Mental Training and the Focus On Feelings | Vlog, Sobo, Rogan, Ritchie
above, is my vlog on this, below are my expanded thoughts
When I was in preschool, one of my first friends was a girl whose name I can’t remember now. What I do remember is that she was afraid of dogs, which was the craziest thing I’d ever heard. Her mother explained to me that it was because a dog had bitten her once, but I still couldn’t wrap my 4-year-old head around it. I’d been bitten by my dog; I’d been run over by my dog when he was zipping around and decided I wasn’t an obstacle to avoid. But neither of those things were the written record of how I feel about dogs, then or now.
There are things that are completely similar, however. I’ve already written down in an abstract way all kinds of negative feelings attached to things that are otherwise pretty neutral. I was trying to kick Team in sparring but he had better timing and every time I attacked he’d block and counter at lightning speed. Result: I believe I can’t kick him because every time I try I get this negative feeling. So, to avoid the negative feeling I just stop kicking. When you back up enough that your nose isn’t right on the painter’s canvas, you can get a better look at this kind of thing and realize how silly it is. But actually overwriting those feelings requires a degree of awareness and willingness to work on it that a lot of us just avoid all together. Unless you have a motive to stop being afraid of dogs, it’s easier to just keep being afraid of dogs and avoid them. I, for example, am terrified of clowns – but they’re super easy to avoid in a day-to-day context, so I’ve never really had to address this issue. I do, however, have to deal with this bad feeling around kicking on a daily basis; so I should be working on that one instead of avoiding it.
In the podcast episode below, Niyi Sobo – the host and former NFL player – explains how setting goals isn’t about the thing itself, it’s about how that thing is going to feel. So you want to be champion of your local circuit: how will that feel? You want to be able to elbow in fights: how will that feel? Then, instead of focusing only on the outcome, you work toward achieving that feeling. It’s brilliant. The inverse, of course, is that failure is also a feeling. When you lose a fight, it’s the feeling that gives you that you’re trying to avoid. So, either never ever lose or figure out how to unlink that feeling from the fact of losing a fight. Exactly what I have to do with my kicking and elbowing.
Niyi Sobo’s podcast “Sports Motivation Podcast”
A great example of this is a recent episode of the Joe Rogan Experience with Guy Ritchie. I didn’t know this, but Guy Ritchie (director of “Snatch”, “Rock ‘N’ Rolla” and the “Sherlock Holmes” series, among many others) has been training Jiujitsu for nearly two decades. So he and Joe are talking about these “geezers” (ah, Londoner slang) in the gym who have built into their identity this “I don’t tap” rule, or whatever color belt they wear, and because it’s part of their identity it makes them more conservative. A black belt can’t be outdone by a blue belt, or the fear of tapping makes the guy too conservative and he stops taking risks. He becomes less than his experience should be allowing. That’s just fear of a feeling. A feeling. I like what Ritchie says just after this, about how there’s no identity of a fighter outside of just fighting itself. It’s annoying that he calls rolling in the gym “fighting,” but whatever… he also uses “tasty” to mean good at something. So we’ll let it slide. But he’s right. If you have all these rules about what a fighter is or how you should be because you’re a fighter, then you’re basically building walls around feelings and limiting yourself. A fighter fights, so just do that. If I normally do pretty well in clinching against Geng-Gat but today I don’t, that shouldn’t be a threat to my identity. Taking it so hard and having such delicate feelings is my identity, so work to change that part.
The Joe Rogan Experience with Guy Ritchie. The good bit I’m referencing starts at about 40:40
I’ve been meaning to make this Vlog (posted at top) for quite some time now, but it wasn’t until just recently that I came upon these other two references to kind of fill it out. I had an initial breakthrough in my mental training through a podcast that actually has nothing at all to do with sports, mental training, or self-improvement. Basically, these guys are reading from the diary of this horrible human being Elliot Roger, aka “The Virgin Killer,” and doing this whiny voice to express his “pathetic mewlings” (as they put it, perfectly) about how when he was a 10-year-old the 8-year-olds at the skate park could do harder tricks than he could and how unfair this is. What a total asshole. Incidentally, the voice they do for Elliot Roger is barely a parody – it’s pretty accurate – but the disgust and repulsion I felt upon hearing his complaints actually did wonders for inciting in me an understanding that this is what self-pity sounds like. So, now whenever I’m feeling sorry for myself I literally give that voice to my internal complaints and get the hell over myself. It helps immensely. Like, what am I actually complaining about? You’re not entitled to anything, including ability, success, or easy roads. Instead of feeling sorry for myself for not being able to do something, find a way to feel good about the process of getting better at it. Like an adult.
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