We all have shortcomings. Mine tend to come in the form of emotional tantrums. Thanks to Isabel Briggs Myers, I can explain away this personality deficit as being INFP. After all, these deep thoughts and feelings can be a lot to digest.
Training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu normally brings me a sense of exhilaration and growth. Being a newcomer to such an extraordinary sport adds a sense of humility, but seeing the tremendous path ahead is part of the excitement.
This week was an exception. I walked out of the gym Friday night with both my bag and a chip on my shoulder.
The negativity started on Monday as a few inconsequential thoughts. “I’ll never get this right” and “Nobody takes me seriously.” Negative thoughts tend to feed each other, so it is not a surprise that by Friday they had taken over.
As a part of that takeover, these thoughts were no longer just speaking for me. I had myself convinced that my training partners were bored rolling with me and that my instructor felt he was wasting his time as he explained a technique to me for the third time.
And the thoughts continued to feast on each other…
“He’s taking it easy on me, because he thinks I’m weak.”
“My skills aren’t progressing quickly enough. He’s given up on being able to teach me.”
“He’d rather have a different partner, because I’m not at his level.”
This snowball of negativity was suffocating on the ride home, so much so that I convinced myself that I would not be back the next day. I sent my instructor a quick message, and that was that.
Only it wasn’t.
His honest response seeped in and broke up some of those negative thoughts. He reminded me to have fun and learn, that getting better would follow. So, I woke up the following morning and threw myself right back down on the mats.
What I learned that morning stated with Jiu Jitsu and extended to my life.
Everything looked different, and as a result those thoughts changed…
“He’s slowing down, because he really wants me to learn this.”
“Breaking things down for me certainly helps develop his own understanding of the technique.”
“It’s great to be in a gym where people are at so many different levels.”
Class was over. I was sweaty, happy, and I knew that I had grown. I slung my bag over my shoulder to exit the gym. As I did, I interrupted a conversation.
One of the guys smiled and turned to me, “Are your ears ringing?”
My spirit trembled a bit in anticipation. Had they really been talking about me?
What followed was a genuine dialogue with my instructor and training partners about my performance — both my areas of growth and weaknesses. At the end of the conversation, I knew exactly what the guys thought of rolling with me and of my ability. It was no longer scary or unknown.
If I wanted to know how I was doing, or what the guys were thinking, why didn’t I just ask? Somehow, assuming the worst was easier than finding out the truth. I had let my ego get in the way.
My feelings had been unnecessarily hurt by my own thinking.
As I continue to train, this story and the lessons I learned from it will stay in the forefront.
When your self-talk is harmful, don’t let it speak for others. Live your life; don’t live in your head. Enjoy the journey, especially when the destination is not yet in sight.