Inner monologue – the constant battle


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We’ve all felt it. Let’s face it no one is perfect. Who can say that every time they step onto the mat, in the gym or at the competition, touch hands with their partner (or opponent) that they have consistently performed to the highest of their abilities, reigning victorious each and every time? I know you want to be able to say that it’s true but alas, we are human and to err is human as they say.

So why is it that this fact of imperfectness that we all share is so hard to accept? This is something that plagues my mind in many facets of my life, but none more so than in Jiu Jitsu. I believe it is the constant self evaluation and the analytical process of the game and performance that tends to end with the individual focusing, with too much emphasis, on the result of winning and losing in our training and competition performance rather than the growth of our own game.

This then gives birth to thought, always a small thought to begin with, that begins to snowball and if we do not become conscious of it and try to let go of this thought it will manifest in the back of our minds and potentially take over and impede the initial intention of the training session. Let’s take a look at an example together. One day you are preparing to go to class. You have been thinking all day about a new variation to a technique you have been working on and have the intent to develop this in the class tonight. This engages you in the upcoming class and really get’s your juices flowing. As you drive to the gym you think about the different entry possibilities you are going to attempt. You can’t wait to try your new move out and see if it works, if not how can it be improved.

Then, you think about trying it on the black belt; Hmm maybe it wont work on the black belt just yet… Or Tony, Tony is really sharp in his movement and he’s looking pretty jacked these days. It will work pretty well on everyone but not these two guys yet; but, otherwise you will be good as gold. You get to the gym and feel great warming up, having a few laughs with everyone there. Then you see the black belt and you feel something. It’s not nerves and it’s not fear. You can’t quite put your finger on the name of that feeling. Then you see Tony. You shake hands as you have done everyday because you and Tony are good friends.

But the feeling you had when seeing the black belt is back, but now you feel it when you see Tony. You know what that feeling is now. It’s not nervousness, it’s not fear… it’s defeat. That minor thought you had while driving to the gym earlier. The thought that if you tried the move on the black belt or Tony it could only result in failure. That thought, no matter how false it may be, in your head it is 100% true. You actualised it in your brain and gave it life, in your consciousness, by uttering those words you made it true for yourself that if you try, you will fail. You refuse to believe it but you have subconsciously set yourself up to fail tonight. Flash forward in the night, you are now sparring. You progress through the training session and the rolls. Your new move is working great, wow your going to earn a red belt one day for creating this new variation, you are feeling very proud. Then is comes time to face Tony. You may have hit that move on partners with much better Jiu Jitsu than Tony during the night but now, because of the presupposition you had in the car earlier, that move isn’t going to work. No matter how fast, how explosive or how slick you are when you attempt the new technique that belief you have given yourself has killed your confidence, your focus and your desired belief.

Does this mean you should abandon hope in training tonight? Chalk it up to one of those days when you couldn’t become the hammer and served your time as the nail. The answer is no, definitely not. The acceptance of this thought leads it to becoming solidified as a belief. Going home and hoping that things will change tomorrow is as far from addressing the situation, as it is being a solution.

Realisation of the fact that you created this thought; therefore, you are in control of it’s stance as a belief in your mind is the first step to eradicating this belief and other negative beliefs you may hold true within yourself that distract you from progress. If you find it difficult to isolate this belief during training, because of the commotion and distractions going on, by all means address the problem when you arrive home or even on your journey home. But address it as soon as possible to ensure the belief does not become rooted in your psyche any further. This initial step is to recognise what train of thought and thought process lead to that inception of the idea into your head. Most of the time you will find it didn’t come from evidence but rather from self-talk and misguided rationalisation derived from the negative self-talk. “Tony is looking Jacked these days.” So what?! He may have a sharp new haircut too this doesn’t mean he has become Super Sayan and impervious to your actions as a BJJ practitioner. “This wont work on a black belt.” Ridiculous! Many things will work on a black belt, remember they have been on the mat longer than you meaning they have failed more than you no one is invulnerable. This self-talk, the one that I have given you now in this example, is a form of rationalisation of your negative inner monologue. It is one method that may help you realise what you believe to be negative about yourself is usually what is invented by yourself; the antagonist within your own head. We all have that antagonist, that voice that says; what if? I may fail here. We all have it and we all hear these words. It’s the decision to rationalise the absurdity of it as fact and then to let it go that will enable us to find success in our everyday growth. And what is success? Is it going through the night at the gym avoiding being tapped out? Or is it being tapped out 100 times learning valuable lessons about your strengths and weaknesses as BJJ practitioners? Success is really a goal that is achieved or is not achieved after action. It’s you who chooses what that goal is. It’s you who decides the name of that goal every time you compete, train in the gym, go to work, go to school, converse with others and when you wake up each day. Spend some time rationalising your own negative self-talk and your idea of what defines success to you and I promise your growth will improve each day at an exciting rate.

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Article by: Cristiano Del Giacco

About The Author

Cristiano Del Giacco
Co-Founder & Lead Editor

Co-Founder of BJJ enthusiast based on the Gold Coast and collector of Kimonos, travelling the world training with some of the worlds best.

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