running your own race
observing kid's class
Every so often, I come to the academy when kid’s class is still in session and I’m able to take that time to sit back and watch the next generation of jiu jitsu.
The kids are really hilarious, each with their own personalities.
And unlike us adults they are fully transparent about their emotions, feelings, and thoughts.
During the end of class, our instructor asked for them to run a set of sprints across the length of the mats. A chorus of “I came in first!” and “I finished before her” spontaneously erupted amongst the small folk.
My instructor took one look at them, and then he said:
I don’t want you looking at anyone else when you run.
I am so good at comparison. (I’m so good at it that I’m even comparing myself when talking about comparison. Heh.) How I was raised, there was nothing more important than being number one. And if I wasn’t number one, well then, I might as well be in last.
I wish that I had been taught a different lesson than what I had growing up. I suppose it’s never too late to learn and practice something new.
I’ve spoken at length about how comparison is the thief of joy in jiu jitsu. But just because you’ve learned something new doesn’t mean you can apply it right away.
In the past few weeks, I’ve been really digging into what I could do to “focus on myself” — and I’ve come up with 3 approaches that I encourage you to try on for size:
I try to acknowledge when I’m not feeling my best before I start practice. Before practice, I ask myself, on a scale of 1-100, how do I feel? By being aware that I’m feeling anxious (because I’m worried about the future) or depressed (because I’m criticizing the past), I know that I will probably be more prone to the comparison trap.
I label whenever I’m comparing. Because sometimes it can be really subtle and not even felt in words. Labelling helps push me out of that emotional state by interrupting my thoughts and helps me try to observe what is really happening.
I get really curious about what I’ve identified specifically that someone is “better” at. Am I using criteria that I can explain clearly to someone else, or is it more of an amorphous, conditioned response from my achiever brain?
Remember, run your own race.
If you’ve enjoyed this piece, then consider listening to the latest episode of The Mental Arts. We have a great judo black belt/bjj purple belt talking about his views towards life and training. And, there’s a giveaway on there for some free swag.
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