Jedi and the Sith make it look? Is being born with the ability to use the Force enough? Are faith and self-confidence really that important when using the Force? And what part does urgency play? Faith is a belief in something that is unseen, and self-confidence is a trust in one’s own abilities and judgements, and both seem to fit well with what Yoda tried to teach Luke Skywalker on Dagobah. In scripture we learn that we have the power to move mountains if we believe we can do it. So could I really move a mountain? Maybe. But there is my problem. I’m not sure I could do it. It’s just a maybe. So maybe using the Force isn’t that easy after all.

On Dagobah, Yoda was able to lift Luke’s X-wing out of the swamp because he had confidence in the Force and in himself. Yoda knew he could do it. Yoda told Luke he failed because he didn’t believe he could do it (Luke: “I don’t believe it.” Yoda: “That is why you fail.”), and also Luke didn’t have any urgency. Neither his life or his friends’ lives were at risk. When Luke was trapped in the Wampa’s cave on Hoth he believed that he was be able to call his lightsaber and he also had an urgency to do so, and it worked. And these faith tests aren’t isolated to Luke.

In The Force Awakens, following her Force vision in Maz Kanata’s castle and Kylo Ren using the Force to capture her, Rey realized that the Force was not just a myth. And she also realized that she may have some Force ability when she not only stopped Kylo from reading her thoughts, but then retaliated and read his. Later, while in her restraints, Rey attempted to mind trick her Stormtrooper guard. At first she failed, but she had such a strong belief in herself (likely from surviving alone on Jakku for most of her life) that she tried again and succeeded. Rey gradually gained confidence in herself and her Force abilities, leading to the point that she summoned Luke’s lightsaber in order to save her life and possibly Finn’s. She had to simultaneously have a belief in herself and in the Force, as well as an urgency to escape.

For anyone who has ever played sports, you know how important confidence is. Hesitating on a jump shot in basketball or a swing in baseball rarely leads to success. Having confidence in your abilities leads to your mind being clear and muscle memory taking over. While muscle memory may not always be significant when using the Force, a clear mind is of utmost importance. A basketball player doesn’t know that he or she is going to make the basket, but they have faith from past experience that the ball can go in and enough self-confidence that they can do it. And much like using the Force, failures eventually lead to success.

When Luke entered Jabba’s palace in Return of the Jedi he was clearly more confident in himself and his abilities. He had learned from his past failures. And there was a humility to Luke that he didn’t show in The Empire Strikes Back. When he Force choked Jabba’s Gamorrean Guards he knew the Force would respond to his command. He was able to perform a perfect Jedi mind trick on Bib Fortuna in order to gain an audience with Jabba. When he talked to Jabba and demanded the release of his friends he was confident in his abilities even though he was completely outnumbered. And he had an urgency to his mission: he knew that he was the last resort for his friends. He had no room for failure now. He had prepared for that moment, and he had a command of the Force that he didn’t have on Dagobah or when he faced Vader in Cloud City. He had trained himself to be calm when most would panic and the Force responded accordingly.

Perhaps the best example of a Star Wars character having faith in the Force and a humble confidence is Chirrut Imwe in Rogue One. He had no doubt that the Force would guide and protect him. On Jedha, Chirrut confidently put himself in harm’s way so that he could save Jyn, Cassian, and K-2SO. If he hadn’t confronted the Stormtroopers who were holding the rebels captive, the Rebellion may have died right there. Chirrut recognized the urgency in the situation and listened to the Force’s guidance as he dodged blaster bolts and defeated the troopers. On Scarif, Chirrut entered the battlefield seemingly defenseless so that he could help transmit the Death Star’s plans to the Rebel fleet. He saw that he was the only one with enough faith in the Force to complete the mission. There is possibly no more urgent situation in all of Star Wars. Chirrut was one with the Force, and the Force was with him. He had a unique faith in the Force that it would protect him if he trusted it, and protect him it did until his mission was completed.

Like Obi-Wan told Han Solo in A New Hope, “In my experience there’s no such thing as luck.” There is the Force, but even that isn’t enough. Self confidence gained through preparation, faith in the Force obtained from failures and successes, and urgency to ignore self-doubt are key ingredients for successful use of the Force. So is this how the Force works? What do you think? Contact me on Twitter @ryderwaldrondds, email me at, or leave a comment below. If you’d like to hear more on this topic check out episode 42 of the Idiot’s Array podcast where Alan Zaugg, Mark Sutter, and I discuss it further. Thanks so much for reading my blog. And remember:

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1 Comment

  1. Melinda
    March 16, 2017 at 19:33 Reply

    Okay, Ryder, I am going to try to recreate what I wrote this morning… only to have it lost when WP went bezonkers. Oh, the pearls my prose contained… 😉

    I can’t say whether you — or anyone else, for that matter — might be able to move a mountain. It is just a metaphor, you know. 😉

    As I read your blog, I couldn’t help but think about those instances when people can “will” their bodies to heal (those times when a doctor might say that there is little chance of recovery, but poof! a person does recover). It is an amazing thing — the power of the mind.

    Or, like you point out, believing in oneself and one’s ability to make that incredible shot, or climb that mountain, or finish that race. The challenge is presented to you, and it oftentimes is easier to talk oneself OUT of accomplishing something. Yet many go to (sometimes) great lengths to talk themselves INTO completing the task at hand. The power of self-confidence. The power of belief in oneself. The power of the mind. The Force? 😉

    I love that scene on Dagobah — when Luke tries and tries to lift the x-wing out of the swamp, but just can’t do it, and then Yoda comes along, has a serene look on his face, and lifts that huge ship out of the murky water. “My ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is,” Yoda says. This is Luke’s first real lesson in the workings of the mystical power. It is a lesson he needed to learn.

    By the way, Ryder, did Luke really Force choke the Gamorrean guards? I don’t remember that scene that way. I think I’ll have to pop my favorite Star Wars movie into the DVD player. 🙂

    Before I sign off, I just want to add that Chirrut is my favorite character from RO, and one of the things I like about him best is that, while he is not a Jedi, he believes in the Force, and what it can do for an individual not so gifted (as a Jedi). 🙂

    Thoroughly enjoyed your blog, Ryder! Thanks for sharing.

    MTFBWY 🙂

    p.s. In case you’re wondering, my original comment that I had hoped to leave this morning was much better. Oh well. 😉

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